What is this called? Constant need to interact with anyone or anything

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by agee, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. agee

    agee Guest

    Okay - I want to describe this to my son's doctors and I'm wondering if there's a clinical term for a child whose best #1 playthings are his mom, his brother, his dad, or the dogs - in that order. He cannot and will not play by himself. He won't "play" with us either, mind you - it's very difficult playing a game with him for example - but he constantly wants to interact and try to get us to be angry with him. CONSTANTLY.
    My nickname for him is THE INSTIGATOR.
    Is there another term for this?
  2. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    This is very typical in adopted children ~ their initial sense of abandonment & such play into this.

    Saying that, you don't need to play a game. With my tweedles, husband & I set up a 2nd & 3rd television in the living room & watched them play video games while we hung out (they each had headsets). It really worked & every now & then kt &/or wm would invite us to play.

    Is there any attachment issues? Attachment disordered children will do everything & anything to push away the primary caregiver so they will not be hurt or abandoned again. They aren't even aware of what they are doing - almost hard wired. At the same time they need to be the center of attention doing whatever it takes; from hours long tantrums/meltdowns to nonstop talking & inappropriate laughter. There is a need to control all around you & what better way then to keep you going with nonstop chatter?

    The big thing is to be in the same room interacting on your terms. Get a big box filled with rice & beans & let him go at it. Very sensory & calming for a lot of kids.

    Just some ideas for you.
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Agee - my son was very much like this. The best phrase I could come up with- is that he found negative reinforcement/interactions terribly rewarding. More so than any positives we could offer. The only thing that ever really affected his need for negatives was something I learned here on the board - to interact with him in a totally neutral and calm matter, no matter what. No yelling (and I used to be a major screamer), no threats, nothing negative - just neutral all the way. He did get some positive interactions but I really had to wait for him to instigate them - a hug, or a cuddle, rarely a tangible physical reward because those inevitably provoked negative behaivors (go figure).

    It was very hard to master, being neutral with- him, but really it's probably the second most useful strategy I ever had in dealing with- him (#1 being consistency). To this day, I'm still having to use a neutral tone and body language with- my kid.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    What is this called?

    It is called, TerryJ2's son.
    No kidding. :)

    I agree with-the others, that it could play into adoption issues, as well as stimulation. A neutral tone is a necessity.
    I have hired babysitters to watch my difficult child while I am at home, just so I can get some peace. Even they have had a hard time keeping him away from me. I've learned to hire strong willed, firm, but nice, people. :)
    Thank heaven, now that he is 13, he is content to be in the same room with-me while he reads, watches TV, or does his homework. I can balance my checkbook, do the dishes, or even paint a small watercolor with him nearby. He likes the proximity and emotional consistency.
  5. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    FWIW, I don't know what the clinical term for your son's behavior is, but I have found over the years that it is most helpful just to describe in neutral terms for doctors what you're observing and let the doctors determine the clinical terms for the behaviors. That way you don't end up with a misdiagnosis. JMHO.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Great idea, Smallworld!
  7. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Duckie does this when she's stressed or anxious. We call it "pinging"... like a submarine sending out sonar (constantly).
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It's common with spectrum kids too. They want to socialize but have no idea how to do it appropriately so they aren't appropriate, but they try. Also, they like to touch everything due to sensory issues. I would let the doctor see him in action. Unless he shuts down with unfamiliar people. Does he ever play with toys? Does he play appropriately with toys or does he dismantle them or just shake them or line them up?

    I strongly agree with smallmom not to try to charactorize it and bias the doctor. Let him determine what the behavior means. You could mischaracterize your child's intentions and send the diagnosis in the wrong direction, which can be very bad for the child. I try never to influence the diagnostician.

    I hope you can get things going in the right direction soon. I know first hand how frustrating it gets when you can't get a diagnosis and adopted kids that don't come with detailed histories are puzzling for clinicians and harder to diagnose due to a lack of genetic info.
  9. agee

    agee Guest

    That made me laugh out loud.

