Child Possibly Diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Updated on June 21, 2008
B.D. asks from Sequim, WA
41 answers

I have have been having some difficulty with my son's behavior. This behavior is way beyond the norm...and he's only 5. This problem with his behavior has been occurring since he was two. I tried for the past few years to pass it off simply as being a normal thing for his age. I even took upon myself to do what I could to better who I am to help him.
The behavior is now getting worse. The back talk is non stop, with him always trying to get the last word. When he throws his tantrums now, they aren't the usual. It's as though he flipped a switch. He becomes very violent, screams horrible things at anyone who is within earshot. This last physical episode was in the doctor's office. I said calmly that he needn't play with the rolling chair. Next thing I know, he's trying to tear apart the doctor's office. I told him it would be best if he was in a short time out. He flipped out on me and began attacking me. (The only way to control this, even after talking to his doctor and doing some research, is to hold him.) So I put him in a hug position and let him know I loved him and would let go as soon as he calmed down. I usually brace myself so he can't headbutt or bite me. I miscalculated and he ended up headbutted me so hard in the mouth that I had a short black out period and a fat lip to boot. I was so appalled by his behavior, that I quietly placed him in the first available corner and ignored him until the doctor arrived.
Anyway, I presented the situation to the doctor. (We were initially there for just a 5 yr checkup.) She backed up what I believed this whole time...that he might have Oppositional Defiant Disorder. What I want to know is if anyone else has had this problem with their child and how did you manage to deal with the issue? Did you medicate your child? Do counseling? Or both? Any suggestions would be helpful. I did recently enroll him into counseling though. :D

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So What Happened?

I just want to thank everyone for your wonderful responses. Thank you so very, very much. All the support was greatly appreciated. :D We went to his first counseling meeting and the therapist had told me that he has something called Sensory Integration Disorder. Given every time he gets overstimulated, he becomes violent. It was more a reflex, than something he intended to do. Which was why at first, everyone assumed it might be Oppositional Disorder or ADHD. I'm just thankful that it wasn't something more severe. I hope and pray that with lots of consistency, love, patience, and education...my son and I will be able to work through this together. Thank you all again for your help and support! :D

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

I read the book "Raising a Nonviolent Child" by John Rosemond, and he's known of many successes with different diagnoses by using his strategies. It's a very good read, and not just for 'violent' children. I read it regarding my at-the-time 3-year-old.

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

I have a child very much like that. It started with being kicked out of daycare at one. Although he wasn't being mean aggressive he just liked to bite just to bite. After I had my daughter it progressed. He is in second grade now and it has gotten better. He has been on adhd medication for two years now and for the last year he has also been diagnosed with autism and has been in a special class for reading and math and has progressed very well. He doesn't take change well and I have to really get him ready for something that is going to change. When he does something naughty he will usually lose a privilage or I will give him a couple of chances (depending on the offence). We also try working toward things like if we has 5 good mornings in a row we will go see prince caspian. We haven't seen it yet, but we have come close several times. Working toward something seems to really help his behavior.

I hope this helped. If you ever want to talk then send me a message.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

B., My daughter had the possibly ODD diagnosis at 7 as well as post traumatic stress disorger. `As an adult the pschiatrist diagnosed her behavior as bi-polar. She had a very rough life the first 6 years of her life. I adopted her.

My 5 yo grandson is having behaviorl issues. Possible ODD and broad spectrum autistic disorders. He has difficulty talking and been in an early education program thru the Multnomah County Education Service District.

That program places kids into Headstart where they also get one on one services. He had speech therapy. However, it acted out much in the same way you described your son's behaviour.

They moved him to a therapeutic preschool at age 4. And his behavior has improved tremendously. And I can understand his speech some of the time. He has difficulties prounouncing certain consonuts and slurrs all sounds together. But he is making an effort to talk. He's a cheerful rowdy little boy who has very little patience when it comes to getting what he wants.

Before attending the therapeutic preschool his only method of handling anger was to hit, kick, bite. I did use the therapeutic hold with him which would reduce him to tears eventually and then he'd stop the physical behavior. He does run away from me, usually to his room. When he stops crying he comes back out and gives me a hug before going about playing.

The therapeutic hug is a technique I suggest you learn. His psychiatrist may be able to teach you. I'll briefly describe it for you. Pull him into your lap, wrap your feet, locking at the ankles around his legs. Before head butting begins grab his left hand with your right and vice versa with the other hand and hold him tight. I figured this next step for myself when head butting and biting became a part of it. I haven't done this very many times and was reacting to what was happening at the time. Here is what I remember. I bring his crossed arms up to hold his head against my chest. Or I might let go of his hands and hold his head against my chest. He's pretty well pinned down. He can flail with his arms but so far hasn't figured out he could hit my legs. He's been focused on getting loose by squirming and pulling away.

I've worked on not expressing any of my emotions. MY voice is firm. I tell him I'm protecting both of so that we won't get hurt. I don't say I love you because this anger has noting to do with love. It's anger and he's focused on anger. He's forgotten by now what he really wants which is whatever he can't have. Often after it's all over he doesn't remember what started the temper tantrum.

What may be confusing is that with most temper tantrums it's best to ignore them. What's different with using this hold, is that he's hurting himself or most often hurting someone else. In the car he'll throw whatever is handy, usually crayons. Because he used a marker, in anger, draw on my car's ceiling there are no more markers in my car.

Ssometimes, if we see that he's getting wound up, we tell him to go to his room. 3/4ths of the time this works. His mother has been having both kids go to their room whenever their behaviour is unacceptable. She tells them that they can come back out when they're ready to they're sorry. Sometimes my grandson continues to play and has to be reminded that he can come out if he wants. Sometimes he still continues to play. When they come back out she or I listen to the apology or direct him to the person who needs the apoloy, then give him a big hug and tell him we're proud of him.

