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ADHD Parents Together
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ADHD + ODD 9 year old. Distinct behaviors in different settings

Our son has always struggled with behavior in school but when he is home or with me or my husband around he has no behavioral issues. He is just fine at home. Does his chores with no arguing, complies with screen limits with minimal effort and generally does what we ask from him. He cooks with us, takes out the trash, loads the dishwasher just fine. No issues with night routine, whatsoever either - even though he has nightmares every single night. He is a great kid at home or outside, as long a we are present. Also great with the person that picks him up from school and takes him to the park. Loving with family and our adult friends. Active? Very much so but rude or disrespectful, no. At school he is disrespectful to adults, rude to children and uncompliant with rules to the point that he needs a paraprofessional with him 100% time whom he completely ignores. Recently diagnosed with ADHD (hyperactive type, no attention deficit) and ODD. Are there any other parents out there who's child only has behavior issues at school or extracurricular activities, i.e. in setting where there are other children present but parents are not around? How do you manage that? Since we have to talk about the issues from school with him, we find it brings stress to our relationship when usually there is none because he is a great kid around us. The difference in behavior is so great we are not even sure what to think about the ADHD ODD diagnosis. As an example, the school asks me to come to the field trips to make sure he complies. When I go, I don't even need to be next to him or say anything. Just being in the group is enough for him to behave like a normal kid. If I happen not to make it, it's a train wreck. This is valid with me or my husband around.

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How old is your son? I have twins and even though they were born twins they have different issues and one of them act just like your son. It is very stressful for my family and I don't know what to do either? Good luck and keep me posted please and thank you !

Colleen from Boston, Ma

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My son is 9 years old. And yours? Hope to find some answers here. We're working with child mind institute to implement a rewards map at school. School is struggling because it's too much work, even though he has a paralegal with him 100% dedicated. He is in an ICT class with an IEP plan in place. Still slow progress. We feel we accomplished more by talking to him (he is no longer physically aggressive) than with any programs in place by school :( This is extra hard because we are not at school.

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My son is the opposite, amazing at school but struggled greatly at home with behavior. Does your son possibly have anxiety? Wondering if he feels so anxious at school that he just acts out. We're struggling with anxiety also with my son and that's why I mention it. When he's not in complete control he begins to act out. Have you considered possibly homeschooling him, or at least for a little while? Just curious since he responds more to you and the home environment if he'd maybe be able to catch back up to his peers academically which may help him. Also is he an only child? My son has 2 siblings and acts completely different when they are around, it's the competing for attention and the fact he can't control them. When its just him with me he acts wonderfully. Sorry I don't have any first hand expierence just trying to think of some possible things that may help.

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Trpwife07 my daughter and your son sound similar. We should chat offline on coping skills you are using because i need help! She competes with my son who is older and does really well in school. Whenever he reads out on something he did well at school she always has to one-up him with a better test score or better feedback from the teacher. She’s really smart too but anxious, disorganized at school and academics in certain classes don’t come naturally to her as they do him. At home only she is highly temperamental. She has been diagnosed with Inattentive adhd so with any multi task direction she gets anxious and disorganized and then angry when she becomes anxious and simply feels more comfortable lashing out at home than at school. This morning after she became anxious getting off to school, I got called a “creep” for looking in her backpack simply trying to help her put her beach towel for a end of school school picnic inside her backpack better instead of hanging outside of the backpack. I am starting to lose it so need any and all ideas to try and manage this.

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From my research and asking friends and family, yours is the most common situation. Great at school and acting out at home - my husband was like that as a child too. That's why I struggle to find people to share my story and exchange experiences. But you bring up great points. I wish I could home school him but not possible. He is not struggling academically (not inattentive at all), although I'm sure he'd do much better if he wasn't so disruptive and in detention or rolling on the floor half the time. So far he has good grades (no clue how) and he goes to a very competitive elementary school in Manhattan. Notwithstanding, he has an immense fear of failure and embarrassment in front of his peers. A different look or word from anyone can set him off. He's given up on all the activities he loved like singing, dancing, acting. Going to school (or any place with kids) for him is like entering a war zone. His lack of confidence and fear of failure could be related to his brother who is not only 7 years older but extremely gifted and above all very intense, sucking up all the attention at home. We realize this and do our best to manage. Hard to be sure if he feels insecure because of his brother though because he never expressed it, not even once. Nor does he try to show he is better than him. He just stares in void whenever his brother talks. He clams up, stares at the window or starts playing with a toy, waiting his turn to speak (a kid who interrupts everyone all the time).

Thanks for your pointers. Hope you find people here to share your experience.

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I have an 8 year old son and we are in the process of getting diagnosed. We are in a similar situation, he's generally much more compliant in the home setting or when it is just adults present. However, anytime we go in public with other children, its like you said, its a war zone. He's defensive and aggressive, loud and up in there face. He has a hard time making and friends because of it. I've even lost a few friends. He gets angry easily but cries a lot because nobody likes him. We do homeschool, but going in public has become such an overwhelming thing for both of us I'm ready to just give up. I agree with a reply above that its an anxiety issue. Sorry not any advice, just know you're not alone.

