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ADHD and horrible behavior in public

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I need parents who understand special needs and don't have a punitive mindset to child rearing and thought this might be a good place to seek that type of input.

My son has a pdd-nos diagnosis but I'm 99.99% certain he would be diagnosed with co-morbid ADHD. The ADHD is actually, probably, more severe severe than the autism spectrum for him.

Anywhere he goes, outside the home, he becomes extremly hyperactive and impulsive.

I really don't know if it's "normal" for ADHD to get worse outside the home?? I mean he's got issues at home too but the hyperactive part is "more" outside.

I also don't know how to respond. Nothing we do--before or after events--seems to affect any change the next time. I imagine he's one of those kids who, when the adult in charge sees him walk in, they sigh that he's there. greensad.gif

He never stops moving or talking. He doesn't have volume control (I think this is more ASD). He intends to..but he can't seem to remember/control himself. Even when I'm with him reminding him he just can't seem to stop for more than the few seconds following my reminder.

He does worse things. The last time we visited my parents he took a box of clippings my mom had and threw it down the steps with glee. I just don't get him. It's like he doesn't think. Afterward he's sorry and regretful. At events he will just take off running--not even thinking about where he's going or who he might knock down. Tonight he went up to the teacher and grabbed her book and ran away apparently I could go on but you get the picture. My other child isn't like this. I really don't think it's parenting.

I have been working on him on expected behavior and controlling himself and then he gets in a situation and seems to forget it all or not have the control not to follow through on his impulses.

What does that sound like? What should I do? I'm really feeling down.
post #2 of 19

My 6 y/o was diagnosed with ADHD. Have you tried diet changes, possibly removing gluten and seeing if that makes any difference? Having a child with ADHD can be tough but it is manageable :)

post #3 of 19


we are an ADHD family. Everybody except the baby has a diagnosis - the adults are on MPH. 

I totally hear you. My DS has NO impulse control whatsoever. He sees and does without second thoughts. And his combinations and impulses are such, that most of the time you would not guess, that he would do something like THAT. (like my post when he took his globe apart to see if his finger can glow as well) 


Afterwards he feels sorry. 


What I do is trying to catch him before he does something like that. TV and computer time are extremely limited, normally we try to go outside a lot, but due to his sensory processing disorder that is not possible at this moment. I try to keep positive, I love him so much, I cry a lot because of this, I just cannot handle him at the moment. 


I looked and looked for books about ADHD kids and parenting which would not go the: Transform the difficult child line, since I HATE that approach. I found two by now: 

Parenting Your Child with ADHD: A No-Nonsense Guide for Nurturing Self-Reliance and Cooperation - I did not like the beginning statement saying practically there is no ADHD, but the parenting tips are helpful. More in line with non-violent communication and consensual living. 


The Myth of the ADHD child by Thomas Armstrong - this one does not say that there is no ADHD, even though the title sounds as if. It's full of techniques of helping your child to succeed without bending or breaking him or her. 


Sometime I am close to loosing everything though. I am trying sooo hard. And I so don't want to go the "transform the difficult child" route. But sometimes I think that maybe it is the only possibility. I am so torn. 

Yesterday I yelled at DS and yanked at his arm, because he just.would.not.stop. And he cried and was terrified. And I cried and was terrified. How can a loving mother behave like that - ever. 


Sorry for rambling, I am so into this at the moment.



post #4 of 19

My heart goes out to all of you! I mainly wanted to say that 7-9 is a particularly difficult stage for many of these kids (and their families!) I don't know why - developmental stages, expectations, whatever; it just is rough.


One reachable suggestion might be to address the sensory stuff. The Out-of-Synch Child book is a good starting point that doesn't rely on a diagnosis. My observation is that nearly every ASD and ADHD kid has sensory issues, even if they are not measured and named. An occupational therapist often can make behavioral suggestions, if that is a route available to you.


Another book I have just started is No Mind Left Behind. I haven't finished it, so I hesitate to recommend it too heartily. But so far, I really like the author's attitude of needing to teach lagging skills, rather than "consequences" - thinly disguised punishment for behaviors the kids doesn't know how to change. I am waiting for it to come in the mail - I hope it lives up to my expectations.



Hang in there - it really does get better.

post #5 of 19

Although I do not have book recommendations, I can relate to impulsive behavior.  Now that ds is 11 and on a med that inadvertently helps with the impulsive behavior, but he still does things first and thinks about it after.  I always noticed that ds struggles with out of the routine events, so things outside the home can be more difficult.  