I think my grandson gets a sensory overload and needs that quiet time in his room. I've tried taking him into his room to play and that usually starts heartbroken crying. He is crying a whole lot more and does less hitting, kicking biting.

I've observed an odd, to me anyway, way of interacting with his mother and I when we won't give him what he wants or tell him not now, after dinner sort of statements. He plops on his bottom on the floor and cries and cries, tears running down his cheeks. When his mother or I say stop crying he immediately does. My philosophy is to let children exprss their emotions anyway that they can as long as they're not hurting anyone or property. I've viewed crying as a good way of letting out anger. At first I didn't tell him to stop. When I tried to sympathize, saying such things as I know you really wanted that toy, he'd try to hit me. I decided to try the stop crying now and noticed that he quickly stopped, got up and went back to playing without seemingly remembering why he was crying. It's begun to feel like a manipulative cry. He never gets what he wants by crying. Usually he doesn't want to be held afterwards tho sometimes he does.

His sister who is nearly 8 has begun the very angry acting out. As she hits me she tells me why she's angry and freqently the source has nothing to do with me. I understand why she's angry and in her situation I'd be angry too. I'm looking for a play therapist for her.

However this is a bit unnerving for me because this is what her mother did at that age. I've discovered that frequently I can turn the hitting into play fighting during which no one actually makes contact and we both end up laughing.

It has been suggested by the school that she has ADD or ADHD. Because her behaviour is different at my house I suspect her behaviour else where may be caused by anxiety. She has begun telling me that she's afraid. some of the time she doesn't know why.

This is way too long. I wanted to share my experiences with this sort of behavior. As to medication my daughter didn't seem to benefit from mediation. She was only started on meds when she was in high school and I'm not sure that she complied with the directions.

My daughter has taken meds as an adult and they have helped. She has gone from being a rebellious teen to a successful single mother. She has had her current responsible administrative job for 3 years.

I think that my daughter would've stopped her hitting tantrums much earlier if I had known how to treat her and been more conficent. I was taught some techniques but I was too emotionally involved to develop good skills. It's easier for me now with my grandchildren.

The clue to making discipline work is to remain calm even when we're angry ourselves. With a child who is acting out in dangerous ways we don't have the time to pull back and regain our composure.

I'm glad that you're getting started in therapy. I believe therapy is absolutely necessary when our children act this way.

I noticed that you're an in home care provider. Is it possible that underlying your son't anger is that he's jealous of the other children? My very verbal granddaughter says she hates having a little brother. At times they play together well. They wrestle alot which I think is a way of working off their anger. My granddaughter has difficulty playing with her brother because he's not able to play imaginary games with her. She has Littles Pet Shop toys and tells stories as she moves them around. Her brother wants to play too but he can't carry on a dialogue and is awkard knocking over the "set" she has set up.

Someone suggest taking your son out of the area when he's throwing a temper tantrum. This is usually impossible with these kids. If my grandson is hitting me I grab him and hold on as best as I can until he calms down. I do have a lot of bruises on my shins. If he's cranky before I go in to the store we don't go into the store. I know that if he's tired and/or hungry he will become hostile, call me names, hit,kick and bite. At those times I don't go anywhere with him. I do offer to rock him, watch a video with him, hold him on my lap. Sometimes he wants that and sometimes he doesn't. Even when he does come sit on my lap he stays only a short period of time. My granddaughter loves to be held and will stay with me for an hour or more.

If you have any more questions just send me a message.

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J.L.

answers from Portland on

Hi B.,
I never read these e-mails, but did today for some reason. I have twin boys who have been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. It is a newly understood problem, and many children who have OPD also have SPD. Defiance is the number one red flag for sensory problems that can't be treated behaviorally. There are some great books: The Sensory Sensitive Child; and The Out of Sync Child. We have been seeing an Occupational Therapist for a year now and it has helped us so much. What generally happens with kids with these problems is they get in an environment that is overwhelming to them in some sensory way (perhaps there was something in the doctor's office,) and they act out because they cannot manage the sensations. They often have trouble regulating their emotions (thus the rage and tantrums.) The books are filled with stories like yours. It's tough when a child is treated for OPD behaviorally when the problem may need to be managed in a different way.
I hope you will look into the books, I think they may help you. I wish you all the best.
-J. L

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J.B.

answers from Portland on

From the things I've read, medicating is not a solution...and if you can get him to take it now but then he becomes defiant about taking it later you'll have the same problem just in a older, bigger and stronger child. He needs "coaching" from you (and a male role model would help too if you have one) to learn to control his outbursts.

My son is no where near ODD, but for a while I was thinking strong-willed. Then I bought The Strong-willed Child by Dobson and found that my son is nowhere near the worst case scenarios in that book...even the not so worst. But I think you might find comfort and good advice in that book. The children in that book are definately what DR's are now calling ODD. Other books that would be a great companions for you is The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian and Shepherding a Child's heart. It's about addressing the battle inside the child, not just the outside. You may also try allergy testing...eliminating wheat for my cousin was so key...it didn't happen till he was an adult with a lot of messes behind him, but he is so much better now.

My nephew is somewhere in this spectrum of "behavioral disorders" and I've seen him pitch some mother fits that took my brother and his wife both to manage. He is 12 now and has come so far with consistent, exhausting parenting. I'm in awe of my brother and his wife...and of you.

You also need a support system for you...with someone who understands your son and that you can trust to leave him with so you can get some much needed breaks.