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Thank you! Just knowing there are other cases like ours is comforting somehow. He was just diagnosed with ADHD (hyperactive type) but we're not confident with the diagnosis. He is not hyperactive all the time. He is great at home and even outside if only with us. Movies, restaurants, just fine. An angel? No, but perfectly manageable, eating with silverware and napkin on the lap, yes. And waiting for everyone to finish before getting up. At school he eats with his hands, makes noises, farts and burps in front of the other kids. They laugh (which he loves) but when it turns into making fun (rapidly) he completely loses it. Also funny how he acknowledges some authority figures, like his parents, grandparents, our adult friends, or even the person who picks him up from school that he only met 3 month ago but completely ignores others like his teachers and paraprofessional. We are proceeding with an in depth neuropsychological evaluation to confirm diagnosis and uncover and hidden information processing differences. He is out of this world creative. Kids follow him on the playground because he makes up the best roleplays on the planet - he goes around with a costume bag for friends sometimes. Until he gets bossy and aggressive and all parents run away with their children before something goes wrong. We've been making links between his amazing creativity with a very different way of perceiving the world and information altogether. He reads a story and when you tell him to say it in his own words he tells a completely different one. On the other hand he makes perfect impersonations of movie characters, from the tone of voice, to accent (and he is not native English speaker) and perfect mannerisms. He definitely sees the world differently than we do. Could this be linked with perceiving social cues with distortion or amplified and therefore overreacting? We think there is a connection and want to find out. Only getting some courage to fork over the 6.5K it costs. We'll be going on vacation back to our home country Portugal and come back in September to proceed with the evaluation. I'll let you know. We might find some links between our stories. Wishing you all the best. And this will pass. The grow and it gets better :)

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Our son is 14 he has ADHD and ODD he is a completely different person at school than at home but not as extremely different as your son. My son struggles to comply at home andnis very defiant but at school he is horrible. His friends say they like him at home but not at school. He is loud and foul language all the time at school. It got so bad that the school refused to allow him to attend class. We had to file a state complaint.

We told our son that when he matures he will be much the same at home and at school and that this should be a personal goal for him. We are at a loss as well. We are starting a new academy. We are hoping this year he will do better than last year.

We wish you the best and wish we had some advice. The key is my son needs to want to learn . We try to motivate but have not found a way to do that yet. We are hoping and praying for a safe adult to come into his life that can assist him in his school career.

We wish you the best with your son!

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Read Ross W. Green "The explosive child" and "Lost at school". We use his method at home and it has proven beneficial. It's a lot of work so they won't do it at school. We're left with doing what we can at home and hoping it will start to have effects at school one day. The biggest frustration is really that, mainly. School is uncapable of putting the right systems in place to help these kids.

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Where was he evaluated? Did he get a complete psychoeducational evaluation? Was it done by the school? A diagnosis should include information and observations from different settings. Sometimes children learn to behave differently in different settings and this is not necessarily rooted in a learning or medical difference or disability. My heart breaks for kids who have to try and "beat" school somehow. Young humans just don't learn the same things, at the same time, in the same ways. I would maybe see if your son could work with a therapist who can observe his school situation and help figure out what is going on. Your son is so lucky to have you. So many kids don't have even one person who is trying to help figure things out and make it better- don't like school management problems make you feel like you don't know your son. You know him and all that is great about him.

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He was put on an IEP program last year by the school. He also has school counseling at school 2x week. Recently, the school pushed us to get outside help. He was evaluated at the Child Mind Institute which included feedback from parents, extracurricular activity teacher and classroom teachers. There was also an in school observation. Diagnosis was ADHD (hyperactivity only) and ODD. The only evaluation missing is the full neuropsychological. The school was hoping the therapist would suggest therapy sessions with our son (and somehow "fix" him). However, the treatment suggested to start with was a rewards program which the school at first accepted to implement but now claim it's too late in the year to start. He is in an ICT class with 2 teachers, an IEP program in place and a paraprofessional fully dedicated to him. They have all the resources and still couldn't implement a reward system. Hoping the next school year will bring us a fresh start and teachers who are able to follow through with the suggested approach. Thanks for chiming in :)

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I found this thread a little late but wanted to say our son has some similarities. He does well with only adults around, although he has some struggles with paying attention and doing multi step stuff. But it’s mild to the point his assessing psychologist said she hesitated to diagnose him. But the input from his teacher and parents about how he behaved in social settings convinced her. He is completely triggered by other kids. He gets up and dances around his classroom at random times. Can’t share or take turns. Controls play completely. Gets aggressive and is constantly play-hitting and sometimes jumping on top of other kids. He talks to adults but can’t have a conversation with a kid with getting handsy or trying to chase them. We try to talk to him about it but it makes him defensive and he just wants to avoid kids so he’s not “in trouble”. Have you thought of social skills groups or camps? Ours did a camp over the summer. We’re looking for a local group. It doesn’t seem like keeping your son out of public or away from other kids is the answer. He needs to learn to get along with peers. But maybe with more guidance.

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