New here - 8yo DS with PTSD/RAD/ADHD/and ?? (long)

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2005
New here - 8yo DS with PTSD/RAD/ADHD/and ?? (long)
20
Tue, 10-25-2011 - 7:26am

Howdy :) I'm Kristin, a single mom of Aryc (8) and Nate (6). Aryc has been diagnosed with PTSD (abuse and neglect from his dad, which is why I'm now a single mom with primary custody 9 months out of the year), RAD, and mild/moderate ADHD, and life-threateningly severe asthma. (In fact, we were just in the ER last night - second time in 2 weeks - because this attack was so bad that he was turning blue!) We just turned new Vanderbilt scales in to his therapist and will hopefully get the results within the next week or two. People with autism experience have also suggested that he may be mildly austic, but that hasn't been tested yet. (I'm working on getting him tested once we find out what the Vanderbilt scales have to say.) It is also entirely possible that all of this is co-morbid with bipolar, as both his dad and I are diagnosed bipolar, and I have been since I was 6. Nate has sensory processing disorder, severe developmental delays, and educational autism. I'm working on getting him to be officially tested/diagnosed ASAP.

Life at our house is...challenging. Aryc really struggles with flips in his behavior and attitude. One minute he's the sweetest, kindest, funniest, most empathetic kid you will ever meet. And then, usually out of seemingly nowhere, his whole body changes -- the look on his face, in his eyes, the way he carries himself -- all changes, like a switch was flipped. He gets hostile, brooding, depressed, lashes out, is destructive. Right after the diagnosis he was put on Geodon to stabilize his moods and calm him down. While he was Geodon (after only 2-3 days) he tried to physically pick up Nate and throw him into oncoming traffic on our busy street, then 10 minutes later, attempted to slit his wrist with a steak knife - while glaring at me. Then 20 minutes later, he was fine, like nothing had happened. Right around that same time, he tried to kill the cat by breaking its neck and back. He's a kleptomaniac and a compulsive liar, with a serious bed-wetting problem. He's disruptive in school -- his teacher most mentioned him throwing his desk to get attention during quiet moments, making noises to distract the class, and overly physical behavior to gain attention, such as leaving the room every 10 minutes (literally) to go the bathroom to play with the water in the sinks, or getting out of line to run around the hallway, etc. He has no IEP (yet!!) and is in a regular classroom with one teacher and about 20 or so other kids. He has a helper/tutor come in for about 45 minutes a day for specialized help with reading and math (both poor subjects), but it's not specifically addressing these issues in conjunction with the studying.

I love him sooo much and I really don't want to seem like I'm complaining about him or making him sound like a monster. He's not!!! But in order to be honest and get the help we all so desperately need, I do need to be honest with where we're at and what we're dealing with on an almost daily basis.

Life is stressful enough as-is right now: I'm recently unemployed and living off our $400 a month in child support, which isn't paying the rent and only barely covering keeping our lights on. Childcare is pretty much non-existant for the types of jobs I'm qualified for (no degree yet...I flunked out last semester because of diversion of attention for the kids' issues), which makes finding a job that much more difficult and stressful. Family feels this is attention-seeking behavior on my part so people will feel sorry for me (that's from his dad) or a lack of discipline on my part (that's my side of the family, which lives close and interacts often...when they have the patience for it). Nate's issues are getting worse and he's starting to regress. And out of necessity, I have taken on my friend's 4 yr old son for good chunks of the day, and he has behavior issues of his own, which exacerbate my kids' issues. /sigh

What I'm working on: education, understanding, and tolerance!!!! There was a link posted giving the basics of some of the lesser acknowledged components of ADHD. WHAT AN EYE OPENER!!!!! I had NO idea that some of the klepto and lying issues, among other things, were part of the ADHD! (They may also be part of the other things he's dealing with, but at least I have a starting point and stop thinking that he's just a "bad kid"!) He's home sick today so I will be using this time to cuddle and spend time with him, and specifically to have short conversations about how his world looks through HIS eyes...something I've never thought to find out before now. I'm really excited to learn about him in this new way! I'm also trying to gently educate my family and his dad. I pray they really take in what I'm sending their way and start using new ways of interacting with Aryc and me. It's sooo hard on Aryc when he's obviously struggling with things, let's just say the noise making, and my dad comes down hard on him for purposely being annoying, and "that's why people don't like you", and yelling at me for "allowing" him to act like that. It's tough on everyone and only makes things worse.

I would love to A) get the official diagnosis so we have a true starting place, B) get good Christian (or really sound secular) parenting resources for children with these special issues, C) get educated about what he's dealing with so I can stop being so angry and bitter, and D) teach (by resources and example) how to better interact, encourage, and deal with their special situations.

Thank you for your patience with my long post. I look forward to looking around and learning more from you amazing women! :)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2005

Thank you for your compassion! It has been the most heartbreaking, agonizing decisions of my life (of which there have been quite a few that fall into that category), but I really feel peace that it's what they need. I feel this is the most loving, most motherly, most protective act I can do for them given the situation that's become our reality. I know there will be judgment from people who have never btdt. Fine. Understandable. I guess I would probably judge someone doing this, too...but now that I have walked a mile in their shoes, I can empathize and have compassion.

