J.J. asks from Twin Falls, ID on November 25, 2008
Son Diagnosed with Early Onset Bipolar Disorder
Hello all...I'm back. My nine year old son was just diagnosed with Early Onset Bipolar Disorder. He was diagnosed with ADHD at age 5 but his couselor is sure now that those symptoms were actually the first signs of his bipolar disorder. I don't know what is in store for us now. I have done a ton of research and don't feel like I know anything. He struggles really bad with homework and neatness in all of his work. His handwriting is horrible. I read that this could be due to the bipolar. Does anyone know if he has any rights to additional help, IEP or 504 at school. His teacher is very unwilling to assist in any way to try and help him to get his homework in or anything. I don't know what his rights are. Also, when it comes to meds I am totally stressing out. I don't like the sounds of any of them. He goes to the doc in Dec to change meds. There are no support groups in my area that I know of. His roller coaster moods are about to drive me insane...I just need to know that others are going through this and that it does improve. BTW, this diagnosis was not reached easily. I fought it for a year, we tracked his moods daily, he has been in counceling and partial care.
So What Happened?™
I want to thank everyone for the tremendous support. I plan to go into his school on Tuesday and request the 504. I really appreciate the information you all gave. I will update further when I know more. (by the way, a couple of you asked where I am from...I live in Twin Falls, ID)
B.F. answers from Colorado Springs on November 26, 2008
B.H. answers from Denver on November 26, 2008
I can only imagine how frustrated you must be! My sister was diagnosed with bipolar when she was very young and we were all so lost. My mom now works for a group called Empower Colorado. It is a non-profit organization that provide support, education, and services for families with mental illness or special needs. I know that there are several support groups that meet monthly around the state. They can also help you with dealing with the school and getting the services you need. My mom's name is Darcy Callies and she can be reached at ###-###-####. She won't be back in the office until Monday but if you would like to talk to her sooner, contact me directly and I will give you her home phone number. I hope that this helps.
S.D. answers from Fort Collins on November 25, 2008
I've been noticing lately that many behavioral problems are found eventually to be or treated by improving digestive/allergy problems. You said that you had him retested for the allergies, did you check on the ones that he had previously and they were gone, or was it a complete retest?
A friend of mine found out that his dysfunctional teen-age daughter's consistant behavioral problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in her brain triggered by consuming wheat gluten, which she is highly allergic to.
A different friend had severe migranes consistantly and they were finally (after numerous hospital lab tests) found by a chiropracter to be the result of a sulfide allergy- sulfides are in almost everything!
And I was just reading an article about uncontrollable and self-destructive behaviors (head banging) in autistic children being reduced with probiotic supplements to equalize the digestive function.
Also I recently read that the actor who played Harry Potter has a disease that makes motor control between the body and the brain more challenging- leading in his case to bad handwriting.
I totally understand if you want to fight this diagnosis- it seems like some doctors try to find the easiest or the easiest "treated" diagnosis just to collect the fee and get you out so they can go golfing or whatever.
If you have questions aboout it research the accepted symptoms- if they don't fit, maybe it's grounds for further testing, maybe more extensive allergy testing could find a source of the problems that was previously over-looked. I am all for finding a solution that actually improves things instead of just covering them up.
If it comes to it possibly try the new meds and see if there's a notable improvement. If you do conclude that it's bi-polar; you should join a group on-line if you want to gain support and learn from others who face a similar behavioral disorder in their children. I hope that you can help him and you are doing the right thing by wanting to find-out more, maybe someone at his school could be a helpful reference for you:)
J.L. answers from Provo on November 26, 2008
Yes you do have rights. I was a teacher and as a teacher we are supposed to accomodate for these kinds of things. You probably do need to get an IEP or 504 or something, for the teacher to be more willing. Really they should be more willing already. I had a student that had these kinds of problems he was a teenager. Most teachers are very simpathetic to visible disabilities, but they struggle with the other. Unfortunately. I know as a Mom that has to be so frustrating. You know it isn't your fault, but teachers with all the kids they have to deal with sometimes like to think it is, so they don't feel bad about not accomodating. It is hard as a teacher to have to worry about these kinds of things too. But it is something that they need to do.
