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Really long! I apologize profusely in advance!
I posted on another message board recently asking for advice about my 2 stepkids- 7 year old boy and 6 year old girl. I got a lot of unneccesary bashing so I'm hoping this page will be different. We have been having some issues with their behavior at home and the girl's at school. We started the ADHD evaluation on the girl a few weeks ago. Her teacher and her father and I filled out the snap forms and I returned them to the dr last week. He looked at them and said that the signs are pointing to ADHD so lets get everyone in to talk about what to do next. He wants to make sure there isn't anything else psychological going on before he starts any meds that may mask it. We have an appointment on Thursday morning.
So obviously I'm concerned about all of this with her so I started doing further research and as I read more about symptoms I'm getting more concerned about her brother too. The girl shows a lot of the symptoms of Inattention but not really any of the hyperactivity symptoms. The boy shows a lot of hyperactive and impulsive symptoms but his focus is generally there for the most part. Since we've started the process on her, I'm writing about him to see what everyone's opinions are on him to see if we should start evaluating him too?
I've really started noticing these things in the last few months, but some of them can go back as far I can remember. For awhile I just dismissed them thinking he was just a really energetic little boy. But now I'm concerned that it may be effecting his schoolwork more than we may realize. He's a little below average in a couple subjects (math and especially reading) but does quite well in science and social studies. His teacher is watching him closely bc he's been showing signs of dyslexia (which his biological mom has) as well. His behavior is definitely being affected by these symptoms at home though! And he's a really good kid! They both are, but he has usually stood out more than his sister. He's always been very sweet and had good manners the way his father raised him. They both were slipping on their manners for awhile but we've gotten that back on track.*
My real concern is the total inability to sit still when instructed to. There are times to play and run around then there are times to settle down, sit still and be quiet. Sitting still at the dinner table is impossible. He quickly finishes eating before everyone then he's constantly getting up and will stand right next to me or his father asking questions or talking even though we keep telling him to sit back down in his chair.*
Another difficult time for him is quiet time at the end of the night. After dinner I like to give them a little play/movie time in the living room and kind of wind down before bath and bed. He absolutely can not sit still. He's not bouncing off the walls like a "monster child" but he's not quiet either. He's buzzing around the room driving his toy cars all over the floor, furniture, through the air. We keep telling him to settle down but he keeps on. On some nights we watch movies and we tell him to sit down with everyone. He'll sit but then 30 seconds later he's up again. Either playing again, running to his room for more toys, or going over to someone to ask a question or something. When he does actually sit down he's shaking his leg or pulling his feet up in his lap and playing with them. Last night during quiet time the longest he sat still was 1 minute, then up again.
Since I've been wondering more about it lately I finally just asked him why he doesn't just sit down when we keep telling him to. He said "I just want to play" to which I responded with "but we always tell you there's a time to play and there are times to sit still. So when we tell you to sit down why do you always still get up" he said "I don't know" I feel horrible making him feel like he's doing something wrong by playing bc he's not! I just really wanted to see what's going on in his head.
Another concern of mine is some of the things he says or does seem like the signs of impulsiveness. Nothing is dangerous or highly inappropriate (anymore) but rather questionable. He's a very touchy person. He always wants to give hugs (which isn't bad either! It's one of the things that makes him so sweet!) It's just that it's not always appropriately done. I used to have a big problem with him trying to touch my breasts whenever he hugged me. One time he just came up and grabbed them with both hands and jiggled them. We got onto him about that real bad for quite awhile and Thank God it finally stopped! He's still very touchy feely though. I'm currently 8 months pregnant and he's always coming up and just rubbing my belly. I've never really gotten onto him about it bc I think it's sweet that he's "rubbing his little brother" as he puts it. And maybe it's just that I'm starting to get bothered by people coming up and rubbing my belly as a lot of women are by the 8th month! So I've never EVER told him not to, I just say please ask before you do that. He never does though, he just does it. (and if anyone has any advice on how to gently handle that issue please let me know! It's not that I don't want him loving on his little brother I would just like a little warning before hand!)*
And the fact that he wants to hug me or daddy all the time doesn't bother me at all either. I just wonder about the timing sometimes. A lot of the time its when I'm in the kitchen with my hands full or in a sink full of water. I always stop anyway though. Or it's at the dinner table when he's gotten up for the tenth time to come over to one of us. Which we never fuss at him for that either, he's hugging us! One of the things concerning me though is that when he's gotten up from something we've told him to sit still for and we ask what he's doing up he'll say "I just wanted to hug you" then comes up to hug and goes back, and when he does that it's sometimes pretty obvious that wasn't his first intention when he got up. That maybe he's figured out we aren't gonna yell at him for that so that's what he says he got up for. I'm not gonna make my kids feel bad for giving me hugs! And I love that he does it because a lot of boys don't wanna hug their parents anymore at that age. But sometimes I'm *thinking to myself "why are you up AGAIN?" I hope that doesn't make me sound like a ***** but it prob does, totally not what I'm trying to say!
