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#1 of 12 Old 02-28-2014, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My oldest child has had behavior and developmental issues since he was about 18 months old. His doctors assured me it was just a phase and he'd outgrow it and things would get easier. I believed them only to realize that they were terribly mistaken.

A little history: I can't help but look back to try and determine the cause as to why my son may be this way. When I was pregnant I could barely eat or drink anything for the first 5 months without throwing it up. This caused me to be extremely fatigued and when I would get up I would get dizzy and one time even passed out. When my son was born he was blue but the doctor said this was normal. I was also very uneducated when I had him and believed friends and family who advised CIO was beneficial and that holding my baby too much or responding to his every cry would spoil him. When my son was about a year old, he tested a bit high on the routine lead test so his doctor referred him to Early Intervention. At the evaluation they noticed right away that my son does indeed have some developmental delays and so they diagnosed him with a speech delay and began therapy services. The therapist also noted behavior issues and tried incorporating it with the therapy but because he was so young, his therapists and doctors truly believed it was just an exaggerated terrible two's phase. When he turned 3 in-home services were no longer provided and at the next evaluation prescribed 2 30 minute-long sessions per week at a designated location about 20 minutes away from where we lived. We had no car at that time and we didn't believe these sessions would be of much benefit to our son so I used what I learned from the therapist that used to come to our home and worked with my son myself.

Fast forward: Now my son is 7 years old and in the 1st grade. He still has these delays and behavior issues and began in-school therapy and learning support towards the end of his Kindergarten year. According to the school compared to other kids his age, he is behind but progressing and in about 2 weeks we have a meeting to set up new goals on his IEP since he has passed the ones from last year.

A few months ago we began outside therapy where it was brought to my attention that my son is experiencing proprioceptive sensory issues. I was surprised because I thought the school would have said something about it but after being involved with these new therapists I realized my son's school -that is supposed to be one of the best- hasn't been very helpful or informing at all. In fact, when my son seemed to be having problems with other students, I was made to believe that he was to blame when, it turns out, he was just defending himself. I lost a lot of respect for his teachers and aids but it turned into a blessing because now I know to go to my son about things like this and that I can usually trust him to tell me the truth. These new therapist have been giving me tons of information and encouraging me to try out new ideas every week. Anyways, lately my son comes home from school and everything just turns into chaos. He is fine for the most part in the morning but when he comes home he talks back to everything anyone says, is physically aggressive with his siblings and sometimes even me, and screams and cries when he doesn't get everything he wants. He had his outside therapy yesterday and for the first time someone, being his OT therapist, acknowledged my son's behavior. She said "today we had some safety issues and my heart goes out to you because I can see how his behavior can interfere with regular life activities". I could have hugged her but didn't want to weird her out. She went to say that she also believes that my son "can not control it". For some reason I felt immense relief with this and thanked her from the bottom of my heart. After we got home and the kids went to bed, I hopped in a nice warm bath and cried.

 

Sometimes, which is becoming more frequently, I feel like I can't do it much longer. I feel like I have been patient and instead of things getting easier, they are becoming more difficult. I love my son very, VERY much and that is what keeps me going. I feel guilty for feeling so angry and frustrated with his behavior most of the time. I feel guilty that I can take my other children for walks, to the park, to the library, and certain special event, or even just go to the store but I can't take him because he is accident-prone and puts himself in danger. I am beginning to believe that he might benefit from medication which I was strictly against since seeing the ill-effects it had on my 17 year old estranged cousin who regularly overdoses himself with his ADHD medication (my mother associates with that family regularly so that is how I know). I am trying to find a neurologist or pediatric developmental specialist to try and find a diagnosis but I fear being pressured into medication. I just want what is best for my son and to be able to do all the things I do with my other children that I currently plan around him being at school. I am also at odds with figuring out if my son is just being a 7 year old, like my great aunt says, or if that is just his personality, if he just is backed up from not being able to get the proprioceptive sensory input I am just learning about, or if he really does need help.

 

So what do I need help with?

-What do you wise Mothering mama's believe would be the best way to have my son evaluated; Through a neurologist, pediatric developmental specialist, or psychologist? All three have been suggested but I'd like to START somewhere. It is overwhelming.

-Are there any child-safe herbs for children that I might be able to look into before medication

-Any kind of support, advice or suggestions. I am open to anything and would be very appreciative

-Any suggestions for me on how to keep calm and reduce stress and frustration

-We are beginning deep breathing and meditation to help my son, how can I make it easier for him and enhance success

 

                                                                       Thanks in advance!

 

*Cross-posted on Gentle Discipline forum. I didn't realize I should have posted this here first. Sorry.*


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#2 of 12 Old 02-28-2014, 12:45 PM
 
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I don't think you should look for causes. Unless the cause will help your child now, all it will do is make you feel guilty and take attention from the present. Give yourself time to grieve the choices you made that you now regret, but don't wallow in them. I know how hard it is to look back and know that you took horrible advice that may have hurt your child, and I also know how easy it is to let guilt eat at you and distract you from being in the present- where your child needs you.