Their dad has been in counseling and a long-standing Christian single father's group for quite awhile now. His mentor is a single dad with EIGHT BOYS!! His girlfriend (long-term relationship) is a trained early childhood educator and has been an EXCELLENT influence on his parenting style and on the boys. And yeah, Aryc needs to hear it from his dad. His dad is extremely chivalrous (okay, I realize that sounds backwards given the history I've mentioned before, but it is true and always has been. There was a LOT more at play in the past than just his behavior that contributed to the bad situation!) and is always teaching Aryc how to be a gentleman in word, deed, and respect. When he came home from his dad's last summer, Aryc was soooo respectful and helpful and compassionate towards me! Granted, it faded fast, but it proved to me that this could be exactly what Aryc needs to straighten himself out. I have some reservations about the whole thing, of course, and I'm going to be keeping an extremely close eye on it (esp given the past) and will NOT HESITATE to call CPS if I feel it's warranted! But overall I am at peace with this, as much as my breaking heart can be, and am confident that this is the right decision given the options.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
I feel for you. I have a friend who recently put her very autistic son in a group home to finally get him the help he needed, because his father (her ex) would not do a THING to help. It is really really hard to admit that as a parent you don't have what it takes to get the help your child needs.

But, if Dad has things under control (has done counseling, is on his own meds, etc.) and the kids are ok with going with him, then it can be a good thing. Personally, I would keep a close eye on things and make sure that with the pressure of the boys the Dad does not backslide. Maybe set up some plan for that so that if Dad says they go back to you, that it can happen early.

Sometimes, boys need other men around. I have seen more than one bratty boy go to Dad's and come back a respectful young gentleman. Dad saying "You don't talk to a woman like that EVER" can carry a lot of weight. My husband has had to say that to our sons a couple of times. Older brothers (upper teens to 20s,) Uncles, Grandfathers, can do this too but you say you don't have that support. If you don't have it, you don't have it.

Hopefully, as you say, Dad, not in the system (where you are labeled as "just another nobody who knows nothing"....urg, I run into that too at school, "just another mom" - not the expert on my kid!) hopefully Dad can get the evaluations that they need more quickly - being around DC he has access to DC, Baltimore and even Philadelphia to try to get help. There are great children's hospitals in the area, that he should be able to get access to, and hopefully get the oldest the evaluation in a fairly quick manner that your son needs.

I wish the best to you, and your sons. I hope that you can have peace with yourself about letting go of the day to day parts of their lives.

And just ignore Sabertooth. She means well, but her wording sometimes leaves a lot to be desired in the way of compassion. She has a lot of good experience and knowledge, but she is also not in your exact situation with your constraints.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2005

Again, I totally agree. And the nearest one is 3 1/2 hours away, one-way. I'm willing to make that drive, but I can't afford the gas ($200 per trip), not to mention the other expenses. I live on $400 a month right now. I can't get a job because there's no childcare available. It's not like I have a bunch a money at my disposal, otherwise these steps would have already been taken a long time ago, rather than dicking around with the small-time stuff I'm currently limited to.

Their dad has really, really good private insurance through work. He lives 20 minutes from D.C., with a plethora of resources at his disposal and lives close enough to really use them. He sees the merit and value in this [testing, diagnosis, meds] needing to be done, and it will be done once they get to his house. Like I said before, their dad can provide in ways I simply can't. That's part of the reason I made the decision to send them there temporarily. He will have them for 18 months. More than enough time to get all of the diagnosis and meds worked out while they're there. Once all of that's done and they're back here, it's more about maintenance and progress than diagnosis.

I told my parents about this yesterday. I was expecting almost violent opposition to the idea -- they really don't like Alex (the boys' dad). But they surprised me by calmly explaining that this was the only, the last option they could see, too, and wondered why it took me so long to make this decision. Are they happy about it? NO!! And neither am I! But it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for their best interest. How could I look them in the face in 10-20 years and explain "I was selfish and wanted to keep you more than I wanted to get you help I couldn't provide. I'm sorry your life is ruined, but I got what I wanted." ??? This is an agonizing decision all the way around, but it needed to be made.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2008
You need a Neuropsychologits, not a counselor, not a pediatrician. If you ask your pediatrician for a referral, demand even, then you will be able to have a diagnosis made by a qualified person. A Counselor is not qualified ot make a Medical diagnosis, and that is what he needs.