There are other things that he says and does too that make me wonder if he thinks before he speaks. I'm not gonna go into specifics bc this is already really long! If you're still reading I appreciate it! I'll just say that I quite often get looks from other parents like they're thinking "did he really just say that?" And he's always talking. Even if other people are in the middle of a conversation he'll start talking. He gets so angry when other people interrupt him and make him forget what he was saying but he does it to other people all the time.
I also wonder about his inability to follow easy rules. There are rules that have always been in place like cleaning up your messes when you're done eating. I'm constantly going into the kitchen and finding trash on the table and food on the floor. When I ask why he didn't clean up when he was done he says "I just forgot" If it was a new rule I would understand him forgetting but this has been a rule for at least the last year. "I just forgot" is pretty much always his response when we ask him why he didn't do something. Or "I don't know" which has always frustrated me because I couldn't understand why he would do certain things that he knows better than. But then I got to thinking maybe he doesn't have as much control over some of his actions that I thought he did. Which is where I started questioning the impulsiveness.*
The forgetfulness has become a really big problem lately. He has this toy puppy that he's super attached to and wants to take everywhere. The problem is that he leaves it everywhere and then can't find it when he's looking for it, which is usually right before bedtime. Several times we've had to go on a full house hunt looking for it, we've even replaced it once. It's gotten to the point where I've had to take it away in the morning and give it back at bedtime. He does this with other toys too and now he's starting to lose his books for school or forget to bring them home. Now that it's effecting his school in that aspect I'm getting concerned about that too.
*I know with ADHD kids they are not acting out on purpose or intentionally being bad. I have never thought that about him or his sister anyway. They are such good kids and that's why I really question some of their behaviors. I didn't really get into any of the "bad" behaviors in this post though. Mainly I'm wondering what people's opinions on my sons behavior are? I know a lot of people will say he's just really energetic or he's bored and to fill his time. But even on days when his schedule is full of activities he'll still be buzzing around the house while everyone else is crashed on the couch. Am I right to be concerned about the possibility of ADHD in him? And do you think we should start the process of evaluating him since we're in the process of evaluating our daughter as well?
My main reason for doubting ADHD in him is that I'm not sure whether all this is going on at school too or not. He rarely gets in trouble at school, but when he does it's for getting up when he's been told to sit down or for making noises when he's supposed to be working. I've asked him a couple times what he does at school when he's told to sit down. Like when you're teacher tells you to sit down do you still get up anyway? And he says no so I'm confused as to why it's so hard for him at home. My only thought is that when he's at school he tries so hard to do what he's told that when he comes home he just can't control it anymore. He gets very upset if he gets in trouble for anything at all. Which is another reason I know he's not being bad on purpose. I've also read that inability to control emotions is a symptom. He's extremely sensitive! His feelings get hurt very easily, even by things that aren't considered hurtful. He came into the room crying one day bc his sister called him a "chocolate milk" I'm not sure what that even means, so I just told him she didn't say it to be mean, she likes chocolate milk!
*I also don't want to be the mom that "blames misbehaviors on ADHD and just puts her kids on meds as a last resort" bc that is so not me at all. I'm extremely hesitant to start meds on kids of any age unless absolutely necessary, but especially this young. I feel that if we do get a diagnosis of ADHD that there should be therapy and lifestyle changes made first or in addition to meds. But I also don't want to be the mom that looks the other way and hopes it gets better on its own. Their father showed symptoms at their age and his parents waited years to get him evaluated. It turned out he did have ADHD and is still on meds as an adult. *
I'm just completely frustrated with what to do or think anymore. I've gotten so concerned that they both may have problems with ADHD that I'm becoming hesitant on what to discipline for and what not to. I don't want to be too harsh with discipline if they really can't control some of their behaviors. I'm probably going to bring it up to the dr anyway just to be safe rather than sorry but any constructive thoughts will be appreciated. And thank you for taking the time to read this and comment. I know it's really long and again I'm sorry!!
I am sorry I didn't see this post when you made it, and am replying in the hopes that one day you may come back to check here.
My son is ADHD, and has a few other disorders. I knew something wasn't right from when he was around 3yrs old (he is 11 now) and I started off with a paediatric neurologist, who referred me to an OT and ST. We were then referred to child psychologists, educational psychologists, forensics psychologist and eventually to a child development centre with 13 different paediatric specialists on their board. All because I wasn't prepared to accept that he was probably just ADHD and they wanted to fill him up with meds. It took me 4 years and A LOT of different specialists to get a diagnosis that made sense. Only then did I agree to meds and treatment.