We do prepping.  We talk him through plans when we are going out of the house and expectations.  We limit electronics in the house because it seems to wind him up.  Last year we put him swimming lessons after school and that was really good for him.  He is much more squirrelly when he does not have good ways to channel his energy.  He is taking private lessons for his cello and in orchestra at school ( has been doing this since 9 years old).  His demeanor changes so much when he is practicing/playing cello.  We try to keep a schedule.  No electronics until homework/cello practice done.  We do let him have time to play on his own, w/ dd, or w/ friends after school.  Weather allowing, I make him spend time outdoors as much as possible.  When he runs n the house, we tell him go run outside.  


I hope you start to feel better about things Sbgrace.  We also took ds to a psychologist to work on learning skills to behave appropriately and help us with some of the challenges.  It helped at school and at home.

post #6 of 19



I totally know what you mean. We've been down that path and there is nothing fun about a child losing control in public.


My ADHD/ASD son is now 8, and is so much better after a lot of nutritional (and other) intervention.


A couple of tips from what I've learned that you might find helpful are:

- stay at home if its a bad time of day (or if there's a meltdown happening) - I just cancel stuff

- plan your outings

- tell your kids where you are going and what is happening (they always love to know what the 'go' is)

- make sure they have eaten before you go out, or take substantial snacks so there's no blood sugar drops

- have a contingency plan if the proverbial hits the fan eg call Dad, or a favourite book or toy

- set boundaries and stick to them

- stay calm (this is one of the hardest methinks!)

- leave if they start melting down and can't gain control (it's not fair on them or others to stick it out)

- offer rewards for good behaviours eg marbles, stickers, game time or whatever he is into)


Hope this helps


post #7 of 19

I struggle with similar issues, too, I feel like I'm always "on" DS in public "don't do this" "watch out" etc. It helps when I make expectations known clearly beforehand--like sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store (You will stay with me and not wander off without telling me, etc.) I try to set him up for success by only attempting difficult things (the grocery store) after he's had a lot of exercise, I find it best to go to the store right after karate for example.

post #8 of 19

What you are describing sounds more like a sensory response than ADHD impulsiveness.  They are very similar and can feel the same but the triggers are very different.  I second reading "the out of sync child".  If you haven't already done so, get an OT evaluation by an OT who specializes in spectrum disorders to SPD.  You may be able to teach your child to handle sensory overload in a more socially appropriate manner if it is SPD that is causing it.

post #9 of 19

I'm going to give this one a try.  My son who has PDD-NOS could behave very appropriately at times when he was younger.  However, when he was on sensory overload (out in public) or was unaware of the expectations placed on him for behavior (novel situation...out of his routine....) he would look like he had ADHD in a similar manner to your son.  Part of the issue is certainly spectrum related.  Often there isn't carry over from one social situation to the next no matter how many times you may explain what is expected of him because there isn't an internal motivation to please.  (I hate the way that that sounds....but....I think of it as my son being deprived of the usual social pleasure others get when they please.  He doesn't see a smile or a pleasant tone or a wink of an eye)  When my guy was younger we used to break down expectations into the smallest possible piece and give rewards for each piece he did right.  Slowly but surely he did catch on but we'd take a few months to work on a few things at a time.


The part of the issue that is sensory overload was helped by the gf-cf diet.  We did OT at the time as well as social coaching and social groups but the diet made all the difference.  Within six months we could phase out all the extra services and we saw him actually learning and retaining the social information that had been so hard just a few months before.


It does get better!

post #10 of 19

I sure do understand your frustration. Have you considered the Feingold diet www.feingold.org? It sure made a difference in our house. There's also a good Yahoo group (not as good as the org. site) but a place to start: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Feingold-Program4us/

post #11 of 19
My 9 yr old is the same way. He takes things from me and hides them in his room, he's also started lying to me about things, he has physically tried to fight his father over things like getting dressed in the morning. He's on Vyvanse for severe ADHD and has been taking it since he was 5. We tried modifying his diet for a year and that didn't work at all, tried supplements before the drugs and that did nothing either. He also was diagnosed with PDD NOS and a mood disorder. His father has similar issues and is on medication as well. My middle son has a milder form of ADHD and is on Intuniv at night. Currently, the baby and I are the only ones not on medication for behavioral/psychiatric issues. Although I feel overwhelmed by it all because I never know what kind of mood anyone will be in or what will set them off. I have a hard time parenting my 9yr old because he likes to argue with me and the impulsive behavior stresses me out.
post #12 of 19

My 11 year old has autism and ADHD and diet has helped a lot with her behavior. I have to stay away from food colorings and anything with BHT in it she reacts really bad to anything with BHT in it. my whole family is on a paleo diet that has worked really well not just for my one daughter but for the whole family. 

post #13 of 19

Mom2mygirls: Since you are following a Paleo diet and may not getting these additives, this may not be an issue but I want to make sure you know that artificial food dyes and BHT are made from petroleum. If they are bothering your child, then stay away from BHA, and TBHQ - are also from petroleum. Artificial flavorings (such as vanillin) can be made from just about any chemical especially petroleum. Doing this is the Feingold Program which you can read about at www.feingold.org, website of the Feingold Association, which is a support group and continues the work of Dr. Feingold.

post #14 of 19

thank you for the information I will have to check it out.

post #15 of 19

I really don't know if it's "normal" for ADHD to get worse outside the home?