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M.D.

answers from Seattle on

B.,
My son is very much like this. He is now 5 and heading to All Day Integrated Kindergarten in the fall. OT and school have helped him greatly. The biggest impact on his tantrums has been the removal of ALL gluten. If he gets even one meal of it, his behavior gets awful, requiring the hold you described. The hard part is that the effect is delayed about 36 hours. I was able to get a blood test for glutens through a local naturopath. IT was much easier to tell him that the blood test told us that gluten is bad for your body, vs let's just try and see what happens if we take this away. He will still tell us that it's not the gluten but the people that make him mad. Well, my response is that the people may make him mad, but the gluten prevents him from dealing w/it in an acceptable manner. I plan on getting another blood test to see what other foods are also culprits. I hear a lot about the red food dye, but he's not getting much of that.
OT diagnosed him w/ Sensory Processing Disorder. Addressing that helped tremendously.
Be careful about the ODD diagnosis. It may seem like a great answer, describing all you are seeing, but it is only a collection of symptoms, no testing to verify it and no treatment. I too was ready to jump to that ODD diagnosis. I am much happier knowing that w/diet and sensory activities I can normalize his behaviors and train him to do likewise. with ODD I'd have a rational for the behvior but no hope of it ever changing.
If you want to talk further please let me know. I am right here w/you!!!
M.

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R.S.

answers from Portland on

It's hard enough dealing with tantrums when it's at your home, but in public is even harder.

When my son had tantrums and we were at home I tried putting him in his room (sometimes with me in the room or right outside the room)and tried not to engage him. My son is and has always been very verbal and if I didn't react or went about my business ignoring him it took the fuse out of it. He could spiral deeper in the tantrum if I engaged him. I also sometimes quietly went into the kitchen and made him something to eat and handed it to him sometimes and that settled him down too. My son dealt better if you gave him a safe space to be in. If he is back talking you all the time I'd let him know you are not going to take rude behavior ahead of the time and tell him he will be told once that what he is saying is rude and then the next time will quietly be put in his room and you won't be able to "hear" him until he stops and settles down.

Being in the doctor's office, waiting for the doctor is hard because you are in a captive situation, that sounds terribly hard. You couldn't leave him unattended.
When I've been in a public situation when my son was younger and I saw him losing it I'd try to cut off the downward spiral by quickly leaving with him but not reacting or responding to him.
I personally wouldn't medicate a 5 year old for this behavior.
A councilor that could give him tools to work with on his anger and frustration. I would just try to keep him safe but not hurt other people, that's why his room is the ideal spot for him at home and in public I think holding him like you did is the only solution for the moment, but don't engage him, sometimes a car, with him strapped in and you right outside might have to work. The key is trying to stop or divert it early.I know it's hard, hang in there.
My son is now 17 1/2 and has been recently diagnosed with bipolar. We are working on medication for him. Since he was a little boy his tantrums have gotten less and he's learned through time how to deal and cope with controlling them.

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A.O.

answers from Portland on

My son just turned 6 and he has had similar issues since he was a little guy. He's been seeing a naturopath for several years now and that has helped things tremendously, but recently things have gotten worse. He struggles not only with anger issues, but also with severe depression and suicidal words. He's been in counseling and that has helped. A couple of months ago, we finally decided that it would be best to take him to see a psychiatrist and we put him on a very low dosage of medication. It was such a very hard decision for us, but really felt that after 4 years of treating things naturally, we had to try the meds - mainly because of the suicide stuff though. He's diagnosed as probable ODD and Bipolar...but everything is so controversial and we don't like labels either! Anyhow, feel free to e-mail me if you'd like to talk further.

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G.M.

answers from Seattle on

Hi B.,

First off let me start by saying I'm so sorry for you and your son's situation. It sounds really tough. I'm pretty active in the disability community (both my kids have disabilities and one has Asperger's which has some pretty "interesting" behaviors) and I can reassure you that yes, ODD is an authentic dx.

Now that you've got your ped. on board (personally I think it's great that his violent episode happened right there in her office so she and her staff could see how you handled it), get a referral for a GOOD (not the average) child pysch. See if you can get in to see a neuro pysch and a developmental pediatrician (in Tacoma there's a doc named Glenn Tripp who works out of Mary Bridge I've heard good things about) and don't stop until you have a firm dx.

During all this: GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. Your child is in a very bad place and chances are you DIDN'T put him there. However, I believe strongly that every behavior can be remediated and that there are things you can start doing with him now. There's a great book called "The Explosive Child". Many of my friends who have children on the autism spectrum have read it and said it's great (kids w/ autism are famous for HUGE meltdowns and my aspie is rather gifted in picking a fight over pretty much anything).

After giving yourself a break....get yourself some support!! Surround yourself with positive people who don't blame you for everything. Even if everything IS your fault (which it's not), you need strong support in your corner to help guide you through.

Hang in there and don't hesitate to write back to me if I can be of any help to you.....

All the best...G.

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K.R.

answers from Bellingham on

I feel for you. My own son, who is now 10, has always been a challenge. I had read so many parenting books by the time he got into school, my head was spinning.
I can tell you, that one thing I learned was the longer you let it continue, the worse it gets. Many children have empathy and want to please their parents, but not my 10 year old. EVERYTHING became a challenge or a battle of the wills. I thought he wanted and needed more choices or control so I let him make decisions, but it backfired on me.
GET TOUGH. These kids need discipline. No, I am not an advocate of physical punishment. I am saying DO NOT TOLERATE this behavior. Remove priveledges and be strict and consistent. These kids need strict boundaries, more than a lot of other kids. They want and need to feel you are in control, even though they fight it.
The counseling is a great idea. You also need someone to be on YOUR side (not that you and your son are against each other) but to support YOU.
It's easy to start doubting yourself and thinking you are doing something wrong as a mother when it gets so hard!
And when you are a single parent that can be challenging.

