Advice on ADHD

Updated on August 19, 2008
I.T. asks from Union, OR
38 answers

I have a 2 year old and every DR we have been to thinks he is ADHD. I need some ideas on how to discipline him and help him behave. He throws horrific tantrums and hurts himself because of them. He hates being told to go play, has a high pich scream that is very loud you can hear it even across the street,etc. I get embarased by his behavior whenever we go out, I feel like People looking at the spectical are judging. How do we acheive some normalcy and peace? It would be nice to be able to take him out to do things.

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So What Happened?

Hi, i am Ivamays fiancee. We have raised our 2yr and 7 month old son together, and i believe quite well. Iva is 27, I am 57 and have a 32 yr old daughter, and a 28 yr old daughter, and we have a 7 month old son together. Iva is bipolar and adhd, we have gotten diagnosis from 3 different doctors on our son. I still do not want to go down that road, "meds and such". The best advice so far we got from Phil McGraw, and would put our 2yr 7 mo old in his room, door locked for an all out tantrum. The first day was 6 hours of door slaming, screaming, banging etc, but as DR Phil told us dont give up, well now it's tapered to 2 hr's max, and helping. What I wish to say is I respect your opinion's and greatly appreciate them, but was a little upset to see the response that suggested we were worried about our feelings so much, and the DR's were nuts. What I. may not have included in her original post is the our son will throw himself on the floor and cut his lips, bang his head against the wall until bleeding, bang so hard his nose is bleeding, and keep right on with the tantrum not knowing he is bleeding clear down his chest. So involved in the anger or whatever that he do's not sense the pain. I am a hard Dad, I believe in a spanking when he has it coming, but my heart just crys for this little guy, he can be the biggest little lover in the world, helps Dad work on the Car and lawnmower, and loves to share my tools, and loves to show love and be loved. More advise would be appreciated, but please dont get the idea that we are worried about ourselves, that is the last thing we are concerned with, or we would not be asking for your help.
We will not give up on our son. THANK YOU all

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D.J.

answers from Seattle on

Hi I.,

There are lots of moms out there who understand what you are going through. Several moms have actually found that they can help their children who have ADHD to have better control when their bodies are feeling better and that is through excellent nutrition. I work with a nutritional suppelment for kids, through Reliv, that several of my friends have used to help their children who have ADHD and have found it to make a world of diference. I would be happy to share more if you want. You can contact me by phone or email.

D. J.
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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J.K.

answers from Bellingham on

Have they looked into sensory integration disorders at all? Some of this behavior sounds very like my two year old who is recieving therapy with an OT. Things are getting better.

Jenn

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C.C.

answers from Eugene on

I have a friend with a 6 year old boy and they were questioning whether he had ADHD. Their pediatrician said that pretty much every kid from the age of 2-6 has signs of ADHD, it's just the age. I think people are too quick to diagnose kids with ADHD and stick them on medication so I'm glad you're asking for alternatives! I'm a firm believer in strong discipline (including spanking)! I have a VERY active 5 1/2 year old son and he's been VERY active his whole life. There are days I want to rip my hair out even though I love him to bits! At 2 years old they don't really have a very long attention span so you need to find various activities that he likes. Since it's summer time, take him outside to RUN and RUN and RUN! LOL That will help wear him out. Try kicking a ball back and forth, playing chase, wrestling around...anything to focus all the energy he has into something constructive. Also you can do things like fingerpaint, sidewalk chalk, or various projects that let him be creative!

As for discipline, I don't tolerate disrespect or blatant disobeying. I give a warning that if the behavior doesn't stop then he will get a spanking. Time outs can work if you are not comfortable with spanking. You just have to be consistant in whatever form of discipline you choose. I also can suggest maybe checking out some episodes of Super Nanny! As lame as that sounds, she has really good ideas for entertaining the kids and discipline!

Good luck!

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Z.A.

answers from Seattle on

I think this post may break a record, even for me. :) This is a subject that's near and dear to my heart. I'm going to break it into segments to make it a little more readable. The terrible thing about me and writing is that I do go ON. The nice thing is that I'm not editing for publication here...so I can :)

I would like to say right off from the beginning though, that I LOVE one of the things you said in your question "help him behave." Teaching and helping and reminding works soooooo much better then making, requiring, or demanding.

On we go.
____________________________________________________
On Doctors & Diagnosis
____________________________________________________

Ordinarily I would agree that saying a 2 year old has ADHD is pushing it, to say the least. I think for a doctor to actually "diagnose" ADHD in a 2 year old is probably ludicrous with the technology we have available. However, I AM adhd. I've had it for as long as I can remember (because it is a very large part of what defines who I am and always have been)& I didn't all of a sudden come down with it ... it isn't something that magically disappears on a persons 18th birthday. It's just part of who I am...how I think, feel, & react. I DON'T think of it as a disorder, and do in fact LOVE it...since I've learned how to work around 90% of the problems that come along with it. :) That's the important bit. I'd say problems to good = 1 problem for every 5 good or great things.

So....back to diagnosing. When my son was 3, we were told by his preschool teacher (Montessori) that he had "ungodly" concentration. He would sit and work on the same thing for hours. What? This isn't normal? Doesn't everybody? Ah...hmmmmm. Well, hyperfocus IS a hallmark of adhd. He's super active (we turned our living room into an acrobatics room for over 2 years. He's also very verrrrrry emotional. Does that mean my son has it? Maybe. Maybe not. I suspect it's highly possible, and have known my children will have a stronger possibility of it then people without adhd. They would also have a stronger chance of being bipolar or addicts/alcoholics (even though I'm not, all three markers are right next to each other on the same gene...when you find a family with one, you frequently find the other 2 in that family as well). So if you have adhd, I can see you seeing yourself in your son as I do. Only time will tell of course. So too, if there's family history, I can see Dr.'s saying it's possible/probable.