I understand how hard this is, been there...
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2005

I totally agree. I've been fighting tooth and nail to get him tested, diagnosed, and properly treated (behaviorally and with meds) for TWO YEARS!!! But everybody's dragging their feet, and I can't march in there and force it. Well, I have, actually, but they won't snap to attention for me. I've been begging for in-home help for over a year. All I get told is: "We have to triage it, diagnose it, make sure it's more than just behavioral...then *maybe* we can." Well, WTH??? And before y'all say "well, see another doctor, then!", let me remind you that I'm in a very small town and more resources very far away (and not covered by my insurance). I can't afford to privately pay for all of this (and I would if at all I could!!), so I have an extremely limited selection of resources in-person. The autism testing alone is $200 an hour, and takes a good 4-8 hours to complete and get a plan in order. We are on Wisconsin Medicaid. It's like any other public health program - I'm grateful we have it, but sometimes it's a curse...like in this case. It limits what's available and how long it takes to get help. I've been pushing and pushing and demanding for several years now, but to little avail. So I think my original time-line is about right. AND if his counselor ONLY says it's ODD, then his counselor will not make the necessary referrals to get him on meds and get further testing for other issues that may be at play.

I'm glad it's a support board - I need support AND education! At the same time, the snotty tone that Sabrtooth always seems to take is NOT appreciated and will not motivate me to continue this board as a resource... which would be sad for me because I think it's a very rich resource that I sorely need!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-25-2011

Yes, it can take a while to find the right meds - but not over a year for diag - He needs a psych right NOW - not a darn survey

and let me say - that my son has always "acted" better with his father than me - and it was fear to an extent

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2008

I also think there is more, MUCH more going on. And honestly, if they are different with their dad it could be out of fear alone.

I would not send my child to live with an abusive parent, but instead would seek Psychiatric treatment ASAP.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2005

For being on a "support" board, you're kind snotty. I really don't need that right now. I'm getting that from all sides. If this is the "support", then I'll just stick to my counselor...when I can get an appointment.

Their dad has conquered his anger problem. He's no longer an angry guy and is not impulsive anymore. Aryc connects with his dad and respects him, so his dad can reach him. I can't. He has quite a few very good, very willing supports around him. I have none because the kids are so bad that they've even driven my family and friends away.

About the welfare thing. Yes, I've got some state helps, but they only go so far. And I can get emergency rent assistance to pay my back rent so we don't get evicted come December 1st, but that won't help for Nov and Dec rent. I'm actively looking for a job (have a job interview in 30 minutes, actually, and another one tomorrow), but since there is no childcare for the hours I need to work, I can't take the job. And again, family and friends won't help because they don't know how/are sick of dealing with the boys, too!

95% of this decision is to intervene on Aryc's behalf before he does something that lands him in juvie or kills someone. 4% of this decision is so that they're in a safe place where they're taken care of in ways I can't, so that I can do what I have to do to get them back when the contract's over. (Finally finish my degree so I can get a job that pays enough to meet the bills, get a job so I can keep the house and get off some of these programs (free up a space for someone else), and heal some of these emotional issues that make it so much more difficult to be a good mom to them when they're here.) And, yes, I'll be honest, 1% is because I just can't do this anymore. I'm mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted from fighting a losing battle 24/7. How can I possibly retain my patience and be the kind of mom they need if I literally have nothing left to give and just want to beat the crap out of him to get him to shut up? 90 minutes straight of screaming, fighting, and whining (all in his same breath), then another 20 minutes of slamming things around and breaking things. When those two doesn't give him what he wants or doesn't send a strong enough message to me, he turns to hurting himself, his brother, the cat...whoever he can.

And I'm sick of hearing that it's a discipline problem. Yes, maybe it is. But how am I supposed to handle that?? Time-outs are useless unless I'm allowed to duct-tape his mouth shut so he'll stop whining and screaming obscenities at me. Pulling priviledges doesn't faze him because he just goes behind me and steals back whatever I took. (Yes, even if it's in the neighbor's house... he steals my keys, sneaks in there, and takes it back.) And corporal punishment ends up with him acting more violently. The last few times I spanked him, he turned around and tried to deck me. The time before that he got mad and threw his brother down the stairs. Consequences mean NOTHING to him. So what exactly is my leverage in order to discipline him in a way that means something to him?!!?

There is nobody to come along side and play the role of dad, to mentor and guide him, in a way consistent enough to make a difference. AND he's driven away most everybody, so nobody wants that job!

So... to recap...

Their dad has changed his ways and is no longer abusive or neglectful.

He can support them emotionally and financially far better than I've been able to for the past 2 years.

He has a support system who will help him AND come alongside the boys. I do not.

He is able to redirect and consequences (pulling priviledges, primarily) mean something from him. From me, they do not and I have no way to effectively discipline Aryc.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999

I'm confused.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2005

I agree, but it could take a year or more of testing and different doctors in order to figure it out, and then many more months to get the right plan and/or meds. I don't feel we have that much time before something permanently damaging happens. It's stipulated in the contract that he provide full medical coverage, care, and accommodations for them. This testing and whatnot is part of that, and he well knows that.

And oddly enough, almost *all* symptoms disappear when they're with their dad. All of a sudden, they are just like normal kids (in attitude and behavior, leaving the autism out of it). If their dad can cut through the distracting behavior and attitude problems, he will be able to guide and help them to learn what they need to learn. I'm soooo busy *just* putting out behavior and attitude fires that I can't ever get to the root of the issue(s) or, beyond that, to the true teaching.

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