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ADHD, attachment, adoption s/o of honeymoon over

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
So, all these years on the adoption boards here and I never realized how many of us dealt with similar sounding SN situations til the other thread. As I mentioned over there, I would love to share stories, situations, strategies, impact on siblings/partners...how we function in this unknown territory. We are dealing with a dx of severe ADHD-combined type, plus insecure attachment that can be, and is, currently triggered. Probably also some sensory issues, that we are starting to investigate now that the ADHD meds have done a fantastic job towards that component. What this looks like: hyperactivity and inattention reasonably well controlled with meds (now, crazy before) but with massive meltdowns with screaming and sometimes violence that often appear random (but likely have an unknown to us attachment related trigger), irrational control-issue arguments, extreme separation anxiety with clingyness and attention seeking/demanding behaviors (ESP when brothers are around). Oh and poor, but much better now!, sleep.

So, let's share tips, experiences, strategies, and commiserate as needed! Oh, and let's be gentle with each other. It has been my experience that sometimes the best way to help with attachment stuff is counterintuitive to what I, and a "AP" parent lean towards doing. The best example I can give is that when Isaac needs to stay with others (daycare, school) and he cries, the absolute least stressful way to accomplish this is to take him in quickly, have a quick hug and kiss, and pass him off where upon he will cry horribly. I then have to leave immediately. If I stay and try reassure him, the more I do, the more hysterical he gets. The anticipation of the separation is so much worse, if I leave he will calm in seconds. I stay and he works up, it can take an hour, frequently results in a violent meltdown (hitting, screaming, throwing chairs or anything he can grab), and he cannot be calmed he has to work through it. But if I leave quickly, he can be reassured by the teacher, a quick snuggle, and he's off and fine.
post #2 of 26

In our case, my daughter has awful impulsivity.  And due to her attachment issues, the impulse is toward hurtful behavior.  She has this desire to be mean, to hit, to break the possessions of others, to dominate attention.   BUT on ADHD meds, she is able to control this impulses and be a loveable little girl.  The difference is amazing.


The worst behavior we see is when she perceives herself to be in trouble.  Then, all bets ore off.  She will smash anything she can reach and hurt anyone who is near her.  But on medication, we see almost none of this.


We started meds when my baby was born and my adopted daughter was almost four.  I started to have anxiety that she would hurt the baby.  After two close calls, we decided to try meds.


post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
How old is your dd now? Ds is 4, he started meds about 6 weeks into this school year (pre-k). We were already headed there (had done the testing, were awaiting the follow up appt and ped appt) but he was majorly triggered attachment wise when his teacher was out and there was a sub. He turned into this scared, hitting, biting, yelling. He threw whatever he could grab and hit/kicked whoever happened to be in reach, not necessarily the instigator of whatever he perceived wronged him. Drop offs , which were going pretty well, turned into nightmares. We went straight in the next day after the sub and added med 1, then 2 days later med 2. But, your story gives me hope:) medicated, he is beginning to be able to verbalize his feelings and can sometimes have just enough impulse control to walk away to calm down. While not yet in SpEd (paperwork turned in and process started), they have put tons of mods into place for him. If his teacher needs to be out, another familiar pre-k teacher moves over and her class gets the sub. He has a "love book" with pictures of all his family and friends-his supports, that he has access to all the time. he has a visual schedule and his own reward system. He has similar, but more immediate, natural consequence type consequences. He also has a safe room, as he truly needs to be left alone to calm down, and it's the only safe way to do it (for him and the other kids). His teacher and principal will email and text me he's having good days as well as when it's rough, and the principal (who is also the Sped director) greets us at the car each day, and gets him out and sits with him. She also keeps pb and bread in her office and sometimes they just have a snack together "just because". I love my boys' school, can you tell:) they are also thinking ahead to next year, and will have us meet the K teacher this spring and get pictures, so we can pre teach:). Most of the time he does great, I wish we could figure out the rest to help him better.
post #4 of 26

Carrie, it's wonderful that the school is so supportive.

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
When we moved to this city, Jimmy was just shy of 3 and transitioning to PPCD at school. We moved to this district because of how much we liked these schools when we visited them. I had emergency surgery (gallbladder) when jimmy's ARD was scheduled and after the mtg, which dh attended, several of the team members came *to my hospital room* to brief me in person. Same SpEd director/principal.

I really hope that we can get this figured out for him. The SpEd qualification is to do to OT eval, mainly, and to have the LSSP/ behavior specialists do some classroom observations. Everything else they could do, they are. But those fall under related services...
post #6 of 26

Wow Carrie, your boys go to a great school smile.gif


Dd is 7 1/2.  She still has very hard days when she acts much younger.  We were just thinking life was golden, but she had a bad morning yesterday.  But still nothing like the out of control behavior we saw before.  It has been a very long and difficult road, but we finally feel good about the direction we are headed as a family.  And all thanks to meds, I never would have though!  I guess our hard work gets some credit too smile.gif

post #7 of 26

A few other thins I have been thinking about...siblings.  This is very hard for my adopted daughter's siblings.  They are often the victim of her negative attention seeking/mean behavior.  Sometimes she is outright aggressive, but more often she "accidentally" kicks over their blocks or detroys the puzzle they are working on.  Her impulse seems to be to stop happy play.