M.B. answers from Salt Lake City on November 26, 2008
He should be eligible for special education due to his diagnosis. He could qualify for special ed through either the classification of Emotionally Disturbed or Other Health Impairment. I am a special ed teacher. I teach at a residential treatment center for kids that have mental illness. You should be more assertive with the teacher and the school administration in order to get him tested.
As far as support groups go, you can contact NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) for education and support. Utah has a chapter. Their phone number is ###-###-####.
B.F. answers from Colorado Springs on November 26, 2008
Nutrition, as you may know, can tremendously help these types of things. I know of amazing nutrition that he would love to drink ;) Let me know if you would like more information. This stuff is truly amazing.
E.B. answers from Salt Lake City on November 26, 2008
First, let me give you Kudos for recognizing the problem and being willing to address it. Second, you have rights and so does he. You will have to advocate for them.
The first thing I recommend is that you get in touch with the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill.(NAMI) They have a family to family support network nationwide. They have excellent information about your son's problems and can help you find solutions in your community for addressing them.
Second, Take a note from your doctor with the diagnosis to the special education department or principal for your school. INSIST he be evaluated and placed on an IEP. if they say he doesn't qualify, tell them you want an OHI designation (other health impaired). This will give you specific rights under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This is important, as it will ensure his legal right to an education and other services now and it continues through into adulthood.
Third, get some counseling and a support network for you. A mentally ill child is a huge caretaking task (I have two) and if you don't get help establishing boundaries,and taking care of yourself, your existence can become hellish. Don't let it get to that.
Fourth, get him on meds right away. His brain is wiring itself for adulthood, if it wires itself in the absence of necessary neurotransmitters for impulse control, he will always be unable to control himself. Don't let that happen. We know more about these disorders than in the past and you need a good pediatric psychiatrist to help you on this journey. Take him where ever you need to to get that.
I have walked this road, my parents both have mental illness diagnosis and my husband and two of my three children also suffer with major psychiatric disorders.Doing little or nothing will only result in heartbreak and other painful experiences.
Best of luck,
N.W. answers from Salt Lake City on November 26, 2008
Growing up with a mother who was bi-polar, I understand what you are going through. I couldn't begin to imagine having to be the real parent in the situation. I felt I grew up way too fast and wasn't able to be a child because I always had to take care of my mom. He sounds rapid cycling? Is he more manic or depressed? What meds has he been on? What do they want to put him on? I do know that a lot of kids who are diagnosed with ADHD ultimately get diagnosed as bi-polar... I am so sorry that you have to deal with this, let me know if you have any questions or concerns in your overwhelming time.
M.M. answers from Denver on November 26, 2008
J. - I can't personally relate to your dilemma but I would try two things, first, change his diet and feed him very healthy foods. No sugars, maybe cut the dairy a little and the wheat. You'd be amazed what a healthy diet does for kids behavior, and second, I would seriously consider switching schools. Might not be an easy task but you need to find a school with teachers willing to help. Shame on that teacher. Good luck!
L.P. answers from Denver on November 26, 2008
I recommend the books and a DVD by Janice Papolos and her husband, Demitri Papolos. Go to their website at www.bipolarchild.com . Lots of helpful information and someone who understands, really understands, what you and your child are going through. They also have a model IEP and recommendations on how to advocate for your child in the school setting.
Another helpful resource is the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation. There are links to that organization on the Papolos website.
I also meet regularly with three other moms who have children with bipolar disorder. Not a big formal support group, but just hanging out with friends who really understand. We share stories, resources and hugs.
My prayers are with you. I hope these resources will help you and I hope you find friends who can walk this journey with you.