Please help me--explosive child - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 01-13-2008, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am so far past my wits' end I can't think of an appropriate cliche to describe it.

DS (5) is making life for our family a living hell. I know, it's a story that's been told many times, but here's the twist--he's only a problem with us, at home. To an extreme. He has never been a problem at school, never at friends houses, and only rarely at Grandma's house. He comes home from school and within thirty seconds of dropping his backpack, he's crying about something. The crying/melting down continues until bedtime, which is a long battle, then he goes to sleep, wakes up in a state of meltdown, leaves the house and is a perfect angel outside the home, then looses it again the second we walk through the door of the house. Over the winter break, he had a cousin his age staying at Grandma's house, so he had a playdate 24/7. I was terrified, thought it would be a living hell and it would completely overwhelm him, but it was the opposite: he was an absolute gem the entire time, and we hardly ever saw him. He told us himself yesterday that he's only happy when he's at school or friends' houses. It's almost as if he's come to associate us/this house with the place where he melts down, so he's come to dread it.

His meltdowns are almost never tantrums, and he is never aggressive or manipulative. He's simply miserable here, with us. He says over and over that he's "getting out of control" and he doesn't know why, and nothing is ever right--when he's hungry, no food will satiate, when he is getting dressed, no clothes feel right, when he wants to play a game, no game is the right choice. And screaming and body throwing ensues. Unless, of course, he's at school or someone else's house, in which case he is happy as a little clam and I can't even believe my eyes.

He's been in OT for three years for sensory issues, play therapy for anxiety, and we're in the middle of neuro-psychological testing to see what else might be going on. Our dev. ped. said that ADHD is not a possibility because he wouldn't be able to contextualize his behavior like this (it seems pretty classic at home). We've tried Zoloft (bad reaction), Celexa (worked for a time and the stopped) and he's been on Risperdal for a year.

Anyone have ideas? We are so miserable in this house. My two DDs are completely paying the price for this, and I feel like I've spent all my spare energy for years now trying to figure out what's gone wrong. I am becoming convinced that despite all common sense, despite that fact that we have an extremely fun and loving home, despite two happy sisters, maybe it really is us. Maybe it's not possible to make him happy. And then what do I do with that? :
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#2 of 12 Old 01-13-2008, 05:14 PM
 
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I read the book The Explosive Child and took a class based on it. It was really helpful..

It helped us break the cycle of meltdowns and fights and power struggles. It was hard at first, but we stuck with the suggestions of the book and it really did help our son and us cope with eachother.

*hugs*

Perhaps this happens at home because he feels it is the only place he can let his guard down enough to show how he feels? Also, with my son, when his sensory cup gets full.. things.. little things.. set him off. Knowing the signs of the impending full cup and how to reset him really helped lessen the meltdowns about clothes, food, games, life..

I wish I had other suggestions...We just finished 3 month of neurological testing.. the results were interesting, pegged the problems DS has and hopefully will steer us in a direction to better help him. We will be looking into biofeedback, sensory gym therapy and possible hippotherapy...
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#3 of 12 Old 01-13-2008, 08:39 PM
 
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I also highly recommend The Explosive Child. This approach and way of understanding our child has helped us so very much. I also did take a couple of workshops with the author and his colleague, which were enormously helpful.

For an overview of what the book is all about visit www.thinkkids.org. They also have web-based seminars at http://www.ccps.info/training/index.html which are good (probably best after you've read the book).
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#4 of 12 Old 01-13-2008, 08:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you both--I have read The Explosive Child and watched the DVD quite a bit. It is very helpful, and has done a lot for us--but it is still a full time job, and it doesn't seem to have lessened the intensity of his meltdowns. That said, we have slacked off the last few months, and should really re-commit ourselves to the approach. So thanks for the reminder.

My biggest concern is the issue of his two selves: the home DS and away DS, and the fact that the away DS really does seem to be a wonderful, happy child. Why can't we have that child? Why does everyone else get him all the time and I only see glimpses of it from afar?! I know, I know--we're the safe place. But I'm starting to question that. It's hard not to feel like it somehow means that I am the problem.
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#5 of 12 Old 01-13-2008, 09:35 PM
 
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I don't mean to scare you.. but I have been reading alot on bipolar disorder in children.. and a characteristic is a child who is an angel outside of home (ie at school) and explosive at home.
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#6 of 12 Old 01-13-2008, 10:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Bookmama View Post
My biggest concern is the issue of his two selves: the home DS and away DS, and the fact that the away DS really does seem to be a wonderful, happy child. Why can't we have that child? Why does everyone else get him all the time and I only see glimpses of it from afar?! I know, I know--we're the safe place. But I'm starting to question that. It's hard not to feel like it somehow means that I am the problem.
I think this is actually very common. My challenging dd is the same way. Home is where we are loved unconditionally. We can freak out and be at our worst, and not be rejected. At school or friend's homes, if we act out we run the risk of being embarrassed and the risk of being rejected. I don't think it's necessarily more complicated than that. And it in no way means that you are the problem. All of us adults put on our best faces outside the home, whether that's at work or our kids' schools or volunteering or whatever, and our worst comes out at home-home is where we let it all hang out generally. That's human nature. But, that is small comfort when you're the one at home dealing with difficult behaviors.

