Edited by MammaB21 - 10/4/13 at 7:57am
I would call a children's hospital instead. I think you are looking at issues beyond the scope of early intervention run by the state or schools. Its hard to say what is going on, but the reckless out of control behavior coupled with obsession with death is indicative of bipolar disorder. His behavior is truly dangerous to himself and to his sister and he needs help, and you need help and support. This is way beyond time outs. If you have a children's hospital with a psychiatric department, I would call and talk to their intake or triage person. Tell them everything you just told us. Have you told your pediatrician? He/she might be able to make a referral and speed up the evaluation process, especially because this is a child who is endangering himself and others on a daily basis. I know its scary to consider a hospital setting but we found our best diagnostic evaluation and treatment for my oldest who has a complex diagnosis of aspergers, adhd, anxiety and bipolar in a hospital setting. The other evaluations done by EI, developmental ped, and child psychiatrists cannot compare in depth and scope to the team of psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors that worked with our family at the pediatric psychiatric unit.
I'd suggest you take a deep breath and try with the help of a trusted friend or counselor, to take a look at the level of intensity that may or may not exist in your household. I suspect that there is more going on here and it may be hard to talk about or look at.
I know that a child like your son would be incredibly taxing. His need for safety, structure, routine, healthy food and a very calm nurturing environment would tax any parent. I have a special needs child of my own and I know how MUCH energy it has taken over the years to raise him. I have put much of my own life on hold to do it. With or without medication, and with or without a hospitalization, you'll need to make changes around him to help him stabilize.
While I sympathize with you, I have had to work very hard to control my own reactivity and stay calm in the face of his anger. You may be somewhere in the process of figuring out how to do this. It can't be easy for you. I know from my own experience how hard this is.
But, his expression of anger is partly developmental. Your son feels intensely and hasn't learned empathy yet. No child his age has empathy down pat and often children with special needs do feel more intensely then the rest of us. He is looking for a reaction to help himself organize around it. That's why he seems calmer after the times you've spanked him.
While you must have felt terribly guilty afterward, he craves "clear" input, which helped him calm down to see his behavior. You yourself need help to teach you how to give him that kind of clear input every day without, of course, needing to spank. This isn't consequences or punishment that i'm talking about. It's routines, structure, constancy and clear emotional reactions to behavior that will never deviate from day to day. This kind of structure is hard work for a parent to provide and not always easy to master in the moment because of our own "reactivity" to such high intensity. Believe me, again, I KNOW from my own experience that this is hard. That his rage rises so high and he wants to hurt others is of course troubling. I would never minimize it.
So my questions are, who else is incredibly angry around him that's fueling his intensity? At what? Can that anger be taken out of the house, into therapy sessions? Can you and his father be taking care of yourselves better? Then, apart from this, what could your son himself be upset about? Is he trying to get someone's attention? Does he spend any time with his Dad? Does he see you fighting with his father? Is he left alone with anyone that could be hurting him?
Then, you want to figure out how to help yourself parent him better. Do you want to get your own therapist to teach you how to parent a child with likely multiple special needs. :( It's hard momma, I know. Absolutely, there are diagnoses that will need to be fleshed out. If you can wait for early intervention that would be ideal because hospitalizing a 3 year old would be very traumatic. Having early intervention is absolutely a good thing. Ask them for a host of evaluations, OT, ST, PT as well as a developmental evaluation from an MD or a psychologist. Then you will also have many supports around you and more eyes to help you sort out what's going on.
I feel so much for you going through this. You must be exhausted, constantly in "defense mode" and not getting much peace in your life at all.
I agree with many of the other mamas (many of us have a lot of experience parenting and working with children) that these behaviors, as you describe them are not in the "average" of what boys his age (or any age) are normally displaying. The harming of animals, lack of empathy, urinating on dogs, smearing feces, and wanton destruction is really causing me a lot of concern for you, your son and the rest of your family.
If I had a friend whose child was displaying these signs, I would calming but firmly ask her if I could either drive her and DS to the Emergency Department of the closest hospital or if she wanted me to watch her little girl so she could call her partner and they could take him to the ED immediately. I've been a Mama for 27 years, I have children who are "neuro-atypical" I've worked with At Risk children in college and after and I am seeing so many red flags in this behavior that for his safety, the safety of the rest of the family and for everyone's mental health I would get him emergency help: Today, not tomorrow, not next week, now, today.
I, personally agree with earthmama4 that these displays of behavior are beyond what most Early Intervention Specialists can most likely deal with. I've worked with children like this in the past (at both schools and hospitals for exceptional children) and what these children and their families need is immediate intake, diagnosis, treatment and understanding from caring professionals backed by a caring family.
My fears are many fold: His harming himself, his harming your daughter, his harming YOU or your partner, his harming any animals and most of all this issue continuing unaddressed and possibly ending in disaster and grief for all. If he stabs someone, or kills an animal or.... you may be spending the rest of your life thinking "If only I had taken him to the ER the day before...." I'm sure this is very hard to deal with and may well be a neurological issue that he has absolutely NO control of himself. (Which is even more reason to get him emergency help right away.) However, that does not mean it should go unaddressed. For his emotional, physical and psychic well being and for yours and your family's please get this child emergency help right away.
I can't imagine the world your daughter is living in, where she actually lives in fear of her brother. There are no "normal stages" where children are afraid of their siblings or parents are afraid of their children.
I am so sorry you are having to live through this, but as a parent of children with very different neurological issues, that we addressed as soon as we realized something was amiss, I can tell you every day that you wait you may later wish you had taken advantage of that time and done an emergency room visit sooner.
Blessings to you, your family and your son and daughter. I hope your family can soon get some answers and professional help and find some peace as soon as possible.