I think the fear that so many of the posters have expressed (quite rightly) relates to the ridiculous over-diagnosing of adhd. (According to the Director of Psych @ Childrens Hospital in Seattle...the next big trend in bipolarity. ::sigh:: Does it always have to be something???) This culture wants quiet obedient kids...that's not the way kids, especially young ones, ARE most of the time! But to a lot of parents doping up their kids is what makes their job easy. To a lot more: Doctor's always right, and to STILL MORE we ALL want the BEST for our kids. It can be hard for people without adhd to see the myriad joys and wonders and benefits that ALSO come along with it...so they try and medicate for "normalcy", under the idea that that's the only way to give their kids a chance. It breaks my heart...but everyone's got their own path to walk.

I WOULD however be extremely wary of ANY pediatrician/family practitioner diagnosing or treating ANY kind of mental illness or disorder from ADHD to Depression to Xenophobia. Most good ones CAN but most GREAT ones refer you on to specialists...for darn good reason. Then of course the trick to to find a great psychologist. There are sooooooo many different schools of thought/practice in psychology that this can be an adventure in and of itself. I personally recommend that anyone seeking a psychologist
1.) pick up a psych 101 book and read up on the different branches of psychology (for a quick look...go here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_psychology_disciplin...;

2) be willing to interview at least 3 different people.

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On Embarrassment & Judgmental People
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Probably some people are judging you. The point I had to get to myself was not only:

1) I DON'T CARE, but also

2)A firm conviction that I was doing what was right and best for my child.

I'd be willing to fight to the death for my son, but it was hard in the beginning to realize that if I was willing to go that far I ALSO willing to keep my chin up and shoulders back. "What? Are we disturbing your choice of oranges, or your enjoyment of canned elevator music? I'm not sorry Joe-Schmoe, your auditory wellbeing means jack to my son's emotional and mental wellbeing. If it bothers you go be a hermit or take vows and live in a monastery. This is real life." <laughing> not that I ever actually got the chance to SAY anything like that...but I frequently wrapped it around myself like a mantel before getting out of the car. OF COURSE there's a time and a place to teach respect towards others.

Some people give you LOOKS (most are too chicken to be a horses patoot and say something), but the ones who actually came up to me the most tended to be grandmothers patting me on the shoulder saying "Gosh, these years are so hard. Keep it up dearie!" or <laughing again> sighs and smiles with an "I miss that stage" from parents with teenagers reluctantly in tow. Ahhh...Life.

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On Normalcy & Peace
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I haven't gotten there yet. Let's see:

Laughter and Joy and Wonder? yes.
Struggles? yes.
Listening & Patience? Usually.
Crisis and crisis narrowly averted? Many many many times.

Peace...I've found that rests squarely on my own shoulders and is almost entirely dependent on my outlook.

The rest...the good and the bad...I'd say that was normal. So perhaps a "yes" for normalcy in that it's GOOD, but it's HARD.

So I'm close...but I think we'll always be striving & learning. I bet you're closer then you think, too.

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On Tantrums & Discipline ... Z.-Style
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1. Patience
2. Consistance
3. Happiness

We too, had horrific temper-tantrums. In large part, that's why we kept him in his crib (in the lowest setting) until he was 3 and a half.

The best thing I learned was how to not let them affect me. When he was 2ish : He'd throw himself (onto the floor, into a wall, etc.) and I'd put a big grin on my face, scoop him up (I learned to be careful and quick...he broke my nose 3 times when he was little), and pop him into his crib. "You're on timeout until you calm down kiddo." I'd tell him, then I'd leave his bedroom door open. I'd go about my business.

When the tempo started to slow down, I'd go in and pat him on the back, give him a big smile, and say "Oh good! You're starting to calm down! Good for you, love!!" Sometimes this would kick off another tantrum, sometimes it wouldn't. If it DIDN'T I'd keep smiling and talk to him, letting him know he could come out as soon as he'd calmed down, and how proud I was that he was calming down. I would usually give him a bottle/sippy as I talked to him. I'd also ask him if he wanted to be alone or if he wanted me to stay with him as he calmed down. We ran about 50/50 on that also.

The whole time we just stayed matter of fact. Freakout meant time to be scooped up. Calming down meant praise, big smiles from us, and eventual freedom. I had to come to the place where my emotional response was "Oh, poor kiddo. Off you go!"

Think I managed that 100% of the time? HA! On those times when I scooped him up and put him in I still tried to do it tenderly...but I'd tell him "Mommy's getting upset and needs a timeout, too. I'm going outside, I'll be back in in a few."

In time (about a year) he'd put HIMSELF on timeout...Usually on the stairs or behind a curtain. "I need be ALONE!!!" he'd scream, "Go TIMEOUT!!!" and he'd waddlestomp off.

Also in time, we'd start talking about WHY he was on timeout and WHY he was freaking out, and WHAT were some things he could do next time.

This process is long. It takes a long time, and it's not 100%. (Meaning he's six and still goes on timeout, but the horrific tantrums were over by the time he was 4). We taught him how to take a deep breath and count to five when he felt himself beginning to lose it. We've backslid from time to time...but his emotions are so strong we felt it was better to gradually teach him how to self-regulate, how to identify and parse what was going on, and to gradually teach better responses to overwhelming situations. We have friends who have punished into obedience...but we've never actually "punished" our son. Instead we model and teach, which is a helluva lot harder on us...but is better for him in the long run. (Ohhhhh yeah, Mommy will send herself on timeout until she's not angry, too. And OOOOHHHHHH YEAH....there's DEFINITE consequences : if he throws woodchips at the park we go home right then, even if we just got there. If he threw a fit at the grocery store we'd go outside and sit until he calmed down and then we'd go back in. On of our mantra's is "If you throw a fit, you don't get what you want. Period.")