Yes.  Usually, the less familiar the environment, the worse the behavior gets.  (less structure/familiarity=more anxiety, acting out)


Nothing we do--before or after events--seems to affect any change the next time.


Makes sense.  One of the primary issues with ADHD is the inability to learn from previous situations/behaviors/events.  This has to do with executive functioning (or rather the lack thereof).  This is something you can expect most of the time.


He seems to forget it all or not have the control not to follow through on his impulses.

That's basically what's happening...ADHD makes it really hard to control your impulses.

Just wanted to let you know, it's all "normal" stuff for ADHD. 

post #16 of 19

Sounds like a lot of sensory processing stuff going on... (we have one too, age 6). Read the book Out of Sync Child... I read it talking to myself... "OMG, this is him, and this,,, and this!" It explaines why they do all of these things... I began to not take his behaviors so personally and it led us in areas that began our treck back to a normal life. He is at this moment sitting on the couch watching Veggie Tales, not jumping and destroying anything... it gets better everyday.

The key is joint compressions, brushing and extreme movements... I hired a teen to take him to the park 8 hours a week (on top of our normal family fun out times) and have him do the movements the OT encourages; swinging, crawlng, sliding down the slide head first, jumping, running.... we have the brain gym book and those movements halp a lot too....  wear him out!!!


It is NOT a result of your parenting... he has a need for movement!


I would love to know how it works for you!

post #17 of 19

"I just don't get him. It's like he doesn't think. Afterward he's sorry and regretful. At events he will just take off running--not even thinking about where he's going or who he might knock down. Tonight he went up to the teacher and grabbed her book and ran away apparently I could go on but you get the picture. My other child isn't like this. I really don't think it's parenting."


The above part of your post really got me - this is us also in many ways. I also thought and was made to feel that my son's ADD/Anxiety (and possible PDD) was caused by my parenting, my side of the family, something I did etc. Teachers, principal and others all seemed to be whispering as I walked away that all my son needed was some discipline (or that is how I felt ). Once I stopped feeling guilty and worried about what others thought it made me more relaxed and able to deal with him as hard as it may be.


You are doing all you can so just hang in there. Everyone has given great advice and we have tried many of these suggestions and things have improved for us. It will never be as easy as with my other 2 children. It is just different and I realized that we will just need to change and adjust to as he grows. 

post #18 of 19

we have this problem as well, and the stranger the environment, the bigger the problem.  Here are a couple of things we do:

1.  Prepping - it does not always work, but we prep before we go everywhere.  We have established a set of behaviors, "Museum behavior," home behavior, school behavior, playground behavior.  We go over where we are going, and what behavior I expect, and then just reiterate.  It was hard as he was learning, but now he can tell you what is expected (even if he does not always follow through.

2.  Get out the crazies - especially if we had a long drive, and then I expect him to behave, I will have him run the stairs, run up and down the sidewalk, or just shake the sillies out.  The few minutes of focused physical activities helps him focus himself.

3.  Make sure we have food - Hunger is an emotion with my DS, and he is impossible to control once he gets hungry, so I always have snacks.

4.  Stop if we start to lose control - if I see the behaviors or impulsivity creeping in, we stop and try some physical activity, or just get away from the chaos.

5.  manipulatives - I give him something to manipulate in his  hands to distract him (slinky, playdoh, cars, slime)

6.  We talk through the choices - if he does something wrong.  We take a time out, discuss what happened and what led to the event and what he could have done instead.  This is not an instant fix, but over time I have seen him start using strategies.

post #19 of 19

I have to laugh a sigh of relief reading all these post knowing that I'm Not alone. We have a 6yr old with ASD and boy the behavior is on when we are in public, anytime we visit the library we must make sure we clear an entire bookshelf in one swoop, this happens everytime, same bookshelf, its time to swtich libraries, oh and trying to get the cashiers phone/scanner at the grocery store is a favorite. Believe me this is not something you can discipline, don't think its your parenting its not.


I don;t have much advice, as we are still trying to find something that works for him to be able to gain some self control. We are looking at the how does your engine run program, basically its a scale and a process teaching your child where his behavior (engine) is. and providing them tools to calm and create focus, they have the books n Amazon and I borrowed them from the library. it sounds like a process but we are going to give it a try - or just not go in public for the next decade.

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