I would recommend you find a male therapist that you two can see together to start working on some issues. Boys need men in their lives. I am not sure what your son's father has to do with any of this, but that plays a part in his development. If the father is around, but not supportive, find male role models who respect women to be around your son. He needs to see that you are his mom and deserve respect.
From personal experience, I can say this has helped my son. Seeing that other adults think that he needs to listen to me and respect me, that I do in fact know what is best for him, that I am THE BOSS, those things have finally started sinking into his brain and I can see the transformation.
I also, just recently started him on medication for ADHD and it is looking good so far. I waited too long, but I think I am on the right track now. Research as much as you can online, too.
Good luck B.!

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M.C.

answers from Eugene on

Dear Mom,
What a hard situation you have. I feel for you, for I have raised a son with ODD. Its not easy, and I dont think that there are no really easy answers. I grasped for all the help I could get. My first suggestion would be, to become knowledgible of ODD. Secondly, I would have him evaluated at the county mental health department for a correct diagnoisis. Then I would have him evaluated at school for a possible IEP, to see if it will interfere in his learning ability. Behavior can interfere. As far as medicine, it can go either way. Positive or negitive. In my case some seemed like a miricle medicine, and in other ways seemed to cuase more problems. So it would be difficult for me to suggest that is the right answer after what I know now. There are behavoiral specialist that works with kids in counsling. But the most important thing is that they work with you both. Its important for you to feel like you are the parent, and know how and what to do with your son. There are incare placement places for this as well, which I ended up doing with my son by the time he was 12. That was the hardest thing I had to do in my life, was it the best thing.. I dont know. But I was tired, and scared for him had no support from family and friends. You are more than welcome to email me private, and i will be glad to give you my number, for any type of on going support, or ideas. I hope this has helped some, and I am sorry for this to have to happen to any family, because it is quite the challange. Good luck .. like i said I will be glad to help if I can.

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T.M.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi B.,

My daughter will be 4 next week and I have been dealing with these same issues for two years now. We have been through you know where and back over these past two years, but it even started before things got so terrible in our lives. I won't go into detail, but our circumstances were almost unbearable. During that time, she became so stressed, scared, worried, clingy, violent towards me especially, but also now even still to my 16 month old daughter. She kicked our nanny yesterday in the stomach and punched her in the chest when she was told she had to get in the bathtub. (I finally got some help this summer because my husband is on active duty.)

Basically, we've tried everything and nothing has worked until just in the last week. Have you heard of the Feingold Diet? Here is the link: http://www.feingold.org/ Basically, it's just cutting out all artificial colors and flavors and a few preservatives found in things. It's not expensive to follow and I actually saved more money at Trader Joe's yesterday than I would have at the grocery store and got her a ton of food, including lollipops that are not artificially colored. When I read the symptom list on their web site, it was like I was reading my daughter's profile. They said it could get worse before it gets better, but I noticed a difference in her attitude and behavior in the first 3 days. She has still had some outbursts, like yesterday, but I realized something she had for lunch could have triggered it. I'm not totally used to reading labels yet. It's amazing, the difference. She has actually been sleeping through the night, or maybe waking up once, since we started it with her last week. That is a miracle in and of itself. She has been waking up anywhere from 2 to 10 times per night for the last 2 years.

The other thing I have noticed about her is that she is extremely sensitive to sound, smell, and touch. If I try to hold her in the "hug" position, it only makes her more violent. I have to completely separate her from me, or whoever else, immediately and she will calm down much faster. I am taking her to an Occupational Therapist tomorrow for an evaluation. They deal with kids who have hypersensitivites and find out what they are, and then work on desensitizing them. From what her pediatrician said, she thinks we can expect great results. I hope so. I will keep you posted if you'd like, on her progress. Maybe your son would benefit from this type of therapy. It wouldn't hurt to try the diet though.

I'm right there with you though B.. I wonder sometimes how I can love this little person so much, and want to sell her on ebay at the same time. I truly have seen a difference in her though after cutting out the artificial stuff. And she still gets to eat sugar. Just a note, if the label says Vanillin instead of Vanilla, or Vanilla Extract, steer clear! It seems to be the worst trigger of them all. Take care and I will pray for strength and wisdom for you.

T.

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B.L.

answers from Bellingham on

I'm so sorry B. for your struggles and also for your son's. We have 5 kids and two of them are particularly challenging. Nothing violent however. Although it sounds impossibly simplistic, the additives in their food control their behavior in an extreme and obvious way once you know what to look for in susceptible children. Colors, preservatives, etc. are usually made of petroleum and they are everywhere in American foods if you don't specifically purchase to avoid them. They are devastating to behavior, to school performance and just to loving interaction with family members and society in some susceptible people. There is an organinization at Feingold.com that has helped save my sanity with my own kids. To know the reasons for these things happening and not just load them up on meds that can be so harmful was a Godsend. Reactions in my kids go from spacey and can't follow two sentences to aggresive defiance (not physical violence though) depending on which thing they eat plus absolute denial that anything is wrong or that it can be just food once they are "under the influence". Vitamin C (naturally derived and obviously with no colors, etc.) has been the only thing I have found to help NOW while they are clearing out whatever contaminant they have eaten. My most susceptible son will be 16 next month and we absolutely insist he takes his vitamins (top quality ones called Usana) every single day. It is very difficult to deal with him otherwise once he has eaten or drank something that triggers him. There are many choices of foods without harmful additives but you have to know to look for them. Paprika and turmeric extractives, msg, nitrates and nitrites and of course colors, "flavors", and preservatives are the ones most troublesome for us. I struggled on my own for years to see patterns of behavior triggered in them before I found feingold. It has been so helpful to learn from other's years of trials and knowledge to apply to my own kids. We all love our children and want the best for them. My son who is the most affected is also the most lovey dovey and kind when he's not on the chemicals. It's so sad they struggle so hard for something so unnecessary. Good luck to you. The natural foods sections at Haggens and at Freddys and also Trader Joes and the co-op in Bellingham are great places to start. Anything out of a box or can is basically suspect. You have to read every label. The tiniest bit of coloring, etc. can trigger them. Take care, I wish you the best.