We can never let the kids act silly.  Once silliness starts, dd will hurt someone greensad.gif


And just in general, we are exhausted and quick to get angry with all three kids.  We just have no patience left...

post #8 of 26

Nothing to add but support!  Right now we're going along okay, but it wouldn't surprise me in the future if dd was diagnosed with some extra needs.  Especially as school gets more academic.  I just want to cheer you ladies on...our oldest child has a lot of needs and difficult behaviors, and I know what a grind it can be to find *just* the right balance for your child and your family.  It's hard work.

post #9 of 26

I'm not around very much any more, but I didn't want to let your post go by without responding. Our daughter is just about 8 now.  Ages 4-5 were the WORST so far for her attachment issues coming up. She doesn't have the ADHD issues that your son has (thankfully) but we had the gamut of difficult behavior otherwise related to attachment and grief. It seemed like things would never ever get better, and we were so worn down by it all.  The most frustrating thing was that we would do all of the things that good parents are "supposed" to do, and that could be expected to work reasonably well with a typical child, and they had NO effect on her when she was stuck in this state. 


But here we are, and some fabulous therapeutic intervention later, she's doing much better. I know this probably isn't possible for you, but we were able to connect with her birth mother and travel to visit her, which also helped tremendously. And I think age helped a little bit too - she is able to express her feelings more verbally and less by destroying things, hitting, kicking, biting, etc. It's not all roses and sunshine - tonight, we were talking about our friend who's having a baby, and all of the sudden, she lost it for a bit - but she's so much happier in general.


It really helped us to name what was going on, and to not take it personally or as a comment on our parenting.  We were (and are) great parents - but we have a child with trauma/loss/grief/attachment challenges due to her early circumstances.  I wish you all the best; if I could do one thing differently, I would have tried harder to find more support for myself in real life. It was so isolating and I really felt that no one understood what we were going through.


Take good care -


post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
I wanted to drop by to let y'all know I didn't mean to disappear. We had a bit of a kitchen fire last week, and have been dealing with all that entails. Everyone is ok, but I'm basically getting a new kitchen, and we were in a hotel for several days while they decontaminated the house. Isaac was a bit triggered but seems to be doing better now that we are home. I will be back to post more later but need sleep lol oh and if you don't have a fire extinguisher, please get one. We were able to put the fire out and it saved my house.
post #11 of 26

Oh my gosh Carrie, I am so glad everyone is OK, but sorry your dealing with the stress!

post #12 of 26

This is interesting thread to me... I am impulsive, and have an attachment disorder, and adhd... and am an adult adoptee... I have been this way since childhood.

post #13 of 26

Oh no, Carrie. I've got the required fire extinguisher on the wall in case it's ever needed. I hope that things settle down for your family soon and that you get a great new kitchen.

post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
It just ate my really long post:(

We are getting back to normal here, overall. Isaac's behavior continues to not be great at school-he has hit and/or thrown stuff everyday since back at school:( fairly decent behavior at daycare and home, though.

I'm really glad some of y'all with older kids and adult adoptees have chimed in. I do find it easier to deal with having some labels and terms. Our school initially thought "bad parenting related/overly permissive" and did not bring it to the attention of the principal/sped director. Teacher was good even before then, but just didnt really "get it". All academic, not real life awareness. So being able to have terms and theories with solid backing makes me feel better. and I'm glad to know there's light at the end of the tunnel lol

Siblings-it's really hard on my other 2 boys sometimes. I feel like they have, and continue to, give-up a lot. The trade off is that they are incredibly empathetic and aware of others, and never assume a "bad motive". So if they see a kid crying at the store, they figure bad day rather than bad kid, and have even been known to volunteer to parents "my brother does that, too" lol. We do not do much out as a family-it's just too hard to be successful rather than frustrated. But, we have managed 2 movies as a family since starting the meds!!