So hang in there. Put yourself in his shoes, and try and see what you would want in that situation...and then model down for his age/experience. You guys can do this.

Wishing you peace,
Z.

PS.

I decided to add this because you asked for ideas (which translates to our experiences).

(We don't spank for 2 reasons. Firstly, I can remember quite clearly to being about 2 years old. Before that it gets kind of blurry/fractured. Just a few images & feelings. Secondly, I remember whirlwinds of anger/pain/fear surrounding being spanked...but never the reason. Spanking DID work with my brother and sister (who are not ADD) but with me it was just MAJOR SENSORY OVERLOAD...and only taught me to fear my parents. So I resolved as a child never to spank my kids, as an adult I save it for extremely special circumstances (which have yet to happen.)

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C.P.

answers from Bellingham on

Hi I. and fiancee,
I feel your pain and frustration. My son had terrible tantrums from the time that he was little too, exactly as you described. As hard as it is sometimes putting them in their room till they regroup themselves is the best advice that I ever got too. My son is now 14 and has since be diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and to this day when he is raging like that he is sent to his room. It is heartbreaking to see your little one have so much going on inside of them that they just don't know what else to do with it and all the "normal" ways of parenting just doesn't seem to work. I went through years of trying various methods of discipline...anywhere from spanking to keeping him in his room all day. Timeouts, love and logic, 1,2,3 magic....been there done that. My son was even sent to Ryther Child Center when he was 8 because he was so out of control. Many years of telling DR that something wasnt right with him and many years of DR saying that it was my parenting (which of course it wasnt). I found some awesome books out there at Barnes and Noble. My favorite being The Parents Survival Guide To Your ADHD Child. It helped me to understand what was going on inside my little guys head and why he was doing what he was doing. Another thing that I am finding is helping is karate. I opposed it so long because he was already lethal with his little body and the last thing I wanted to do was teach him how to hit more effectively, but it has been doing wonders in teaching both my ADHD/Bipolar kids self control. I know the center that I use has classes for little ones your guys age so I am sure there are others. If not that then something else that is structured activity to help get some of the excess energy out. Positive reinforcement and consistency have been the key to my survival thus far. I wish you the best and please feel free to send me a message if you need someone whos been there done that.

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C.D.

answers from Richland on

Let me start by saying I have 3 children with add/adhd. Two years 7 months is alittle young to diagnose him but it is not to say it isnt possible. Children are always testing the boundries especially at 2. If you stay firm on rules and explain the behavor expected it helps. My children love structure and a reliable schedule. This may help too. If he throws a fit and is hurting himself I would suggest going behind him and hugging him tight till he has had enough. This way he isnt harming himself as he throws a temper. At 2-3 it is hard for them to communicate their feelings especially add/adhd children. Help him label his feelings and how it makes you feel. If he can label feelings he may be able to use words instead of acting out. In public I always explain what behavor I expect and I have a reward they can get if they behave. If they dont behave well then no reward. They learn quick to behave for the reward. I would wait till he is 5 before seeking medication if he is add/adhd. Keep in mind though that medicine isnt a cure all. It wont cure behavior problems. It just aids them to be able to learn from mistakes and acknowledge feelings and focus their attention. I would check out books from the library explaining add/adhd. My kids doctor specializes in add/adhd and he has a web site if you want to check it out. If you contact him he should be able to say which books would be good to read. The site is www.centerforpediatrics.com
I hope this is helpful and I am not just rambling on. You can feel free to email me if you would like. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone in a simular situation.

C.

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C.D.

answers from Seattle on

Hi I. ,I hear your frustations and i am suggesting that you go to my website :canelledemange.com , i am a neurodevelopmental movement practitioner and work with children who have those symptoms. For many reasons if the brain has not had a chance to mature in the first year of life through all the movement activities that a child normally does , issues in behavior and emotional processes show up .When we have a chance to go over what matures the brain in the first place , the brain has the opportunity to integrate all of its parts .
Feel free to call me ,i will be happy to address your questions .
Lovingly C.

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B.W.

answers from Seattle on

Hi guys , I read your post and some of the responses and I feel your pain. It it very hard, overwhelming and scary to see your own precious baby in such distress. I am a young mom with two rambucious boys ages 9 and 4. I read your post and wanted to reach out to you guys, I hope I can help even if it's just alittle. From my own experience, I discovered first and for most you have to take care of yourself in the midst of all this before you can address the issue. When things are not flairing up, mentally prepare yourself with a strategy to try when a tantrum happens. Make sure you have a handle on your stress level, take a deep breath and know that things won't be like this forever because you know you are about to help your little one through his outburses. A strategy I can offer is that, look for the signs that tell your little one is about to break down so you can be preprared to help your little one through it. The goal is to get your little one to be able to manage his emotions and calm himself. This will take some time, it's not a quick fix, I'd say it will take a couple of years of helping him through his fit. Once you see the signs of a fit coming on, be ready to do this at home so you don't gave to first try this in public while your are busy because you'll have to stop everything and focus only on him, it might even take an hour or so and a few times, but keep going. So you see the signs of him first getting upset before a full on tantrum, now is the time to find out what triggered it. If he can answer questions ask him if he needs help with wahat he's doing or if he's upset because he either can't do something the way he wants or you've said no to something you don't want him to do. The goal is to find out what is triggering him then helping him find a solution he is happy about such as an altitnative to what's got him upset to start with. Does this make sense? I hope so. If he gets to frustrated and can't focus on you then sit on the floor with him and hold him in a hug until he calms down while telling him he is ok and things are ok. This could take an hour or so, that'ts why I say mentally prepare yourself to do this before hand or it will tire you out. After he has calmed down in your arms, it's not over yet, then you have to get him to look at you while you let him know you realize he was upset and if you have a hunch on what triggered him, you can tell him that you notice he was upset when he couldn't get the toy right or when you said no to something or when he couldn't do whatever it was that upset him. The goal is to get him to realize what got him upset, as much as a two year can understand. Then the goal is to help him to know it's ok and he doesn't have to get upset because there are other things he can do that will make him feel better. Be prepared to do this each time you recognize he's about to have a fit. This is just one strategy, but it's one that takes time and mental preparation for you to keep doing it until your little guy gets a hang of it. I hope I helped as best as I could. It's tiring and mentally draining but possible. I wish you guys well.