On the behaviour aspect - I could have written about my son a lot of what you have said about your stepson. The impulsive sometimes inappropriate behaviour. The spontaneous desire for hugs is what struck a cord with me.
Recently my son was becoming destructive, but only when he went certain places. His dad's house (we are divorced) and school is mostly where the behaviour was worse. It didn't seem like something his usual dr's could help with so on a whim I decided to seek help from a counselling psychologist (family counselling) and I am so glad I did. He has been going to them since July this year and it was one of the best "whims" I could have ever had. It turns out he has a big issue with the lack of individualised attention or any attention for that matter that he was getting from his dad (and sometimes me) - it became a respect issue because he perceived his dad's public discussions of his behaviour with other family members to be a betrayal. This in effect led to a breakdown of respect to his father, and the bad behaviour a combination of not receiving adequate, positive attention from his dad and the feeling of betrayal. With school I found out he was being physically bullied and was too afraid/ embarassed/ scared to say anything to me or the teachers. That is what the hugs were for. He would get a desire to want to say something, he would come for a hug and then get too scared to say anything. He speaks very openly to his therapist, and although he is entitled to patient/doctor confidentiality the dr's do give me general insight on what is going on and how to address it at home. this has made a world of difference for us and we are continuing with the counselling still.
The last couple of years have been ongoing battles. There are things that my son does that I know are the ADHD or TLE (temporal lobe epilepsy) coming through even though he takes meds for these. And although I do not necessarily accept these "things", I do understand where it is coming from and I remain firm with him, express that it is not acceptable, but I don't dwell on it or punish him for it. But this is where the psychologists come in.
My son now feels "emotionally safe" with me and he talks more openly to me about what is going on his life. I have moved him to a school that specialises in ADHD, SPD (SID), TLE and dyslexia. He will now be amongst a group of his peers that understand his behaviour is going to be different sometimes and with teachers that understand how to teach them in a positive atmosphere.
Be honest with your stepson, earn his trust, be consistent (consistency is a big thing by the way). It sounds like you have a loving household which is brilliant! But you have to set the boundaries (which it sounds like you do) and be consistent by all means. My son was lying to me about something minor, and I don't like lies at all. I warned him that if he lies to me like that again I will cancel his birthday sleep over (which was 2 weeks away at the time). 2 days later he flat out lies to me again. So No sleep over, I stood my ground, did what I said and cancelled his birthday sleep over. He gets 2 choices, the right one and the wrong one. He is pre-warned of the consequences if he CHOOSES to make the wrong choice. If he makes the wrong choice I follow through, always. That is consistency, and he shows his respect for me now that I don't back down, or give second chances, or become a pushover.
Anyway, I could go on forever - my best advise is see a specialist for a correct diagnose and from there consider the counselling psychologist.
Laura and Anthony
Jun/July2012 - Cycle 11 started charting
Last edited by LauraTTCat42; December 11th, 2012 at 04:25 AM.
A lot of what you posted could have been my son as well! It never hurts to evaluate, however do your research and ask WHY...
With my son we have to be consistent and are teaching him that he has a choice and every choice has consequences, they could be good or bad. They still need to be held responsible for their actions, just in a different way. I don't "punish" they way I used to before I found out he was ADHD. I know now that I have to give him a heads up before we do anything, and lay out my expectations that he CAN meet. I know it is unreasonable to ask him to sit completely still at church, but I can expect him to stay in our pew, and be very quiet as not to distract others. I know that when I take him shopping with me he is not going to stay exactly where I want him to and keep his hands off everything and he is too big to be in the cart. But I can expect him to walk and to stay close to me. I can expect him to keep the items on the shelf while he is looking. I can expect him to be respectful to others in the store.
I tell him what to expect and I talk about what we can and cannot do. I also have to set out a clear consequence for him. This is especially true in a new situation. Due to impulse control, I find that quick rewards and consequences are the most effective. (Nothing delayed more than a few hours although we do sometimes tell him of things coming up over the weekend and use it as a motivator) Things that work for him are extra computer time, going to the park, visiting a friend, picking a movie to watch with me. Punishments that work with him right now are time outs, grounded to the room, No screen time. Time outs are especially effective in public because he is old enough to be embarrassed. I have to make sure that what ever I do that my discipline is not reactive. This means I have to give him a warning and make sure my feelings are in check and I think before I act, because this is the skill I need him most to learn.
BTW- I thought a lot of my son's was normal kid behavior, but when his Aunt loves sending her older kids over because my son WORE them out, I started realizing that there may be a little more to it. My son is also very likely ODD (His therapist suspects but hasn't diagnosed)
Thank you *Kiliki* for once again doing such amazing work on a siggie
I can do all things through Christ which Strengtheneth me. (Phil 4:13)