More to say, but afraid will get munched again, so will be back later.
post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
We did an OT eval last week, and he has some sensory processing issues (as I was starting to suspect). They are common in kids with ADHD, preemies, kids with autism/on the spectrum. They all have to do with awareness of sensory info coming in, how that info is processed and interpreted. which leads to...dysregulation and difficulty maintaining self at equilibrium. So we started a brushing protocol yesterday, and a huge difference all afternoon, despite no afternoon meds and a poor (car only) nap. Fingers crossed we can maintain this, it will give him enough regulation/organization that we can begin to address the other issues in class. Next step is a full sensory diet, and specific OT skills he is delayed in. Also likely that we have some auditory (I again suspected) processing and visual processing issues going on. Difficulty with more than basic 1 step directions, difficulty choosing which item in a field to attend to and copy. Restarting multistep directions each time, rather than picking up where he left off. Difficulty orienting how to build the block towers (he followed the same patterns but it was laid down on the table instead of upright). See lots of room for class mods on these. And I am almost wondering if we need a 1-1 aid for these early years until he learns these skills. Anyway, wanted to throw out the sensory idea for those that might need it. Differing theories of etiology, but most likely an immature nervous system. perhaps due to life experiences of our kiddos-they learn to regulate themselves differently, they pull in, they "test the waters" differently. In my mind, this could easily lead to sensory stuff. Thoughts?
post #16 of 26

I think early experiences could easily lead to kids having self-regulation issues-- I've often wondered if the issues we see in dd are due to heredity, fetal environment/exposure, or just the fact of her first nine months being so far outside the norm of most babies.  It's probably some combination of all three, and the fact that (I suspect) dd is just one of those kids that was more severely affected by changes in caregivers.


My oldest ds has autism and has spent the last three years with 25 hours a week of 1-on-1 therapy.  ABA, but play-based.  It's been phenomenal for him-- I'm so glad we went for it.


Good news about the brushing!!  I hope you've found a new strategy!

post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
Day 2 was a huge success as well! Taught the school the brushing protocol, and they are on board! No meltdowns and they are looking at his behaviors from a sensory approach now. Noise and bright lights are an issue and they have been letting him wear his hoodie indoors (against school rules) as we had both independently determined it is helpful. Looking at a ball cap or sunglasses too. He will qualify for spEd under language pragmatics, and can get OT there, too. I work with the school OT -she is contract to school-and so she can collaborate with our OT that also works with me:)
ROM, can we chat about ABA sometime? I have access to a ABA program here that goes into homes, schools, TX visits to be comprehensive. Isaac has ADHD dx so would qualify (and they are trying to build up rapport with our program lol). Trying to access at the right time.
post #18 of 26

My partner is a pediatric OT, specializing in sensory integration treatment. She sees a lot of adopted kids in her practice, for what that's worth. If your son truly has sensory issues, then you will see a remarkable change once you're addressing them. The great thing is that the interventions are relatively easy, drug-free, and usually pretty fun for the kids. The clients who have the best success, according to her, are the ones who do exactly what you're doing: following through at home and school, sticking to the program, incorporating a good sensory diet. 


I'm most of all glad that you've found something to give you some hope. 

post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
So the school didn't manage to keep up with the brushing Friday, and it was a bit rough. However, we left midday to go out of town, kept it up all weekend and he did really well. Sunday morning, we went to church with them, and it was really, really hard for him, BUT he made it all the way through despite being on overload and really having to work for it. And even went out to lunch after. Really noticing how sound and light sensitive he is-he is wearing his hoody up most of the time while out and we bought him sunglasses today that he wore even inside almost until bed. we got stuck out of town due to snow, and had the opportunity to take him to Montessori preschool today (my friend is a teacher there). He did fabulous!! He sat and participated in circle time, a short presentation on guide dog etiquette ( other friend that came has a guide dog and did a quick presentation when we get to go to schools lol) AND worked for over an hour before we had to go. Calm, quiet, self-directed and regulated. Respectful of the other children and their works. Interested, curious, eager but not crazy lol He even took his hoody down for part of the morning! I wish we had a M. School here, I think the combination of focus on individualness, child directed within boundaries, and respect for others (with the calm sensory environment respectful of others) would be a great fit for him. The concrete learning that I saw in him -concepts that he has trouble with in school-made me cry. Even things that are hard, that he normally would refuse to do and/or give up on, he kept on at ( insert beaming smilie here). Isolating the skills was huge!

Diane, thanks for the encouragement:) I am finding encouragement as we untangle the pieces, and figure out how to approach everything. I talked with the principal/Sped director for a long time, and she really wants to find a way to help him succeed.

We found out he is going to qualify for sped, under pragmatics. Which will let us do an OT eval, and completely work on sensory pkg and approach to him. And the contract school OT, just happens to be my coworker, so I am going to share our Montessori experiences and observations lol.
post #20 of 26
Originally Posted by Mom31 View Post

This is interesting thread to me... I am impulsive, and have an attachment disorder, and adhd... and am an adult adoptee... I have been this way since childhood.

Hopefully this isnt too "off topic" for this thread but Mom31...can you tell me how these issues have affected your ability to parent your own children? (if they have)...i worry about my daughter's ability to mother as an adult. Esp because of her attachment issues and also because of her lack of understanding of cause/effect and her need for concrete one-step directions. Maybe some of that will improve with time. Did you get therapy for attachment disorder? (if you dont mind sharing. if you do, i understand!)

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