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A.M.

answers from Portland on

Hello B.,

My son is 13 years old, and has been ADHD and ODD(oppositional) since he was in pre-school. It was not diagnosed until he was nine. As for the ODD, we had to medicate him as he became a danger to himself and others. I remember most, a time he simply did not want to shower, he refused with such rage...he wrapped the car's seatbelt around his neck which then locked. We had to find the nearest sharp object and cut him loose before he choked to death. He's off meds now, but the sympotms are comming back again. Soon we will be having him re-evaluated. Life is very difficult for these children and their families. You must do whatever you need to do to keep things as normal as possible. Best of Luck and well wishes!

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K.Y.

answers from Anchorage on

I also have a child that was diagnosed with ODD. He is now 12 yrs old. My son was diagnosed with ODD when he was 8 yrs old. I too have had trouble with him ever since he was really young. My son would throw things at me, yell at me, headbutt me, bite me, scratch himself, and hurt himself. He would also stab his papers with his pencil, he liked to stab papers, boxes. He just liked to demolish things. I am not sure why he was so angry but he was. He hated everything. I thought that I could not get throught it. I almost sent him to a military school, but I couldn't do it. One thing that helped was changing up the disipline, Disipline for him might work once but then it wouldn't work again so it had to be changed often. Find something he is attached to and likes a lot, that helps with getting them to behave because then they have their favorite thing to look forward to. I know that he has grown out of a lot of his temper tantrums but every once in a while I see a break down. Some days it was hard to see the good in him which is so sad, he is my boy and it was really hard on me to feel that way towards my son.

Be carefull about diagnosing him though. My son has been stuck in the Special needs class in every school he has been in. I had to take him out of school because they would not let him be in a regular class.

I hope some things I have said will help, if not you can ask me some more questions. take care and God bless you!! Hang in there.

K.

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W.C.

answers from Seattle on

I was a teacher for 13 year--k-1 in private and public schools.

When I was in private schools I had a number of children (usually boys) that could not be fit into public schools. Their behavior could be classed as Oppositional Defiant Disorder. This is very hard for you and you can not do it alone.

You will need the support of a good child psychologist and careful choice of teacher--maybe private school if you can afford it. You will have to choose the teacher or make sure the teacher is aware of your child's special needs because your child is a child of special needs. If you stay in the public school system start working now with the principal and school psychologist. Use the public school system to the fullest. Research what is available and use it. Work with the teacher as team member. Find out if your presence in the classroom makes his behavior worse of better.

But most important is that you will need the support of a child psychologist for your child and some family counseling for your family.

I hope some of this helps. I know you are doing your very best in every moment. Best wishes. W.

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C.P.

answers from Portland on

Your child may be a leader in the making. He wants to defy authority now but he can not be allowed to behave that way. To be a good leader he needs to know how to be led. Please find reading material, or a counselor with common sense, to help you to get his attention so that he will want to learn from you. YOU must be the leader. Apparently he doesn't respect your authority right now. It will be your challenge to be the authority he can respect. Do not allow him to treat you as if you are a wimp. If you have to physically retrain him with your arms until he can cooperate then you must do that.

I have had two strong willed children (adults now)who could have been given the DX OPD. They were simply leaders in the making.

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J.C.

answers from Eugene on

While it is possible that your child has Oppositional Defiant Disorder, he is very young for that diagnosis. I am a Child & Family Therapist and have worked with kids of all ages, and have experience with this sort of behavior. My best suggestion for you is to see a therapist. He or she can properly assess the situation, identify strengths and needs, determine appropriate diagnoses, consider whether or not your son needs a referral for medication, etc. With kids this age, often counseling, both individual and family, can help. The most important thing is that you are addressing this now, instead of waiting until he is older. Good luck and if you have other questions I might be able to answer for you, please feel free to contact me.

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J.N.

answers from Seattle on

Wow! That sounds very difficult. I feel for you. I would start with contacting your local Children's Hospital or University Hospital to schedule and evaluation. i know that both Children's Hospital and UW have doctor's who specialize in evaluating and diagnosing children with these types of disorders. My understanding is that it can be a very long waiting list, but that most regular pediatricians are just not able to properly diagnose these types of disorders. Your school district can also do testing to help narrow the options, but they can't diagnose anything. Good Luck to you.

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D.M.

answers from Anchorage on

I don't have any experience for you but fosterparents.com has a Oppositional Defiant Disorder course for 6.95 available. Click on the online training and scroll down to disorders. prayers with you!

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L.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hey B.,
First, let me say that I agree with Jessica's suggestion on getting him in for a more complete evaluation by a specialist. I have had several students with ODD and it is not an easy one to deal with. So, what I can offer you is: you are by far not alone; there is a growing amount of information on ODD, so just start doing some research. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a support group for parents of ODD kids somewhere either online or locally. Also, from my experiences, the way in which you are describing how you handle your son during these times: calm and loving, is the absolute best way, no matter how hard it is, please know that if you lose your cool, you will only make it worse. Be safe, of course, and make sure that the environment your son is in is always safe (keeping any potentially dangerous items out of reach, just in case). Also, make sure to inform his teachers so they can be supportive.
Although this is a difficult time, and although I'm unsure of the specifics, I know that there are methods that can help (to my knowledge, no meds., though); sometimes, though, at least knowing that this is, to a great extent out of his control (until he learns some strategies and tools), can be helpful (that you are obviously a loving, caring, and wonderful mom) in coping.
It's too late for my brain to recall details of what worked with my students, but I'll keep thinking on it.
Good luck and just keep loving him as you already are.
L. A.=0)