 

For the after school problems, this is very common. Not to the level you're facing, of course, but it's quite common for kids to have behavior problems when they get home from school. It's actually called "arsenic hour" by some. This is true for children regardless of their development or needs level. This is in part due to hunger and tiredness (so offering your son snacks when he gets home is a good idea), but also, kids often feel disconnected from their parents and so they act out due to feeling alone. It's also common for younger children who don't know how to handle stress to just let all the day's stresses build up, then have them come pouring out when they see their parents, which is probably what's going on with your son. Here's an article about Surviving Arsenic Hour: http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/family-life/Arsenic-Hour  I hope it has some advice that will help you.

 

I don't have any more specific advice, but I hope that that does help some. It sounds like you haven't been able to get the proper help you've needed, but that the OT therapist he has now may be what he needs. Hopefully this will help with his problems. I'm sure that the school situation is part of why things are worse- getting blamed for defending yourself can be very hurtful and upsetting for average kids, even more so for special needs kids.

 

I have no idea if this will help or not, but this page talks about specific ways to give proprioreceptive sensory input and also gives advice about using food to either help your child calm down or become more alert. http://www.webot4kids.com/7.html  I would look into whether or not any diets may help- both elimination diets and if he needs more of certain nutrients. Diet changes can have really amazing effects.

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#3 of 12 Old 02-28-2014, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. Your comment was very helpful and I am looking into those links right now. I didn't even know that this is normal to any extent so thanks for bringing that up too. 


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#4 of 12 Old 03-01-2014, 11:07 AM
 
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Hi! I'm not a parent but I am a behavior specialist with many years of experience teaching children with and training parents of kids with developmental issues.

I will answer a few of your questions:

What do you wise Mothering mama's believe would be the best way to have my son evaluated; Through a neurologist, pediatric developmental specialist, or psychologist? All three have been suggested but I'd like to START somewhere. It is overwhelming.

I would start by talking to your insurance company and finding out what might be covered because these can get expensive. Then I would look to a pediatric developmental specialist first.

-Are there any child-safe herbs for children that I might be able to look into before medication

As a behaviorist, although I believe in the power of good nutrition and the importance of making sure the body and brain are comfortable, I would not recommend trying herbs instead of researched methods for helping your son develop new communication and social skills. I support some dietary changes to complement other therapies but not as a cure or replacement. One problem I see with that is that many parents are searching for some simple way to help their children - if they have a simple nutritional deficit, maybe their problems will go away? But this often leads to years of trying one thing after another and spending time and money on that when it could be used for therapies that we know help. So sure, try GFCF, or make sure you child has enough probiotics so that he can digest nutrients properly and isn't having tummy pain, but then also seek regular ABA therapy with a reputable, kid, caring professional who will meet your son where he is developmentally, and teach him the skills he needs to be happy and successful in small steps.

-Any kind of support, advice or suggestions. I am open to anything and would be very appreciative

-I'm so glad you have found some professionals who understand your son and are good communicators. Take advantage of that to develop rapport with them and ask them questions. We love it when parents take an active role in their child's therapy and development and it's so great when parents want to learn as much as possible about their kids.

-Any suggestions for me on how to keep calm and reduce stress and frustration

The calmer and more neutral you can remain about his behavior, especially when you are stressed and frustrated, the better. Parents often inadvertantly reinforce their children's inappropriate behavior by giving them attention that feeds it. For example, I have a student who gets overwhelmed and starts to lash out and says mean things to his mom. I told her that she should not say things like, "That's not nice. Don't say that." Act like he's not doing it and redirect him towards appropriate behavior and respond to that. When kids see that their inappropriate behavior routinely gets no attention from parents, and their appropriate behavior gets a lot of positive attention from parents, they will be motivated to do the positive behaviors. This isn't an overnight process, and you do have to teach the appropriate behaviors while ignoring the inappropriate ones. But it works.

As for you, make sure you take time for yourself to have quiet moments throughout the day and evening. Make some routines with your children that are calm and enjoyable so you can look forward to that. And reward yourself for staying calm when your child needs your most neutral support. Remember that you are a model for all of your children, and you can use the same process and techniques on yourself as you would for him - staying calm and trying your best during adverse situations and then rewarding yourself afterwards. He should do the same with your help!

-We are beginning deep breathing and meditation to help my son, how can I make it easier for him and enhance success

I love doing yoga and different types of breathing with my students, and they love it too. I find that the more regularly we move our bodies in controlled ways and the more often we use the self-calming techniques when we are not upset, the calmer we are in general, and the easier it is for us to help the children use them when they are upset. I make sure that when a child is upset and needs to use self-caming techniques, I do them with them, so they have a model every time until they begin to spontaneously use the techniques. I think most people like to know that when they are upset, someone else sees that and will support them in calming down. So I always deep breath with the kids. There is a wonderful set of yoga cards you might love called Yoga Pretzels, They have lots of deep breaths and yoga poses with great step-by-step illustrations for kids. All of my students love them.