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K.R.

answers from Portland on

Hi there! I know this is not the first thing anyone wants to hear about their child, but have any of the docs suggested medication for your little one? I have taught preschool and kindergarten for 15 years, and am a huge proponent of meds for ADHD when the child's (and parents') quality of life is suffering. I have seen enormous benefits for students in my class (3 kids on meds in my 15 years of teaching - so it's not done for every kid), and it doesn't affect the core of their personality. I figure, if my child were diabetic, I would get him meds he needed; if my child had impaired vision ro hearing, I would get him what he needed. ADHD is a different medical condition that can be helped with medication, and once the meds begin to help, you would probably also find yourself being able to parent much more successfully without so much stress. Good luck!

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M.T.

answers from Seattle on

My dd is ADHD. She's 3 1/2 and despite our best efforts none of us could keep up with her. We waited as long as we could, but had to start her on medication to keep our sanity. Aside to being impossible to keep up with, we have had her run away numerous times. She now has two forms of ID on her at all times. We even had one incident at the mall where she managed to excape both a stroller and a leash and run around the corner fast enough to chip her skull before any of us could even react. It was a mess. After that we started giving her caffiene before going out as a safety measure. That really helped us get through until she started on medication. Now, I'm a mama who hates medicine. I don't take it unless I absolutely need it. I don't take anything unless I feel like I'm going to die (unless of course I'm giving birth, I know I can make it through that). I was really desperate before I would even consider medicating my dd. I wouldn't reccommend medicating before age 5 unless it really is the only thing that will keep you sane.

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H.P.

answers from Seattle on

Your son is two years old,not an easy age to be told to go play for "normal" kids. I would take him to a therapy center and have him evaluated for development, etc by the expert therapists there. IF your insurance does not cover it, the state of WA does under the birth to 3 plan. A number on the mailer you get at 18 mos, 24 mos. etc has info on the nearest center to you to get evaluated. He may have Sensory Integration Disorder and simply have a very hard time regulating himself. Going out may simply be WAY too stimulating so you may have to take it easy for awhile to avoid more irritation on your part. My oldest daughter had Sensory integration disorder and intensive therapy, without drugs totally reversed the behaviors that were so problematic for the first three years of her life. She was so severely affected that I didn't take her much of anywhere for 6 months.

My daughter also had horrendous tantrums from the age of 3-4 months old and could scream non stop for hours! It was so bad that my pediatrician recommended a form of Valium when the child was 9 months old because she refused to sleep more than an hour at a stretch around the clock. What she needed was help in integrating her brain and ability to regulate. She also needed some serious physical therapy due to developmental delays with sitting, crawling and other tasks. She is now nine years old and completely "normal" and is actually gifted in some areas. With her psychological make up and effort in working with her, we did decide to homeschool her so that she would get the individual learning attention that she needs but she has no outstanding social problems at all. She functions in coop classes well, does well academically, has a group of friends, etc.

Another good source of help is the Handle Institute in Seattle,WA. THey work with brain issues without resorting to medication. THe good news is that he kid is two years old so his brain is "plastic". Concerns dealt with now can be corrected so much more rapidly than when he reaches school age. If you have any more questions on Sensory Integration Disorder or our treatment plans, feel free to contact me.

Good Luck!

H. P.

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A.C.

answers from Seattle on

I., my heart goes out to you and your family!

It sounds like your little guy is a very sensitive and intense little one. How heartwrenching it must be to see him hurt himself becasue he is not yet able to control his emotions!

I commend you and and your fiancee for looking to alternative sources to help your little guy. As some of the others have suggested, I would also recommend have allergy testing, blood testing and hair analysis done to see if he has any food allergies, lead or other heavy metal poisoning, or is deficiant in any vitamins or minerals (magnesium, manganese and zinc in particular.) I would also suggest that you take a look at cranial sacral therapy for him. My cousin's son had some other things going on, but the therapy did wonders for him.

Blessings and best wishes to you and your family!
-A.

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G.H.

answers from Richland on

I feel for you and your fiancee. We had a neighbor with a son that acted that way. A neurologist found out that he had something else- it had something to do with the overstimulation. It was a challenge for the family, but he did get better as he got older with therapy. Last time I saw him he was 9 and he had improved.
My only advice is to try the N.A.E.T. (like Dr. Frank Lawless says- and you'd want to get rid of any allergies anyway), try the healthy diet (no orange dies or highly processed foods), and read the "Love & Logic" books on discipline. Wonderful stories inside.
Good luck....

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T.R.

answers from Portland on

has your child had a blood test for lead poisoning?
ADD/ ADHD behavior is often misdiagnosed and actually lead poisoning in child this young

mom of 3 weeks/ 3 year/ 6 year/ 12 year old boys

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E.S.

answers from Portland on

You may want to focus on something other than discipline at this time. Your son is probably not making a choice to throw horrific fits. All 2 year olds throw fits, but to do so at the level you mention is very tiring for children and they rarely would choose to go through that. Not feeling pain during the fit and continuing for 2-6 hours is not typical, but does not sound like simple ADHD.

Everyone has a different body system that requires different levels of input throughout the day. Your son may require much more input than other children, or may actually be overstimulated by the input he is receiving. I recommend that you contact an occupational therapist right away. Talk to them about your son, his day, his responses to different situations/sensations (noise, food, wrestling, swinging, discipline, etc.) and ask about sensory integration/sensory processing.