    Yes, this. I don't know if I said it in this thread or the other one I started, but I KNOW if I can be calm we'll have a better day. I KNOW it. I've just been having trouble mastering it.
    I don't rule out attachment issues, but he is also super affectionate (to the point where it is also annoying). He gets enjoyment out of making us mad, but he isn't doing it so we don't like him - he's doing it because he gets off on a reaction. I asked him at dinner how he felt when his brother came home and saw that he'd wrecked some legos he'd built, and he said happy. Then he started giggling. But if you asked him if he wants his family not to like him he'd say no. He would feel sad. He took some money from my purse earlier and instead of getting really angry I told him that my feelings were hurt that he'd steal from me and this made him sad. So I don't know that he is doing this to push us away....it's more that it gives him a thrill. And that's more important than making us happy.
    I guess that's ODD in a nutshell, isn't it.
    And as for toys/play:
    He does sometimes play with toys normally, but typically he's taking things apart. He likes to pretend everything is a gun and run around shooting people.
    He is much more likely to play with non-toys in a toy-like way, than actual toys, if that makes sense. But his favorite toy is mommy. Push her buttons and watch her go!

    Anyway, thanks for all of this. And I won't try to bias the doctor. Hopefully he will know his stuff. I do worry that how difficult child acts at home will not show up at the dr. visit. difficult child can get pretty quiet and freaked out by people he doesn't know. But the evaluation. is also 5 hours, so hopefully the true difficult child will rear his head sometime during the day.
  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My difficult child is very much like this. He is always wanting someone to do something with him (especially husband). Now that he is older (12) at times he is content just to be in the same room with us.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 was like tis especially. I could be doing anything at all, sometimes just reading a book but alternatively I could be doing something like the washing up, chopping onions, hanging out washing - anything where being interrupted was inconvenient or even hazardous, and she would come up to give me a cuddle. If I turned her away (for example, for fear of cutting my fingers while wielding a chopping blade) she would be hurt and offended. She was measured as a genius-level IQ but could not understand "appropriate" until she was almost an adult. Only now as an adult, SHE makes a lot of the rules with her friends. She tends to attract lesbian friends (briefly) because she sends out such mixed signals of being willing for physical contact. Thankfully she is not promiscuous, although we knew she would have "round heels" as her father describes it. We got her on the Pill as soon as she got her first boyfriend. Her current BFF is also very tactile and cuddlesome, perhaps that is why they get on. Neither is self-conscious about public physical contact between them and thankfully their menfolk understand. We've been visiting easy child 2/difficult child 2's place and seen their friends arrive (BFF & fiance) and BFF, not feeling well, crawled into easy child 2/difficult child 2's lap and stayed there, being held. I wouldn't do it, it's not what I would call appropriate, but it was in easy child 2/difficult child 2's territory so her rules stand. And it made BFF (a lovely girl) feel better.

    As for him seeming to always try to make you angry - he may have learned, to his detriment, that ANY emotional response is one of love. That would not be the autism (if it is autism) per se, but the overlay of the origins (adoption from overseas) with possible earlier experiences bringing other issues into the mix.

    Such responses would need to be unlearned, then re-learned properly. He needs to learn that love doesn't have to be loudly, noisily, negatively expressed. Whatever the underlying problem (if any - I'm encouraging an open mind here), there is likely to be all sorts of problems from such a disadvantaged early start.

    My sister adopted two children, mixed in with three of her own. Both her adopted children had what can only be called "a rough start". They were either neglected, abused or both. We don't know the details, only what we were able to work out from the condition of the kids when they each arrived, and their behaviour. The boy had been left to sit and had not been stimulated. His biomum had been reported to be "retarded" and later on the boy himself turned out to be profoundly dyslexic. He also had the poor muscle tone often associated with related neurological problems. He ended up a junkie, criminal and worse although now is trying to go straight. He's in his 40s and life is not easy. He was very adept at pushing buttons, from a very young age. He's also not in any way "retarded" and I suspect neither was his mother. But if she was similarly dyslexic, she would have scored very low on a written IQ test.

    The girl - no such problems with the law. But she would refuse all physical contact to begin with, as if it hurt. She could not be held to take a bottle, she wouldn't take a bottle if it was warm. The only way she would take a bottle was cold, in the cot. We have a photo of her at 10 months, she had lost the malnutrition pot belly but sat away from my sister, sitting beautifully upright like a dancer, the matinee jacket falling in fashionable folds like a supermodel. Babies aren't supposed to be that shape. But it was the legacy of early and frequent malnutrition.
    Years later this girl, now an experienced mother and qualified childcare worker, had a little girl who rapidly showed feeding problems. she nearly lost her to welfare authorities in the hospital because the baby appeared to have malnutrition. Only my sister's involvement and report of her adoptive daughter's appearance (and baby photos) on arrival, saved the day. They did more tests (ones which are available these days; not available thirty years earlier) and found that the baby had a digestive problem. A change to a different baby formula (and cessation of breastfeeding) eased the problem. But it was a near thing.
    My adoptive niece was a handful when growing up. She also pushed buttons. she HAD to have ALL the attention. Her younger sister took a lot of being pushed aside. Her older sister would steal her clothes, especially any where other people said the younger girl looked good in them. Sometimes she would wreck the clothes. Or she would hear her younger sister praised for her playing of a new piano piece, so the older girl stole the piano music and kept it hidden until she too had mastered the same piano piece.
    I really wish my sister had got the girl into counselling, but back then we were told that it was all nurture, and what babies endured in their first year meant nothing, babies didn't remember and therefore it didn't have an impact.