And lastly, I have to run some errands but give yourself a big hug and thumbs up for looking for advice and trying to do the best for your child. That's a huge step no matter where it leads you.
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#5 of 12 Old 03-03-2014, 05:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks you Pikkumyy. Yes, his insurance covers all 3 if need-be so that is one less thing I have to worry about. I know there aren't any herbs that will teach my child social or communicative skills and that only therapy can help him with that, I was leaning more towards calming herbs to help combat hyperactivity to increase his attentiveness at sessions. I should have said that, my apologies. I appreciate your advice and suggestions very much and am glad I finally have an idea of where to begin with seeking a more detailed evaluation for him. Thanks!


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#6 of 12 Old 03-03-2014, 11:08 AM
 
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Hi, I also wanted to add that you can contact his case manager/special education teach to establish a behavior plan component to his IEP. If his behaviors are interferring with his ability to learn and thrive in the classroom, this plan may be of a benefit to him. 

 

I taught Special Education before I had children of my own. Only one of my students required a Behavior Plan, and I remembered how discouraged and defeated his mama was. But you know what, it worked!! He was four years old, and I made him a book showing him what good behavior looks like. We spent a few hours taking his photo  in various places around the school being "good" (i.e. sitting properly, smiling, working, etc..). I printed them out and created a little book and I spent 5 minutes alone with him at the start of each class day reading it. We also made a pictorial sign detailing step-by-step what his consequences were for specific behaviors. A good SLP has the needed software to create something specific for your son. I am not suggesting a book is the answer, but a good visual reminder of what-to-do-when can really assist him in self-regulation. 

 

Hugs to you. 

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#7 of 12 Old 03-04-2014, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DuchessTergie, that is a wonderful idea! See, I just recently began deep breathing with him and having him meditate about appropriate behavior, kind of like affirmations. It is really helping us connect, although we still have a long way to go, and it isn't 100% but is is definitely helping him... and me. I think a book or even a poster would be a great thing for him. On friday we have his IEP meeting and then on the 13th we have conferences so I will talk with everyone involved about the idea and seeing if we can come up with some kind of plan and goal to help his behavior. Thanks! You all have been SO helpful. Please keep the suggestions coming! 


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#8 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 10:52 AM
 
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I don't know how often you check this forum, but I hope things have been improving for your little one. Also, I thought of using a so-called Calm Jar as a tool. I use one for DD1 and it has been very helpful in regulating her emotions, and even in slowing down my own reaction time. There are tons of tutorials on Pinterest. 

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#9 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 04:10 PM
 
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I don't have time to write much, but wanted to second the developmental pediatrician as the place to start.  The other two are much more limited in what they can diagnose (and what they are familiar with) but a good dev ped should be able to look at everything on the table - medical, psychological, developmental.  I think its important to make sure someone is looking at medical stuff because it should always be ruled out first.

 

I hope you get things sorted out.  The best thing I ever did with our son was to assemble a team of therapists, doctors, and teachers, that I trusted (and it took TIME! and effort).  Now I feel like i've got a group of people helping me make sure I'm on the right track.

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#10 of 12 Old 04-06-2014, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks fizgig!


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#11 of 12 Old 04-07-2014, 03:01 PM
 
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I just wanted to suggest that you do your own research on the potential benefits of ADHD medication before rejecting it based on the one example of your cousin. There has recently been some pretty good research showing that appropriately prescribed ADHD meds (the right med, at the right level) actually reduces the tendency for some ADHD persons to self-medicate with prescription drugs, other drugs, alcohol, etc. It can be hard because once we've seen a bad example like that it seems very real and powerful, but one person isn't necessarily representative of the norm. 

 

FWIW my experience with special needs services at public school is that it's better than nothing, but private evaluations and services are almost always more thorough and reliable. And also, possibly on account of how public school employees are often paid really badly compared to private employees in similar positions, you will find a mix of good practitioners who are there because they love what they do, and mediocre-to-bad ones who are there because they couldn't make it in private practice. 


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#12 of 12 Old 04-08-2014, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Aufilia, I agree its just with my son only being 7 years old, it kind of makes we wonder whether or not that is just his personality and we adults are trying to "constrain" him in a way or if he is just too immature. I just feel like he can't be that bad especially knowing that it is completely normal for kids to break down after school and since we have began deep breathing, hugging when in distress (to keep me from becoming frustrated with his back talk and physical aggression too), and stretching and mindfulness, things have become ALMOST manageable. Though I will take your advice on researching medications for ADHD further than what I already have. I appreciate all the advice, I really do, and want yous all to know how helpful yous have been. Thanks. I lok forward to more advice as with this you can never have enough. 


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