Also, if you are going to physicians who mention ADHD, it is important to ask what they recommend. Two years old is too early to medicate for ADHD. Have they mentioned a developmental pediatrician? What about early intervention?

You didn't mention his communication, but that is something else to consider. Can he make his thoughts and needs clear through words? He should be able to at this age. If he is having trouble communicating, he may be getting VERY frustrated, which would only make behavior seem worse.

Good luck with all of this. It sounds like you have a wonderful family,

E.

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J.M.

answers from Seattle on

I've never heard of an ADD or ADHD diagnosis being made so young. And I've also read quite a bit of literature that says WAY too many doctors are over-diagnosing this condition. If any doctor tried to tell me that either of my two year old boys had ADHD I'd find a new doctor.

Some two year olds are a major handful. (They don't call it "the terrible twos" for nothing, right!!!?) Two of my three boys were big handfuls, but I never let it get to me when we were in public. I refused to allow their bad behavior humiliate me into doing anything to encourage repeat performances. For example, when we were in the grocery store my son start screeching like a banshee because I wouldn't buy him something he wanted. I completely ignored the screaming and calmly continued on with my shopping. I didn't bribe my son. I didn't scoop him out of the shopping cart and rush from the store. I didn't try to coax him into a better mood. I just went on about my shopping - and actually he worked better than a police siren! Everyone got out of my way, and other customers were kind enough to let me cut in front of them in line. I got my groceries. The rest of the shoppers got to feel very grateful that THEY didn't have a two year old! And my son learned that he does not get rewarded for bad behavior.

(That's not to say he's been angelic every time we've gone out since then, but it's never been that bad again! They are unbelievably smart. If they don't get rewarded for bad behavior, they don't have the incentive to repeat it.)

So. MY advice is to hold your head up and try not to be embarrassed. Every single Mama has been in your situation and knows what it feels like. You are NOT a bad mother because your two year old pitches a hissy fit! Just be firm. Be consistent. Make sure he's eating healthy foods at regular intervals (perhaps limiting the junk could help with his behavior). Find a new doctor, because anyone who starts throwing around ADHD diagnoses at this stage is a BIG red flag. And hang in there! This too SHALL pass, I promise!

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B.P.

answers from Seattle on

I know he may be too young, but with those children you need to try to be more patient to explain what is wrong with what he is doing and why. Then show him the correct way to respond and give praises for him going about it right. Tell him that screaming really hurts your ears, "is he wanting to hurt you?" If you start now know that he may have a problem with ADHD it may become more natural for you later when he starts school and has to deal with other kids. Also, do what the other mom says. RUN HIM OUT TILL HE CAN SETTLE DOWN.
p.s. If you want to stop the screaming, get a squirt bottle and mist him in the face. Doesn't hurt a thing, but makes him stop. It worked for my kids and it works for my dogs barking.

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K.R.

answers from Bellingham on

My ten- year old has ADHD. He was always a handful, terrible temper outbursts. They upset me so much because he seemed SO out of control. I feel for you when you say you get embarrassed by his behavior. It feels terrible to not be able to do many of the things that other families seem to do, like go out to eat. Some children need VERY structured homes. Always be consistent. Don't make empty threats. Lots of encouragement and catch him being good. There are TONS of books on this subject. Stop worrying about being judged, though. It's a waste of time and will just add to your already stressful situation.

I am very suspicious of any Dr. that thinks a child this young has ADHD. Some kids are just really high energy and intense, but usually the ADHD diagnosis doesn't show up until 5 or 6 when they really start to stand out from their peers.

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

Wow, what a spirited little guy! My heart goes out to you. I don't know if my favorite parenting author would be very applicable with a child with ADHD, but he might. His name is John Rosemond, his website is www.rosemond.com, and he has helped us a ton with our wild and crazy boys. The book "Making the Terrible Twos Terrific" gives an explanation for a lot of the behavior of two-year-olds - and how to reign in those behaviors, and has tons of questions posed by real parents, that he answers. He does approve of a well-deserved spanking, and locking the child in his room for outrageous behavior, so maybe he would be a good fit for you. I can't recommend him enough. He is not into the new-age psychobabble, but teaches how to lead so that children will follow. His website includes his weekly newspaper column. I buy his books cheap off amazon. He is a valuable tool/ally/supporter. Good luck!

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S.H.

answers from Portland on

Whatever the age and especially with the young who don't know how to communicate well or limit their expression based on social norms, any number of internal irritations can cause external irritation and difficulty.

In the Naturopathic treatment of ADHD, or children who act in a way that cannot be controlled, whatever you like to call it, the first thing to address is their diet. Are they eating something that is causing them discomfort? This doesn't have to be high fructose corn syrup or food coloring which are the usual culprits but could even be simple tomatoes or carrots. I have seen Jell-o turn an angel into a demon very reliably.

Beyond exploring foods, I also make use of craniosacral therapy with children. This is a subtle, hands-on tool to calm the nervous system and address any structural challenges of the body.

Using a diagnostic term like ADHD and the subsequent drugs that are associated, or the behavioral modification techniques without correcting the underlying imbalance can cause ongoing struggle. However, working on boundaries and setting strong, positive examples is always great!

There are so many tools that can assist and correct whatever the cause is of your childs difficulty so that the peaceful outings are a normal routine for your family for now and into his many years to come!

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A.O.

answers from Portland on

Hi,

My oldest son, now 8, has ADHD/Aspergers and we haven't ever put him on medication. He used to have huge tantrums somewhat like what you described that you son has now. I had to tie him to my body when we went to the grocery store, etc. so that he wouldn't run away like a madman down the aisles - so I feel that I can relate! What helped us was something called the Feingold diet. The web-site is www.feingold.org. With this diet, you simply eliminate everything artificial from food and body products along with salicylates which occur naturally in some fruits and vegetables. If you become a member (which is like $50 for a year) they send you a food guide which lists brand specific foods that you can buy without harmful additives in them, so it's easy to stay on the diet. Anyhow, my son is a different boy than what he was several years ago, so I highly recommend that you look into this option. Good luck to you!