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J.B.

answers from Medford on

Try eliminating sugar from his diet. It helped so much with my son. He was never diagnosed with anything, but the behavior sounds similar. It all started when he started eating sugar which coresponded with when he started school where they gave it to him. He can have one piece of fruit per day. Any more, he flips out. I get stevia to sweeten stuff with. You can bake with it. I freeze milk and add stevia, cocoa powder, a little liquid milk and blend it into 'ice cream'. He really likes it. Sugar is in a lot of things, read the labels. We eat unsweetened cereal, like Cheerios, and he adds stevia to sweeten it. I like it the way it is. Unfrosted shredded wheat, puffed rice, puffed wheat, etc... are all good. Just add stevia if you need the sweet. Don't forget about: jelly, peanut butter (I get Adams natural that we stir), ketchup, bbq sauce, etc... all have sugar. Even if it only helps a little and you still have to go another route, avoiding sugar will bennefit both of you any way.

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D.S.

answers from Seattle on

Hi B.,
My name is D., I take care of a couple of boys and one definately has ODD.He goes into fits of rage, so bad that we have had to put him in a cold shower to "cool him off". We do the holding therapy too. Unfortunatly his mother hasn't taken any further steps. We recorded him during one of his episodes but she has yet to show it to his doctor. This child is very vicious and violent when he goes off...and makes sounds like he is possessed. Counceling is good, if you can avoid meds that is great , but don't close up your mind completely to them. My son who has Dawn Syndrome and Autism also has severe mood swings and a temper to boot! Nothhing was working to get him to calm himself, so his doctor put him on a small dose of paxil, whinch works as a mood stabilizer in kids like my son. He is soon to be wiened off so we can see if he can go without. So as a last resort meds are ok. I wish you the best of luck! Sounds like your doing the best you can, all you can. I wish my friend would do the same for her son.

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E.S.

answers from Richland on

I work in a school that has a special program for "behavior" children, children who need extra help learning how to control their anger, for the most part. Children come from all over the district to attend the program. The goal of the program to is "graduate" the children in to a regular classroom. The difference I see in these children from when they go in to when they graduate is incredible! My only part, having them in the regular classroom, was to hold them accountable, to be a little extra firm with them. I have to admit, ODD was the hardest for me. The guy who heads the program is Clint Kitrell ([email protected]____.com) and I highly recommend contacting him with questions you might have. He is just amazing! I have attended two classes he put on for the district and they were very helpful. He doesn't mind receiving questions- just give him the same information you gave us at MamaSource: give the symptoms, actions, and what you did. He is blunt, but he has the best information I have found. Good luck!

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K.T.

answers from Bellingham on

It sounds like you have a very "spirited" child! I wouldn't be to quick to diagnose him w/ ODD. This is a very serious mental disorder that usually isn't "diagnosed" until later adolecents. Children act out for a variety of reasons and I think that you have taken the right course in seeking professional help from a councelor. Being a single mom makes is especially difficult - there is never enough time in the day. He may just be needing more of your attention than you're able to give him right now and is acting out to get it. (Children don't understand that acting out just gets negitive attention - they just dont understand yet how to ask for your time in a positive way). Anyway the best advice I have is try to catch him being good and offer as much praise as you can at those times, also if you notice that there is a particular time of day, or situation in which he acts out, try to plan ahead and give him your full attention before things get out of controll. And above all try to keep your cool... hard to do but he will only escalate his behavior if he sees that it affects you. Walk away if you can and let him cool off with out continuing to argue or let him argue w/ you. Good luck and if you can enlist the help of family or friends, give yourself a day off it sounds like you could use it!

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L.M.

answers from Yakima on

I have a 16 year old that is bi-polar, ADHD,ODD and suffering from traumatic stress syndrome from a very unfortunateincidentthathappened to him when he was 12. he has beenincounselingfor 3 years. We did not notice any anger issuesuntil heturned 9 yearsold and then they appeared. There is a very good book called Oppositional Defiant disorder:The parents handbook...or something to that effect. I got it at the library and it was very good and actually gave suggestions init. It also explained how the child feels at the time he is doing this and how not to trigger it more.
I know what you mean when you say out of the norm...he cango through the house callingeveryone names, cussing, slammingthings around andleavethehouse with out permission just because he has hismind set on doing something and cannot shift gears. This is one of their problems. He takes Zoloft, Abilify and Concerta...we had to go to medication and counseling. One thing if I had to do over is really stress the consequences for his actions. Make it very cut and dried...if you do this..this is what is going to happen and ALWAYS follow through on it. He is still young enoughthat you can do that very nicely. They need very structured lives. Getting up, eating, going to bed,etc. Sleep is very important to them. If they are tired it is worse. Do you have a problem with him in kindergarten or is he not there yet? I cannot stress how importantit is to give himconsequences thatwill really mean something tohimand stickto them...this is the only way that he has learned to control his behavior. Thereis a book that ihighly recommend for you to read, It is called, The Explosive child by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. It is the most helpful book Ihave ever read. Plus go to the website Think Kids.org...if it is not .org. try.com....this is the man that wrote the book and this is a great site. Hopesomeof this helps...this is not easy is it? L.

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G.H.

answers from Richland on

I wholeheartedly agree with Becky L - I know kids that had ADD and Tourettes and don't have the symptoms anymore now that they've cut out the food dyes and chemicals in processed foods. Shop on the perimeter of the grocery store for the healthiest choices (if you don't have a T.J.'s where you live).
Another thing you can do is to go to a N.A.E.T. person to see what sensitivities he may have. They can help you get rid of them. Go to www.naet.com
and type in your zip code to find one near you.
A great book to have in your home is called "Prescription for Nutritional Healing".
Oh, and Dr. Frank Lawless book "The ADD Answer" also touts the benefits of NAET. (As seen on Dr. Phil)

Drugs just mask the problem and don't CURE the problem.