    The boy could have turned out OK but there were other forces there which made life at home just too difficult for him despite my sister's best efforts. These days it could be a different story.

    My niece has turned out well. She is now close to her sister and her mother (has always been close to her mother) and perhaps because she is so bright, she has gone a long way to resolving her own demons and is a marvellous mother to her own kids. It's now looking like her youngest, another girl, has Asperger's. She's been alert to the problems and sought help early. I'm very impressed with her.

    Each of us is a complex mix of what is inside our head from the start (the wiring) and our environment. Given your difficult child's difficult beginning, you could have a complex mix of problems which could require a complex solution.

    Some of difficult child 3's (less complex, because he wasn't adopted at all, let alone under difficult circumstances) management is aimed at using the environment to work on what is both innate and environmental. He is getting ongoing therapy (CBT - I highly recommend it) to work on problems we have. These problems could be the problems of a typical teen, the therapy would be the same. The thing is - we do what works.

    Trying to find a diagnosis is useful but it can be foggy if circumstances are complex. But it doesn't mean you have to wait for a label before getting help, or trying to do something yourself while you wait for expert involvement.

    Also, when you eventually get a label, keep an open mind and be prepared to question it if your instinct tells you it's not quite right or there's something that doesn't fit.

    You are the expert in your own child's case.

  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I still have few clues what to call that constant pestering, the total joy of getting a ngeative reaction. I often think that my difficult child was wired so that anger gave him thrills. It also led to a lifetime of constant depression, largely because he only ever purposely sought out negative responses.

    As a baby he had mostly positive responses from us. But even at 6 WEEKS he could not handle having someone with him all the time. He needed HOURS of time awake where he was all alone. Otherwise he cried and screamed constantly. We thought it was colic (whatever that is, our docs were not much help nor is medical science even close to figuring it out). My mom thought it was an immature digestive tract, because I had one. But he did not projectile vomit (I did. Spectacularly well, I am told. I once hit a cousin who was almost 20 FEET away from me, LOL! We have a picture.)

    Sort of by accident I started leaving him alone on a blanket with his playgym thingy. He would chew on the tushie of the Donald Duck figure and laugh and coo. If he even caught a glimpse of me in the doorway he would howl with rage.

    As he became mobile he would start doing things over and over to make us yell. It was HARD to learn not to. After a few years I figured out that the ONLY way any praise ever wound into his consciousness was to hear us praise him to other people. He just didn't believe us. Not unless he thought we said it to someone else. I got to where I would pick up the phone and act like I was calling someone if I wanted him to know I liked something.

    This is just an example of how complicated their brains are. It was not easy to figure it all out. It took YEARS.

    MANY tdocs, psychiatrists, etc.... thought he was adopted because his behavior was so much more similar to that of an adopted child. the go-away-I-hate-you-don't-you-love-me was too much for my husband. He pretty much stopped having any reaction other than unhappiness to my son by the time Wiz was 6 or 7. With the way his own mind works he just was not able to make any kind of emotional connection to our son. He IS the biological father, there is NO doubt about it. For many years husband placed ALL the reason for Wiz' issues at the feet of my family, largely because there are big similarities between my gfgbro and Wiz (and they cannot stand each other). In the last year or so he has admitted that he has some similar issues to Wiz, that it isn't all "my" fault.

    With not knowing what his first year or so was like, there could be a LOT behind your son's issues. It will probably be a mix of many things. From what I have learned from a friend who adopted twins from overseas, alcohol abuse during pregnancy could be a major factor.