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K.G.

answers from Seattle on

I am not a big fan of ADD/ADHD but of the fact that kids have energy and at different levels. I have 2 kids myself and have had friends make comments that they have ADHD because they love to run around when they play outside, what are you supposed to do outside? Sit quietly on the grass?
Anyway the first thing I would check is diet to make sure they are getting the right foods without all the prepackaged preservatives, I am in the process of changing my family's diet to healthier. Mac and cheese and lunchables are easy but are not good for feeding brains and bodies. The other 2 things kind of go hand in hand, one is make sure your day is a routine and basically the same one daily, kids need a schedule that is why they behave better in school or daycare then at home sometimes. The second part to that is make sure the schedule is broken down into small blocks of time. Kids tend to behave better for several shorter periods broken up by being able to play outside or roughhouse and then coming back to a quieter task again, kind of like recess at school. As he adjusts to that and knows he can be loud and crazy I bet he behaves better and you can increase the quieter task time limits. I wish you good luck with your son, please let us know how it works out.

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W.L.

answers from Seattle on

Hi I.. I have two suggestions for things to at least look into, if you haven't already.

The first involves possible food allergies/sensitivities. They're unfortunately becoming more and more common, and though doctors still know so little about them, they are starting to come out with studies that have linked many chemical imbalances, including ADHD, to food or other sensitivities. You can have a blood (finger prick) or skin test done. (I personally suggest the blood test as I believe it to be less intrusive than the skin test, but that's your personal decision.)

The second is getting your child into a good activity, like a martial art. My son is in karate and they really work on focus and good ways to use your body. It might seem a little scary to think of him learning moves that may seem like they could be used negatively, but karate (and most other marital arts) really press using the moves in a positive manner.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you and your fiance the best of luck in finding the right answer for you. You seem like the kind of parents that will keep searching until you find it.

W.

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A.L.

answers from Seattle on

Hi I.,

You might want to really check his diet. My brother was ADHD and instead of putting him on medication they started eliminating things such as sugar, wheat, ect and found a huge difference in his personality. He finally grew out of it around age 17. There are tons of websites on diet and ADD/ADHD. Hope this helps..

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S.C.

answers from Spokane on

My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in Kindergarten. When I think back to when he was two, he had behaviors similiar to your son. At the time, we just thought it was "terrible two's" since he was our first child. Anyhow, I think the most important thing is for you to stay CALM! This is hard to do sometimes, but it helps to keep things from escalating. If we were at home and my son was throwing a fit, I would leave the room and try not to give him attention for it (keep floors and things as clear as possible to help prevent injury and for less things to throw). Also, consistent time outs can be helpful to correct behaviors (probably would not work with an all-out fit). Another important thing to remember is to only SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND FOLLOW UP. This is important especially as he gets older. For example if you say that you will take away a toy if he throws it. Make sure if he does throw it, that you take it away. I always put things up at the top of a closet. You have to have clear expectations, rules, and be consistent. That way, he will know what to expect and know that you will do what you say. (I've heard some parents threaten things like not going to a birthday party knowing full well they still intend on going to the party). Anyhow, I could go on all day. I hope some of this helps! Good luck! S.

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B.S.

answers from Eugene on

The best way I know how to handle ADHD is to get the child actively involved in physical activities. I teach swim lessons, and it's amazing how much the water can wear little ones out, but it makes them take better naps. My sister has had 6 ADHD kids and 4 of them have out grown it, so hang in there. She found that by laying off of any sugar and/or white flour (like white bread) or white rice, they're easier to handle.

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A.H.

answers from Eugene on

Personally it sounds as though your baby boy is going thru the terrible 2's for starters.... I have been told by several doctors that 2ish is too young to tell if they are ADHD or ADD since it runs in my family....my nephews werent diagnosed until they were around 8 or so, i was also told by my family doc that ADHD kids cant sit still,and are always hyper.... i had to have my son tested and he is ADD meaning he cant concentrate in school and is easily distracted....
Good luck

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A.W.

answers from Seattle on

I.,

I quickly scanned the responses & didn't see my suggestion so hopefully I'm not repeating anyone.

I am a Professional Organizer that specializes in children & recently was hired to work with an 8 y/o boy that had been medically diagnosed with ADHD. Since I needed resources to understand what this would mean to our progress with successful systems I began researching.

I was most impressed with the ADDitude magazine website www.additudemag.com (lots of resources for everyone involved) as well as the ADD association site www.add.org

I wish you the best of luck & encourage you to stay focused on what 'feels' right for your family. Ignore those who are unable to be supportive & thank those who offer a hand of hope.

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L.O.

answers from Seattle on

I would check out some of the Love and Logic books, tapes, etc. I love the book, Love and Logic: Magic for the Early Years. They also have books about dealing with children with ADHD. Check out the website. www.loveandlogic.com

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J.S.

answers from Seattle on

Does he eat anything with artificial color or flavor? Does he act up after eatting them?

My brother (now almost 40 years) would get crazy from red and yellow food coloring. My mom found that he was the worst after orange Hubba Bubba gum. His eyes would start to gloss over about 20 minutes after he started to chew it. But anything with artificial flavors and colors was bad for him, but red and yellow were the worst. My mom had to figure out this on her own, they didn't have or know about ADHD back then.

Are his tantrums and outburst at certain times of day? Or activities, too much activity or lack of activities? If you can pin point a posible cause, then you can eliminate, reduce or change it to see if there is a change in behavior. And then discipline or redirection has a better chance of working.