Please give this a try! We'll be praying for you!

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A.K.

answers from Yakima on

Oh B., I am so sorry you are going through this. This will be a challenge you will always have to deal with, and yes, there are medications....but they will stop working like they had in the beginning and things will change and there will be huge episodes no matter where you are....your son will grow, hit puberty and hopfully by then, he will have been learning ways to deal with his anger so that he does not become violent to his peers. School might be a challenge too. YES, my son will be 9 next month and since he was 2 i have had issues, not quite sure what it was, thought it was just ADHD, but as he got older everyhting else came out. ADHD, ODD, IED, MDD, OCD...seems like its a never ending battle. Try and get involved with a bahavioral resource center- i dont know what state you live in, but if its washington they have a place called BHR- behavioral health resources and they will do an assesment on your son and if he is approved he will be appointed a psycologist that will work on getting him on the meds that are right for him, and you will meet once a month and you will have your own case manager for your son who will see him once a week to help him with his behavior. I dont want to scare you but my son ended up having to be admitted into a behavior hospital for 2 weeks on two different occasions, it helped, but it only happened because he was beyond my control and was too dangerous to be at home. I love my son with all my heart but every day of my life will be a challenge with him. I think I finially realize that he will never be able to to live on his own without help from a faccility, but hes my son and Im his mother, I will always bet there and never give up on him. its the sweet moments that are just moments that make me remember my little charlie.
please take care and let me know if you have any questions.
A.

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L.M.

answers from Seattle on

Hi B.,

I can relate to your situation. My younger brother (six years younger) had ODD as a child. He had violent outbursts, complete meltdowns, would threaten and swear at us. I want to let you know that there is hope! My brother is now 23, and he graduated from Colgate University and is now applying to medical school. It seems that a lot of the energy that was so negative when he was a kid has found other outlets as he grew up. He is still very high energy and active, but he puts that energy into activities like bike riding, volunteering and mountain climbing. I'll try and outline what I know our mom did to treat my brother.

You are smart to try counseling. Our mom treated my brother with counseling. He had individual sessions through Children's Hospital, and we also had sessions with just him and my mom, as well as whole family counseling sessions to help him deal with his anger and to help the family deal with his outbursts and understand where he was coming from.

My mom never medicated my brother--although this was nearly 20 years ago, so you should speak with your pediatrician and counselor about the options if you want to go that route. My mom also had my brother tested for food allergies, and tried a special diet to eliminate wheat and dairy, but the diet proved more difficult than helpful so that didn't last. But again, another possibility to look into...

The main things that I saw transform my brother though were two things: athletics and a positive-reinforcement program that my mom called "Big Bucks." First of all, after my brother turned four, my mom enrolled him in every summer sports camp and sports team that she could find (and afford). Sports proved a great way to get the energy out. And as an added bonus, as my brother got better at sports, his coaches and teammates gave him positive feedback that helped his self-esteem (which is so critical for these kids when they feel they are labeled "naughty").

The second and probably biggest thing was the "Big Bucks" program. My mom started this to give my brother positive attention when he was doing something right. She always said, "when he's getting ready to throw his food across the table, before he does it (the wrong thing), give him a compliment like 'oh, I love how you're holding your fork!'" And that would make him stop, look at how he's holding his fork and think, "wow. I did something right." That's a simplistic version, but the basic idea behind the program.

Then what she did was give him "big bucks" for things she wanted him to do, like making his bed, remembering to say please or thank you, sharing a toy with his cousin, or just being pleasant to be around. She'd say "Good job for remembering to make your bed. You earned five (ten, twenty) big bucks." She determined the amount based on the action, but since she and my brother had to keep track in their heads the amount, she kept it based on fives. Then she drew up a chart of prizes that my brother could earn. A trip to the ice cream store would cost him say, 50 big bucks. Or a half hour at the school playground would cost 25 big bucks. An extra story at bedtime cost 20 big bucks. If he wanted to earn real money, he could earn 2 dollars for 200 big bucks. You get the idea...

After she started giving him big bucks for the positives, she also started taking big bucks away for the wrong behavior (also instilling that the behavior, not the child was wrong). She'd just say, "Hitting is not acceptable. Take away 10 big bucks." Again, the amount was based on the action.

The drawback of this program is that it requires remembering one more thing. As a mom and teacher, I know how difficult that can be! But your son can help you remember too, and if he engages in the program, chances are he'll be honest and help remind you.

I really hope that helps. I can recall how desperate our family felt at the time of dealing with ODD. But again, know there is hope and there are ways to treat ODD.

Take care and good luck!
L.

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E.K.

answers from Flagstaff on

B.,

I'm sorry to hear that you are going through this as a single mother. My younger brother was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD at a very young age, I know the tantrums you speak of very well. As difficult as it was growing up with a sibling with this, it was harder on my mom trying to effectively raise a child with it (and make sure the rest of us came out ok too). I would like to say it will get better, but it is going to be rough. The best I can offer you is someone to talk to who has been through it all and is still trying to help my brother (who is now 25 deal with the adult symptoms since the 'disorder' is only technically diagnosed through childhood - and his new wife - who didn't really know what she was getting into- deal with the day to day difficulties): My mom. If you email me, I can send you her email address. She is currently working on a book trying to describe what it was like to raise a child with ADHD and ODD. She can provide possibly some insight and definitely some support for what you are going through.

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D.D.

answers from Seattle on

God bless you. What a horrifically distressing problem. I am convinced from people I know, things I've experienced seen and read in the last 40 years that our foods are making our kids sick - and not necessarily because of bad choices either. It's because of unscrupulous companies pretending poisonous chemicals aren't poisonous. Only 2 out of the 2000 new chemicals used on us every year are tested by the FDA.