    Regardless of the causes, I strongly urge you to seek out a private Occupational Therapist (OT) to do a sensory integration evaluation. With the right kinds of sensory input my kids each made HUGE progress in handling their issues. I think thank you would have an Aspie diagnosis if we had not gotten a sensory evaluation and diet in place at an early age. Get a copy of The Out of Sync Child Has Fun and let difficult child show you which activities rev him up and which calm him down and which ones creep him out totally. The evaluation was eye opening to me because it showed where we already were doing many things the Occupational Therapist (OT) suggested, just because thank you really liked doing them and would calm down or work out his energy doing them.

    Let your instincts guide you through the diagnosis and treatment. You are the mom for a reason. Your instincts are there for just that reason - to help you raise your son.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    But his favorite toy is mommy. Push her buttons and watch her go!

    Now that made me laugh out loud!
  14. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I think there are two separate behaviors you are describing. both of which my youngest son exhibits!

    One is the inability to play alone. My youngest always wants to play with someone, anyone. It is the constant need for external stimuluation, inability to live in one's own mind, whatever.

    then there is the second aspect which is if life is boring, then make it more interesting by adding some conflict to it.

    It is very tiring, and I worry a lot about my youngest's constant need for external stimulation. Baring everything else, tv is what he does.

    I try to get him involved in hobbies that give him something to do.

    good luck. Superaffectionate is perhaps a symptom of attachment disorder?
  15. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    Another thought. I doubt he is doing things to annoy you. More likely it is impulsive. He likely knows right from wrong, just can't do it. Punishing him is not likely to improve his executive function.
  16. agee

    agee Guest

    We've had a sensory integration evaluation. done - when he was 3. They found him moderately sensory seeking. We could not afford the Occupational Therapist (OT), however. It was something like $180/week and we didn't qualify for sliding scale nor would our insurance cover it. We did a lot of stuff at home and he's had massive improvement from when we got him. I have all the sensory books, too, but it's probably time to look at them again. I like the idea of beans and rice bin. At the grocery store he runs to the bulk bins and shoves his hands in them (!) I sure hope people wash their beans before eating them.
    So - perhaps this is a manifestation of the sensory integration dysfunction.
    When we got him he was actually very affectionate and used to being touched. He wasn't the horror-story (actually, typical) orphanage baby. He went from indiscriminate affection to stranger shy within a couple of months. So like I said, I don't rule out attachment issues but when we got him he wasn't as obviously damaged as many. Not saying he wasn't damaged or he didn't have a rough start - he was and did - but we were all lucky in our first few months.
    So - here's my baby:
    He probably has Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).
    He probably has attachment problems.
    I worry about Bipolar.
    I need to start saving for a therapeutic treatment program. I can see the writing on the wall.
    We all need therapy.
    My husband and I need prescriptions to anti-depressants and Xanax or maybe we need to drink more. (jk!)
    Maybe he's on the autism spectrum (although I'm still very skeptical of this).
    He definitely needs medication. adjustment.
    I CANNOT WAIT until our neuropsychologist appointment!
    Thanks everyone.
    Today I am going to be caaaaaaalllllllmmmmmm.
  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Maybe. It's worth checking out.

    Again, worth checking out but as you said, he seemed a lot less damaged than most. However, some degree of attachment problem is almost inevitable.

    There are a lot of other possibilities which, given your descriptions, I feel are more likely. Observe his mood changes and try to get inside his head. Can you find reasons, from HIS point of view, for the mood changes? It's sometimes worth asking him, too, why he feels a particular way. Because if HE has reasons which he can state for feeling happy, sad, angry - then chances are, it's less likely to be bipolar.

    Yep. It's cheaper to do it sooner rather than later, for all of you.

    I know you're being flippant, but seriously - I found that having even one drink while the kids were still out of bed, greatly reduced my ability to cope with them. I learned to wait to have my drink until AFTER I got the kids settled for the night.

    I respect your scepticism. However, the more you tell us, the more I feel that autism needs to be high on the list of things to consider. Your description of him shoving his hands in the containers of beans at the shop, for example - oh, that sounds so typical! It's Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) type stuff again. difficult child 3 has his collection of things he likes to do, that he gravitates to. Basically, small round things, things that can fall (especially in interesting ways such as a ball race that operates like a fairground ride), bubbles, clods of earth dropped on a path, droplets of oil, lava lamps, waves by the sea (or water in many forms especially falling water such as waterfalls or fountains), marbles and marble mazes, and finally - packets of beans or rice or similar. It soothes him greatly, he takes a lot of joy in these things. He can stare at them for hours, or fiddle with them for hours. he's always fiddling with things, his fingers are never still. His pockets are full of rubbish, sticks, stones or shells he collects while walking around. Bottle caps, broken bits of plastic, anything shiny.