My 2 1/2 year old acts up when she is tired, bored or sleepy and I am not responding to her needs fast enough. I work from home too, and get involved in work, and all of a sudden she is bouncing off the walls and getting into everything, it is time for her to eat, snuggle and have a nap, or just some mommy time.

Good luck! I hope that you can find an external and controlable cause.

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N.W.

answers from Seattle on

Welcome to my life.I too had a son who was ADHD. The first thing I did was have him get allergy tests. We found that he was allergic to milk,soy,food coloring and preservatives. I talked to several doctors as I refused to put him on meds. They said no sugar, beef only once a week and to start on a very minimal and basic diet then after a week if that did not bother him to add one new thing each week. With his allergies and soy being in so many things I made many things like mayo(very easy) from scratch. It was a pain at first to learn a new way of cooking and finding places that had rice bread but I was determined. I learned to cook with honey so he had cookies. The natural health store had candy made with honey and candy canes at Christmas. Haloween was a pain but he was young so he went trick or treating with his brother and sister and when he came home we had a bag with a lot more things in it to trade. We all changed our diets and I had a different little boy with in a month. He never felt awkward as we all ate the same cookies. I usually spent one day cooking and freezing so we were stalked up.

His temper tantrums were also bad and we were lucky to have a safe room( no sharp objects) he could go to with a mattress on the floor.We called it our time out room for all of the kids. When he calmed down we would talk about what had happened. I think that he understood more when he was older. I would explain that it was his responsibility to take care of what he would eat and how he acted.

I was also ADHD so we had long talks about what he was feeling when he ate bad things and what he needed to do. His wonderful aunt would come visit and not believing in ADHD would bring him sugar. He would flip out and she would say what a brat he was. I would smile excuse us and put him in a warm bath then put him in our bed,rub his back and talk to him in a very calming voice while feeding him rice crackers to absorb the sugar. he would calm down and pass out for awhile.

The one main thing we did was that he loved sports so we signed him up for activities year around. All three kids played different sports so they kept us running but I would not have had it any other way. When they were older they all skied during the winter.

I found diet,and activities were the best thing to do. Yes we also had quiet time as he loved to invent so we had a jar full of broken things and he would spend a lot of time putting things together.

My son may have been a hand full but he has a big heart and was a treasure to have

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A.S.

answers from Portland on

Sometimes I am utterly amazed at the comments that appear on this site. Other times I am impressed (though not in this case) which is what keeps me coming back. Three things:

1) Two years old is way to young for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD. If that is a diagnosis you want to consider, please have a comprehensive psychological evaluation conducted - check out CDRC up at Oregon Health and Science University.

2) It's so very sad some of us are choosing to spray our children in the face for "misbehaving".

3) Spanking? Well I suppose to each his own. At least this poster had the good advice to wear him out. You might also think of checking out the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

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R.M.

answers from Seattle on

I.,
I truly understand how you feel. I will say right now that I'm not a doctor (obviously) and I don't know your son and therefore have not seen his fits (again Obviously). If they are anything like my 2 year old's used to be, though I do get where you're coming from. My understanding is that a diagnoses of ADHD is in most cases not accurate in kids less than 5 years. I'm not saying they are all wrong or anything, it's just harder to diagnose. The reason for this seems to be that children younger than that tend to be 1- extremely active anyway and 2- normally don't have long attention spans. I also have a "spirited" child, in fact add throwing her high chair and anything else she can get her hands on into the mix and you're pretty much describing her about 8 months ago (and yes she's always been very strong). I'm just going to tell you what worked for me, take it or leave it. First I don't spank. Not saying your wrong or right or anything like that or that you love your kids any less, I just don't do it. I've noticed that parents typically spank if the child is doing something harmful to themself or others or if they've asked the child several times to do or not do something and the kid isn't listening. If your son is doing something harmful to himself or others and he gets spanked for it and that causes him to throw a tantrum hurting himself he might just be interpreting this punishment in a way your not intending. If, however its more of the "asked the child several times to do or not do something and the kid isn't listening" type, then that seems to be more of a frustration thing. He sees that you're frustrated, and (at least for me) rightfully so, by asking him the same thing over and over until he gets a swat on the butt. He then may sometimes get frustrated with himself because he can't for whatever reason do what he wants so he throws a tantrum hurting himself. I'm not saying that you're teaching him to beat himself up as he's doing, but kids process things so differently that we indend them to, that it might just be a correlation for him. Also, I noticed my daughter's outbreaks weren't nearly as often if we went on play dates. I started with her and one other child who was similar to her but a year older. Now I feel comfortable enough to have her around a lot of other kids with out getting violent. Not only did she get the energy out of her but she also learned boundries and got socialized, which actually helped a lot. I also had to curb the "wrestling around" stuff I did with my older daughter a bit (at least around the baby) because it would get her going on the violent streak. I read a book while I was going through this that talked about the "flight or fight" response in kids. Once children get their adrenaline going, whether from wrestling around, video games, or anything else, it takes them a few hours to get it out of their system. While it's in their system they are often more agressive in general. So maybe if you notice that it happens more after just wrestling around with another sibling or something, maybe he just has a bunch of adrenaline in his system and hasn't learned how to cope with it yet. I think that's pretty much all I did. I'm not saying I now have a perfect little angel or anything, but at least now my daughter isn't throwing things and biting herself and whatnot when she does have a tantrum.

Also, about other parents judging you. They might be they might not, there's no way to tell. My thing has always been, who cares? You know you're doing your best and your stress comes through to him as well. From the other side (being someone accused of judging a single mom in the grocery store) sometimes we're not judging, we're commiserating.

If you would like, the homeschool group I belong to has a park day every week. This week it's at 5 Mile Lake in Federal Way, the three of us who always show up to everything all have at least one kid who is like this so you will be welcomed. It's tomorrow (Aug. 8th) from 1:30-3:30 or when you get tired of us.