We have found that our dd needs other things in addition to the collaborative problem solving approach. (First, though, the Explosive Child approach is one that does take time. It's not a "quick results" type of intervention.) We've found that we've had to also work with our dd on learning to cope with emotions, on finding words to describe her emotions, on communicating her thoughts. We've had to help her get more, better quality, sleep (better sleep schedule, light therapy, physical activity). We've had to adjust nutrition. We've had to help her learn to cope with anxiety (which was not obvious to us for a long time), and we've had to help her with relaxation skills. Karate has been very therapeutic. We've had to shop around for new psychologists. It's a lot of trial and error, a lot of research, a lot of experimentation. It's like putting together a complicated jigsaw puzzle.

I don't know what all you've tried and read, I'm sure you've tried a lot. I have found Raising A Thinking Child to be helpful also, along with Sleepless In America. And several dozen other books.

It is hard. It's a long road. But there is hope. I think the neuropsych exam is a good idea and I hope it helps you.
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#7 of 12 Old 01-14-2008, 10:29 AM
 
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I think something else to keep in mind is that when he is out the sensory stimulation is building and building and building and then finally when he is in a safe place (home), he can blast out all of the stress that he's unconsciously been shoving down all day long. Do you have a sense of a routine/structure at home for him? That can be stressful for some kiddos, too, the not knowing what comes next and fear of being bored is a huge meltdown creator for some. You might want to try to limit his going out for a month or so to see if it helps his nervous system to begin to calm and relax, keeping him in the same routine every day as you are able.
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#8 of 12 Old 01-14-2008, 10:32 AM
 
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Bookmama, I'm so sorry you are still having a hard time with DS.
I hope you find some answers/help soon.

I do agree with the "safe at home" issue, and I know that doesn't really help you any, but I can't believe it's *you*.

I know this is probably a long shot, and you very well have explored it, but are there any possible allergens?
We had thought we had DS' under controll at one point and it turned out he had developed more, and I was just so busy with everything else, therapies, LIFE, that I didn't think about it.
Just a thought, not that it would/could be the only cause by any means, just a piece to the puzzle...

We are having continued explosive episodes w/ DS here too, but BIG time at school. Am thinking I may have to move him

Our behavioral health case manager finally got us a behavioral modification therapist, we meet this week, so we'll see.
Tried this years ago, and the therapist just really sucked, hopefully this guys' better. He'll come to home AND school.
Is this something you have tried?

Well, sorry I can't really help more...just wanted to say 's
I know how tough it is!
Take Care
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#9 of 12 Old 01-14-2008, 10:38 AM
 
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Ditto on it being quite common that they are angels outside the home and devilish at home. It may be a characteristic of bipolar, but it is also common with lots of kids.

It's not easy though!!
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#10 of 12 Old 01-14-2008, 10:54 AM
 
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Ditto on it being quite common that they are angels outside the home and devilish at home. It may be a characteristic of bipolar, but it is also common with lots of kids.

It's not easy though!!
Yes, very true.. and I didn't mention it to imply that this was the case.. but that it was just something that had come up, which surprised me.. as I wouldn't have thought of this aspect for any child.. Again, I didn't mean to imply that this was a diagnosis for this case.
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#11 of 12 Old 01-14-2008, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, you guys. I needed to hear all of this. What Fluttermama said is so exactly right on for my DS--he is terrified of any "down time." The idea of being bored scares him. If he isn't really engaged with another human being 100% of the time, he looses it. I know this is anxiety related. When he's at school, he's got three teachers and a room full of friends--always someone to engage with, no time to get bored. Ditto at friends' homes or when friends are over here. But the reality is I can't give him that all the time every second we are at home, with two other children to care for, etc. Ugh.

The sensory component is probably bigger than I'm giving it credit for, too. Our OT suggested that this week, also, that perhaps although he is amazingly successful at school and loves it, he isn't getting the sensory diet he needs throughout the day and by the time he gets home he is just a massive sensory seeker. I think I'll have the OT visit the school one day next week and make some recommendations to his teachers on how to incorporate more of his sensory needs into the school day (thank goodness his teachers are really open to this).

Thanks again!!!
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#12 of 12 Old 01-16-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sledg View Post
I think this is actually very common. My challenging dd is the same way. Home is where we are loved unconditionally. We can freak out and be at our worst, and not be rejected. At school or friend's homes, if we act out we run the risk of being embarrassed and the risk of being rejected. I don't think it's necessarily more complicated than that.

I agree with SLEDG's thoughts above. My DS is 4.5 and has a speech delay. He's intense, explosive and anxious and although accessed by both a developmental ped and a child psychiatrist, has no other diagnosis.

But like you described, he really can make our household hellish.

I actually am struggling tonight with heart palpitations and stress symptoms caused by my son's horrible horrible HORRIBLE breakdown at a grocery this afternoon.

We (DH and I) have so many struggles and although we've sought professional help and I've read The Explosive Child, we still struggle with behaviour like you describe.

And just like your child, our son is apparently somewhat "normal" at school and has little to no breakdowns at school.

I really think sledg is right. Even though I wasn't an intense child, I always knew I could "let down my guard" with my mom. I still do - open up emotionally with her or my husband in ways that I wouldnt' with other people.

And then my intense dear son - I suspect after a morning of JK he just explodes with emotions and pent-up issues once he sees "Mom" and is home.

It's so frustrating and challenging. I had such a stressful afternoon with DS ... no advice to add ... just wanted to say you're not alone.

My Sister-in-law incidentally is bi-polar and she developed this disorder in her 30s but as a child - she was intense at home and in public - and still is!
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