    YOu still haven't got a firm diagnosis, so all you can treat with medications is the symptoms. Plus a lot of symptoms are not medication-treatable. There are other ways but again - a diagnosis makes it a lot easier to know what to do.
    When it comes to choosing the best medications for the problem, Temple Grandin said it well. She said to look for the WOW factor. IN other words, if you try something and you don't notice a significant change, a sort of, "Wow! What a difference that makes!" reaction, then chances are it's not worth the trouble to use that medication (or therapy, or whatever it is).

    A thought for you to consider - you've mentioned possible Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), plus some of us are thinking possible autism in some form. So how is he with being held firmly, especially if he is in control of the strength of the pressure? I used to put my hand on difficult child 3's face at times when he as feeling anxious (and at other times too, of course) and he would sometimes grab my hand and move it a little to the place he preferred me to hold him. He would press my hand on more firmly at times. When he'd had enough he would take my hand away or move away.
    We bought a weighted vest for him, plus difficult child 1 also tried it out. We found some weights and difficult child 1 sometimes would lie on his bed on his back and rest the weights on his chest. Or they might like to be tucked into bed very tightly, because they find it comforting.
    I mentioned how easy child 2/difficult child 2 was (and still is) very snuggly. It's in the sig, in fact. She often would ask to be held firmly. Then in her late teens when she was also embracing the Goth look, she discovered a shop in Sydney that makes genuine corsets. She bought a couple and began lacing herself into tight corsets. She loves to wear them tightly laced, she says "it's like wearing a hug." It calms her down.

    If this is something that can help your difficult child, that still doesn't mean he has autism. But it is a possible therapy to consider, one he can control himself to a certain extent. It's also something you can experiment with yourselves, to find something he likes that soothes him. You can experiment together and maybe get easy child to join in too, find out what easy child likes. Because liking something such as this doesn't mean he's abnormal. It's OK to be different especially if you can find a socially acceptable way to cope a bit better.

    It seems you've summarised the information down to some very clear basics. From here it would help you to take notes, keep a diary of sorts so when you finally do get an appointment with someone for him, you have some notes to share that can help shed light on the range of problems you are having with him.

  18. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    I'd like to offer you something after you've been given all this information. You are an overwhelmed parent with a challenging child.

    Take some deep breaths (don't forget to breath during the day); at a calm moment write out a parent report. Keep a daily journal of behaviors (note these behaviors like an objective observer versus a worn out parent).

    There are so many "could be's" - we cannot diagnosis here. We can only offer you what we know as parents of our own difficult children. We are not in your home, nor are we walking in your shoes.

    Make sure you & husband are tagging off to one another & find time for a long bubble bath with a good book or whatever else gives you peace.

    Be gentle with yourself & don't forget to breath.
  19. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    I'm seconding what timerlady just said about keeping a notebook on your child, starting today. I did this when my son was discharged from a hospital stay for generalized anxiety disorder and had been put on a number of new medications. It's nearly impossible to remember everything to tell a doctor, and the more "scientific" you are about it, the better. i just got a plain old composition notebook and for each day, I noted what time difficult child 2 woke up, what his mood was at the time, did he make it to school that day, did he eat, what medications he took. I put a graph line on the bottom with his waking hours on the line and actually "charted" his moods for about a month or so. I also made note of any stressors: family argurments, illness, social interactions, etc. Anything going on that might influence his mood or anxiety.

    It also helps make you feel a little less like you've got one foot nailed to the floor, and you're walking around in circles....

    Oh, and since it's cold outside, I've been treating myself to a cup of homemade hot chocolate at night, the good stuff, with a shot of rum or brandy in it. After my youngest is in bed, of course. It's a small treat but a reward for getting through another day.you need to have small rewards spaced out for yourself so you don't get completely burnt out.

    My issues aren't the same as yours, but I can empathize with your frustration over getting a proper diagnosis. Adding medications complicates that, because what works for one kid may not work for another. But you have to try everything.
  20. ML

    ML Guest

    Manster! He's attention seeking but because he's an only and has received MORE than any sane person could imagine I think we created a monster. Now he gets upset if he's in a room and people "ignore him" lol. At least now, that he is older, he tells me what he's feeling and I can give him some things to consider. "Manster people aren't always going to give us attention, it doesn't work that way. If you need something, ask for it". Teaching them to use their words is huge.