When did you realize your grown child was different?


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And why?

Some know right away. Some younger kids are fine until something bad happens. Some are great until the teens and all sorts of unexpected issues kick in.How many have kids from different genepools and feel that perhaps the father's DNA is a factor in their child's atypical behavior? None of my children are genetically related.

When did you know? What do you feel is wrong? Do you think your child was ever diagnosed right? Do you feel the doctors understood your child at all or did the doctors dismiss his/her problems and/or made them worse? Did medication work? Do you think he/she is getting more capable or less or the same?

I talked to 36 today and he is so much calmer and nicer when he isn't under stress. Much nicer than he used to be ALL THE TIME. Yet I know he has done things I don't even know about that are awful. I thought maybe we could try to find a common thread with our kids, if there is one.

In my case, 36 was fine and smiley and friendly until about age 18 months when I noticed he liked to hurt other kids in the park, and he did it with a smile. He was extremely advanced intellectually for his age so I knew he was aware of what he was doing and that it was wrong, but this made him happy. It continued. He was very hard to deal with within our famly and abused his sister when I was working, although she isn't the type to tell me. I wish she had. Now she hates him. I don't blame her. At 19 he got Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) so badly that he had to drop out of college, stop working, and briefly collected SSI. Briefly, he could not stop counting the words others said, including his professors, to the point where he couldn't comprehend what anyone said. It freaked him out and he was on all sorts of medications at the time, a constant ER visitor, and very suicidal. Yet he did get counseling and started running, snapped out of it, went to work and the rest is history. This Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) nightmare never happened again. But he has never been entirely stable.

Doctors REALLY did not know the whole of what was wrong with him. Much more is going on than Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but that's all any of them ever caught, even after he was hospitalized then evaluated. He remains a mystery to this day, but I think he is narcissistic like my father, who is classic. But this has never been diagnosed.

But he still has high anxiety. So many issues dogged him, yet he was so mean to those who wanted to help him. I think he is getting better, save for when he is under stress. Then I can barely speak to him.

As for Julie, she was a happy little infant when we got her. In her first year of preschool, she would not speak. Nobody heard her talk. They liked her and wanted to sit next to her, but she didn't talk. The second year of pre-school, she did talk and the other kids were delighted. "Hey, Julie's talking!" I have no idea why she didn't speak the first year at school.She is basically very shy.

At age 12 she started telling the kids at school that her father worked for a candy company and started shoplifting candy to give to the kids in order to make friends. This was after she was sexually assaulted. Her fake father story worked. Nobody knew she was stealing and she never got caught. She did not do this to be "bad." She always wanted to be loved and accepted by all. Later, sh e got into drugs because the drug crowd is more excepting of others than any other group (so she says). She was still very shy. Drugs allowed her to not feel shy and she suddenly exploded in popularity, at least with the bad and marginal kids. I think that's sad. At the crux of it, she was always a loving, caring daughter who wanted us to love her just like she wanted all of her peers to love her. Fortunately, she did grow up and quit the drugs and trying to make everyone like her and now lives a quiet life with her baby and SO. By her own admission she is not very social. She thinks of SO as her best friend and isn't all that interested in making lots of new friends. She is a lot like me that way.

Julie did not talk to her therapists and conned them well. After she was put into the hospital for trying to kill herself, the psychiatrist told me she did not use drugs and that she was even drug tested and came out clean. I believed him and was very relieved. This was very bad for our family. We stopped worrying about her just when her drug use was amping up. To this day she shakes her head and talks about how dumb the doctors were at that hospital. So I guess they failed her.

Both of them were obviously problematic before the trouble kicked in. And Julie was able to overcome her difficulties where as 36 still has them.

Sonic was hard early on due to his autism, but once the meltdowns stopped, he was easy peasy. Jumper is the easiest, most pleasant, most seemingly kind and well-adjusted of the group. She has been a breeze to raise and also a pleasure all the way.

Jumper displayed no abnormal or strange behaviors from infancy on and has always been very true to herself and very socially adept. Even now, at college, she knows everybody and is friends with her entire dorm. Is it how you start out? Can we tell even before they are five years old if they will struggle or not?