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K.G.

answers from Seattle on

Tons of great advice....My son has ADHD is 7 and on meds. You may not be there yet to consider them but please keep an open mind. Self-esteem issues add to the mix especially when they start school. Getting labeled the "bad kid" is not helpful to anyone. There is no harm in trying it all but keep your pediatrician in the loop and consider meds in future for his overall well being and mental health.

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M.M.

answers from Portland on

Hi I.,

I just wanted to say that my heart went out to you when I read your post.

My daughter doesn't have ADHD, but a friend of mine's daughter does. In fact, I'm the only one left who will babysit her daughter for any length of time.

And I'll only do that if I can take the two children to the park, since my friend's daughter (who is now 5) has so much energy, she gets out of control indoors and frightens not only my 2.5 year old, but me as well!

I don't have any easy answers for you, other than to say not everyone out there is judging you and your son when you go out.

When my daughter was about 10 months old, I took her to the library. She and some other children were all quietly playing, when a mom came in with her 5-6 year old son.

Within minutes, he was running around, pushing all the chairs down, grabbing toys and books out of other children's hands - he even pushed the chair my daughter was holding onto right out from under her. She toppled down and I picked her up quickly because I could tell the boy's behavior was unpredictable.

His poor mom was just frantic, trying to get control of him.

She left as soon as she could get her hands on him. I could tell she was mortified and I could also tell her son probably had ADHD or something that was causing him to be out of control - I tried to approach her to give her some words of sympathy, but there was so much commotion and she was so afraid to make eye contact with anyone, I was never able to.

I just mention this because I've thought about her a lot - from her perspective, she probably thought we were all judging her.

But the truth was very different - I can honestly say that NO one talked poorly about her or her son after she left. At the most, we kind of exchanged glances, like, "wow! he's a handful." but that was it. It was pretty clear to all of us that his behavior was not due to poor parenting, but rather to something else, like ADHD.

I'm not saying there aren't judgmental people out there - there are - but I think there are a lot more sympathetic people out there than you may realize. They just might not have the chance to tell you.

Best of luck to you and your family. M.

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M.F.

answers from Seattle on

I would strongly urge you to check into Reliv nutrition for your son. It has helped so many children avoid and often get off the drugs for conditions like ADHD as their bodies get the excellent nourishment! We are distributors because we are convinced it is the best nutritional supplements money can buy and we see the need for it out their as huge! We have all seen results in our family and we love helping others with it. I just spoke with someone we shared it with today who has an adopted daughter with anger oppositional issues and she was expressing the big difference they have seen with reliv and how running out validated that! The mom also had results with dyslexia and depression and back issues! If you want to learn more you can email us or another Reliv distributor. (I saw one of your other responses was sharing Reliv)

[email protected]____.com

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C.C.

answers from Portland on

2 years old is not too young to identify ADHD in a case with such obvious issues as your son has. Early identification and intervention is especially beneficial to giving your son the best chance of happiness, as well as for your whole family. I would not spank him, it is not recommended by any childhood development experts anymore, and with a child with violence issues already showing, it will make things worse. My friend has a child with serious ADHD such as your son's, which later turned violent. He was recently diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. He is now able to get treatment that is bringing sanity to everyone, and allowing him to grow into a happy healthy boy. The treatment they are using is Biofeedback, which is does not involve medication, but as support for the practice, they have a strict lifestyle with a regular schedule, strict diet with high protein at every meal, no TV, and lots of outdoor time, and certain types of play that give him a sense of calm.

I really encourage you to get your son professional treatment. It is a lot of work, but a lot less agonizing, and will help your son for the rest of his life. Best wishes.

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K.R.

answers from Portland on

look into Sensory Integration Disorder

from everything I have read, it is actually normal (NOT a 'disorder') for little boys; society asks them to mentally process things they really just are literally physically (in their brains) not capable of, and then they are called 'problems'

the basic idea is that senory input (sometimes as specific as a certain wavelength of sound) goes in and then doesn't have a proper neural path to somewhere that can process it (in some cases because the processing center isn't even really ready), so the kid freaks out/locks up/gets into some sort of repetitive pattern, to cope.

good luck; God bless :).

additional edit: this can also be broad ... my son couldn't--literally--hear verbal input if he was stressed (like, I don't know, if I was upset and trying to get him to listen--you know, convenient times). The sounds hit his ear, and then didn't make it to the very-immature language processing areas (he was 2 when I figured this out). I'm not even sure the sounds hit the sound-processing center, until I got VERY LOUD INDEED. Which I guess overrode whatever the other inputs were he _was_ receiving.

so this can be very complex. You will need to watch carefully to see what he CAN receive from you, and build his abilities in the other areas by helping him work safely from the areas he CAN work in. (Trying to learn something like "how to behave well' when your body is freaking out and you don't feel safe even in your own mind because it's not helping you, is probably not really feasible. I know I had some integration issues I hit as an adult, and it freaked me out. Nothing harder. Being held "safe" while I did the work would have helped--instead I was rejected and told i was 'just messed up.' Which, to give that person credit, is the lesson society teaches us to project onto children and adults with these actually-solvable, but frightening to work through, issues.)

last edit: he's all better now (5-1/2), and I'm all better now.

We paid a mint to put him through kindergarten in a Waldorf school, which deliberately helps with integration (admitting the reality that most kids have a lot of integration to do before they start gradeschool)--and one of his two teachers had additional specialist certification in sensory integration, so she totally understood as soon as I explained his specific issues. having him in a social environment was (!) a challenge, and I am SO glad he had teachers who could make it actually work.

I figured out in DECEMBER that he hadn't really noticed the names of any classmates besides "my friend" (singular) and "the meanest one." I made up a sing-song with all their names, and two weeks later he was suddenly much more functional socially. It's things like that. Can you imagine not realizing people had names? what a handicap!

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