Check out what he is eating. My child would be autistic today if she hadn't been discovered to be celiac at age 3. It was making her brain shut down. Is he consuming sugar? Is he allergic to some food that could make him very cranky? Food allergies made me crazy - literally, gave me terrible mood swings and anxiety attacks. Another thing that would clue you in if his digestion is a little off although it may not seem to be at this point.

You can cut out dairy for 4 days, or sugar for 4 days, or different foods and see if it makes a difference.

Usually really abnormal behaviour such as what you are describing can be caused (believe it or not) by food additives and other things that are common in our diets that children should not be consuming. There are a LOT of things in our foods nowadays that are touted as safe that are far from safe, especially for children. The bovine growth hormone in milk for example. That's why I buy organic milk for my children. Watch the breads you consume. Make sure not only that they are whole wheat, but that they also don't have a million other ingredients including High Fructose Corn Syrup or preservatives - not good for ANYBODY! I was horrified to discover that nowadays almost every loaf of wheat bread has high fructose corn syrup in it. The cupcakes in the grocery store list so many ingredients in them (esp. Albertsons and Safeway), that you wouldn't even know it was a chocolate cupcake if you were only reading the ingredients. You have to have breads that contain unbleached flour, yeast, and oil -nothing else.

In the 70's the doctors discovered that certain additives and dyes and make kids nuts. Now it seems everyone has forgotten this except for a few of us that are into natural medicines and foods. Nowadays we have to be wise consumers to protect our children from these unscrupulous companies.

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B.M.

answers from Portland on

HI B.,
I do have a little expirence with this, but my daughther does not have odd, she has autism, but she does and can be violent with the head butting and things. I don't have too much advice. My brother and his wife have three boys that have adhd with two having odd and I see the struggles that they have gone thru. My brother has a bit of an edge in that he is an adhd specialists and I know that what you have said in your post is that you are doing what is right. The best thing you can do is what you can to keep him safe. It is so so hard. I know. I know the feelings you go through and how you might struggle to not hurt him at times. It is hard. Keep doing what you are doing. Call OHSU and see if they can put you through to someone who might be able to help you.. Good luck. If you just need to talk, email me [email protected]____.com

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J.B.

answers from Seattle on

Ouch. Praying for you.

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A.S.

answers from Portland on

I would love to provide you with some input from the educational standpoint but have a quick question first: Is your son already in kindergarten and heading into first grade or will he be starting kindy in the fall of 2008?

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R.S.

answers from Seattle on

I have a friend whose son was just diagnosed with this. What you're going through sounds very familiar to what she described to me. Her son also has ADD and is on medication for that, which I believe has helped a bit with the ODD. Apparently this is a life-long condition that is treated with medication and occupational therapy. If you have the time, I would recommend getting in touch with someone at Children's Hospital. I believe there may be a wait, but from what my friend talked about, I'm not sure traditional counseling is going to help - you need someone who is familiar with this condition and has the resources to help you and your son manage it.

Best wishes...

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N.P.

answers from Portland on

Good for you to recognize this and getting him help. It will
not go away on it's own. Get all the help you can for the
two of you. NOW is the time that professional help can make
a difference. Everyone will have a different thought. It
could be behavior modification, diet, food dyes and additives and the list goes on and it's probably a combination. Create a support team. There are other parents and kids going through
the same thing. Act now!

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M.F.

answers from Seattle on

Hi B.,
I saw your post and was interested since my now almost 15 year old stepdaughter was diagnosed with ODD as a small child. She has never been medicated and she has been in counseling at different times in her life. I believe more should have been done to help her though as she is bordering on conduct disorder at times now that she is older, but in some ways has gotten better too. Anyways, I just wanted to put it out there that as well as the more traditional treatments, you should look into his food intake as far as the kinds of things he is eating. I just saw a story about this on our local news sometimes in the last week or so and maybe your son is sensitive to artifical colors and preservatives in the food he is eating...it is certainly worth a try...much easier to try than some of the other treatments! Here are some links with information:

http://children.webmd.com/news/20080603/watchdog-group-as...

http://www.chem-tox.com/pregnancy/artificial.htm

Bless you and I really hope this helps you...I was my stepdaughter's main caregiver for alot of the time when she was younger and it was the most difficult time of my life!!!!

M.

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E.M.

answers from Portland on

Hi,

As a naturopath, I've seen and heard many cases of children who were treated homeopathically for behavioral disorders make major turn-arounds. Dietary assessments can help a lot, too.

Good luck with this.

~E. Mendenhall

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M.F.

answers from Seattle on

B., It sounds like you received a lot of encouragement and advice and it sounds too like a blessing the diagnoses is a sensory integration issue not ODD. I just wanted to offer to let you talk to other moms who have children with similar issues possibly even the same one( I can do some reasearch on that if you would like), that have seen some great improvement using the nutritional shakes we use and are distributors for. We have seen people of all ages get some wonderful results using these products so much so that it has become a real passion with me to get the word out about them. Let me know if you would like more information. M.

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R.W.

answers from Anchorage on

Hi, B.,
I have a child that was recently diagnosed with ODD too and on top of that has inattentive ADHD. I had to admit him into a Behavioral Rehab Center for three months. They wanted to keep him for 18 months but they weren't treating him very well and didn't encourage family interaction as much as I thought he needed, so, I fought them to get him out of there last August. However, the three months he did spend there did help him a great deal. His behavior has mellowed out considerably when it comes to defiance. Yes, he still needs outpatient care, but its not half as bad as it was before he went to inpatient. So, if it continually gets worse I would consider checking into a rehab center or some very intense outpatient therapy. Thanks for letting me help if I have. Good luck and God Bless you and your son.

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