I'm sorry if nobody wants to chime in. I have just been doing some deep thinking (again) and wonder if others sort of saw that their kids would struggle in certain areas...or in all of life for a long time.
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Ah, the blame game.

I really never had too much of that because I was mentally ill myself and as horrible as my parents were I just knew, in the way that we know things about ourselves that others can't, that this was an inborn thing...that my parents, rotten or not, had not caused my problems. Except maybe by passing along some bad genes.

I hope everyone comes to find the peace of accepting that our grown children are what they are because of mostly their lack of inbred resilience and that they and only they can make themselves successful and stronger.

Always remember David Pelzer from "A Child Called It."

Read it if you hadn't. Ask yourself how he didn't ever get into legal trouble with what he went through. I have, many times.


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Mine was difficult from day one, but it came evident he truly was different when he got to toddlerhood and started to have other ways to express himself than just crying. One can of course not know if he inherited his difference, if it was something during the pregnancy (I did have a bad flu early on and few other bugs during pregnancy, I was also stressed and one of course doesn't know about all kinds of chemicals and moulds etc. one may have been exposed to), or if it was just bad luck and some mutation happened in bad time when he was just cluster of cells. In the end it doesn't matter. He was born with certain issues and certain gifts like any one of us. That was what we had to work with. And work we did.

We decided that we would do everything in our power to help him reach his potential. To help him become as high functioning than was possible for him. Now that he is an adult I have questioned that decision even though at the time it felt like such a no-brainer.

Of course we have no way of knowing how things would had turned out if we have chosen differently. If we had celebrated his specialness instead of being driven to teach him skills and help him function at the top of his ability. We can not know if he would had turned any less emotionally scarred if we would had chosen 'the special needs'-lifestyle for him. In fact we can't even know if he would had turned any less functioning if we had done that (though he very likely wouldn't be a pro athlete nor would his plan B be medication school, if we had done different choices when he was young.)

but yes, I have questioned especially one decision we made when he was in elementary school. Because of his school issues he was offered a place from special education classroom targeted to kids in higher end of autism spectrum or similar issues. We agreed to it and after he had been placed there for some time, we noticed he had picked up all the autistic mannerism really well. We felt that his social skills were backsliding and also the academics were in question. He wasn't supposed to have any curricular accommodations, but it was a year he was starting to learn English and we noticed they were really not keeping up with mainstream classes. We didn't consider science or social science a problem (easy to catch up), his reading ability and also ability in our second language (we are not bilingual family per se, I'm only officially bilingual in our family, but because of our environment also husband and both the boys are functionally bilingual) were not the cause to worry and he already mastered the whole elementary school maths curriculum and some more, but English was a new thing and languages are always much more difficult to catch up later, if you get left behind in the beginning. Because of that we asked him to be moved back to mainstream class, and it certainly was easy to get the school to agree (difficult child was coming up with all kinds of 'fun' ideas for his more affected class mates to try.)

But if I'm honest, our challenge to accept autistic mannerism was part of the reason. There were two memorable situation that fall. One was in one of the difficult child's more leisurely sports, when the coach started to hint how the other club had a team for special needs kids and how his neighbour's son who is with severe down syndrome really enjoyed it and maybe it would be more appropriate group for our son. The same son of ours who was athletically gifted, extremely competitive, hated losing and had just couple months earlier been selected the best player of the very high level summer camp in his main sport. Apparently one kid flapping his hands while running on the field was too much for them. Other was maybe a month later, when we took boys to Christmas shopping to the big mall. Okay, difficult sensory situation, but still difficult child's behaviour, again running around flapping his hands and shrieking like a rooster whole time was too much for us. Superficial or not, but that change in our son's behaviour was simply too much.

We had worked so hard to teach him skills and it felt like all that was for nought. All those countless hours used to train him with latest animal training methods provided by most cutting edge behavioural science, all the occupational therapy, both by therapist and by us at home, everything we had work so hard with seemed to be going to drain and he was backsliding to much more special needs kid.

When back to mainstream the mannerism slowly rubbed off and he also quickly caught up in English (and ended with 97 % in his final exams.) But maybe if we had left him to that class, or pressed to get him to special education even earlier on, when it was considered before he started school, he would had grown up to be a happier, less scarred person. Or maybe he would be angry he wasn't given a chance to become what he wanted, to try to chase his dreams. One can not know. Even if I would ask him, he would have no way of knowing, which route would had been preferable.

And of course: Alea iacta est. And now we are all living with it.


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Cedar, he was starved, ostracised, given bleach to drink, cut off from his family who had to refer to him as "it", banished to the cold garage at a very young age even at night, assaulted, emotionally abused beyond what any of us have known, and finally rescued by a kind teacher and put into foster care, which is also no picnic.

Yet, for those who don't know, he never saw jail. He joined the military and left honorably. He spent his life trying to help other abused kids. He is a kind father who never lays a hand on his son. He is one of my heroes.

So this nurture thing is not absolute. Next time we blame ourselves because our difficult children say we were bad parents and their lives are all our faults, think about David Pelzer. In the end, it was his decision to be a better man than his mother was a parent. It is a choice all of our difficult children make...to be better or to bum out about w hat they think (true or false) was a bad childhood. David Pelzer suffered from reacdtive attachment disorder, which is quite serious and did affect his ability to show his feelings correctly in marriage. But he still didn't end up on drugs or in jail.

David has a younger brother who became the object of his mother's serious abuse after David was rescued. He also did not end up in jail. Again, he made a choice.

There are thousands of abused children who do better than our adult children and thousands who do the same things or worse. By age eighteen it is no longer us, it is a personal choice about how to handle what th ey feel (right or wrong) was an unjust childhood. One plus one doesn't equal two in childrearing. Our children become who they are largely through genetics and personality traits and, if we are lucky, they retain a bit of what we taught them.

None of us taught our adult children to be rude, to threaten physically or emotionally those we love, to abuse substances, to steal, or to break the law at all. Most of us did EVERYTHING available to us as a resource to help our child, often going into debt. Their behavior becomes a choice when they are legally old enough to decide what kind of person they wish to be. The older they get, the more it becomes their own decision.

Interestingly, and not surprising, David and Richard Pelzer's mother and father, when he was there, did not choose to get their young children help or to get help themselves. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Contrast that with our constant battle.

Food for thought.


Active Member
I knew. He was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary. Trouble trouble trouble. Lie lie lie. All.the.time. You know, I used to think he was my karma for things I had done that were wrong in my life. Having kids single. Not being married. Disappointing my parents.

It is a wonder- an absolute wonder- I got that boy out of school. Never saw a day of juvenile. When he went to inpatient treatment for a suicide threat in 10th grade, one of the psychiatrists told me she was SHOCKED he had never been in the juvenile justice system.

It was there that they pegged him ODD.

He's a master manipulator. A MASTER. If he used all that energy for good, he'd certainly be a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health -even just 10-15 years ago- it was me overreacting....he was just a 'growing boy'. He was a 'busy child'. Yes, he was angry- because others would tell him it was because he had no involved dad. Never once did I hear anyone say- boy, you are blessed- you have an involved loving mother!

He frustrated me to no end. Made me feel absolutely helpless most of the time. Made me cry more often than not. Frustration. Anger.

I often would tell myself that God gave him to ME because anyone else would have literally beat him.

I look back at some of those years now and I have no idea how I did that- raised easy child and difficult child alone. I really don't.

easy child, God Bless her, is a gem. She was often overlooked about a lot of things because I was so busy/preoccupied/broke behind her brother.

She loves him. She does. There were times, as he was 16/17/18 that she would defend him. Say I was too harsh.

And there were times I was too harsh- with my words. He has told me that before- and I've apologized, because as much as he doesn't believe it, I really and truly love that boy and did everything I could to help him be NORMAL.

If you have an autistic child, or visibly noticeable disabled child- people feel for you. They empathize. But a child like mine? People judge. Think it's me. I, most of the time, don't give much stock to the opinions of those who do not pay my bills. But you know, it's hurtful. It's hard to see a kid get arrested, and on the news, the first thing you hear is "raised by single mother", "absent father", and they list all the awful things. But they never go past that.

difficult child has his soft spots. His main issue is the absolute need to fit in. Be accepted.

I should have done more. I should have put my foot down more with him and with getting him help. That is my one regret. I did, however, do the best I could with what I had at the time.