ADHD + ODD 9 year old. Distinct behav... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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

Msere
Msere

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.

26 Replies

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

Msere
Msere in reply to CNice5

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.

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.

Bonnmu01
Bonnmu01 in reply to Trpwife07

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.

Msere
Msere in reply to Trpwife07

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.

Kdrose
Kdrose in reply to Msere

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.

Msere
Msere in reply to Kdrose

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 :)

Searching18
Searching18 in reply to Msere

Your story sounds so similar to our 10 year son diagnosed with ADHD/ODD. He has a complete fear of failure and cannot deal with "expectations" which we find it hard to understand because we are not the type of parents who say he must be number one in everything. We just ask that he put his best effort into it (which is now a problem due to his lack of motivation). I think it does not help that he has 3 older sisters who are overachievers, hard working and excellent students. He used be such a happy and social kid and now he has become a completely different person - unwilling to get help when needed, refusing to listen to anyone, lies constantly, and is aggressive/moody at home (he's a model student at school though). He has dropped all the activities that he excelled in for no reason and would prefer to stay in his room with the door closed on the weekends. When we leave the house, he tries to get into our laptops (we keep changing passwords), is looking for the remote to watch TV, and searching for his sister's phone to play games on it like some addict. We are trying to get him to commit to a weekend activity but no luck so far. I think he is anxious about trying anything new that he might not be good at and being in a new situation. How have you dealt with your son's lack of interest in activities and does he try to isolate himself? What has worked for your family? We're open to any advice or suggestions!

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!

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.

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.

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 :)

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.

Msere
Msere in reply to Applecrisp

Online learning was a blessing. He does play with other kids in playdates and birthday parties. Struggles with organized activities in which he has to follow rules that don't make sense for him. Emotionally immature, very clever, he needs love and support on a more individualized level. He is now getting it because I happen to work from home. He is totally independent with his work and does spend a good time playing with his friends online. We know too much screen time is not good but we are following his lead. He is happy, builds relationships both online and offline, those his school work and lots of chores around the house. As long as it works, I'm not really even counting his screen time. The word is different and as covid has shown us it can change in one day. All kids want really is to bee seen, heard and loved. The rest is secondary.

My son will be 8 in September. We have been to four different schools in four years. He has learned how to get suspended and works hard at it so he can get back home to his comfort zone. All the medications we tried didn’t work, we had adderral rage (broken flat screen TVs and laptop screens), losing weight, and inability to sleep. We took off all meds and switched to supplements, GABA liquid, melatonin, and vitamins. Because he is a defiant, no complaint child at school but an angel and overall fabulous child at home, his teacher has been coming to our home three times each week for home based instruction. This is working well for us but emotionally, his self esteem is taking a huge beating over all the focus on negativity at school, restraint holds, seclusion rooms, suspensions, (over 40 between Sept 2017 and February of 2018)etc. we just can’t do it to him anymore as far as sending him to a school system that doesn’t have the resources to support him. We looked at the alternative, which has indoor recess and every room is key card entry and exit. Nope-we are not doing that! We will most likely pursue home based instruction next school year through his home district and if they don’t agree we will home school. As he gets older, the symptoms of his combined ADHD still exist but he learns to better manage them each day. Sporting events are okay because either myself or his father always attend. We do use weighted blankets at night, limit screen time, an encourage healthy eating. Love your child, continue to do what is best for the child and listen as they can often tell you what they need. Also, it can be tough for us as parents if ADHD children as other parents are judgmental and everyone has their own ideas about what you should do. You know your child best! Remember that. In support, take care.

This is very strange because when our daughter was tested both times—she was tested twice, once by a psychologist and once by a psychiatrist—one of the requirements for a diagnosis was that the behaviors occur at home and at school. So I’m puzzled how he got the diagnosis with good, compliant behavior at home. And then I also wonder what in the world is happening at school for him to react this way, if he’s not this way when his parents are present.

Msere
Msere in reply to mplaz

I think they diagnosed him because they wanted to be able to use the resources they have if they put an IEP in place. The problem is not this school specifically. He's been in different schools and started showing really aggressive behavior at age 5. We have identified the episodes that triggered his fear when he was younger and he will have to work those as he grows older. Nothing really serious but traumatic for his age and the sensitive personality he has. Anyway, any school or organized group activities with kids the same age for him now is basically a war zone. If one good thing covid brought is that he is now doing really well with online learning. Just a normal kid at home. Actually an adorable human being who is sweet and very cooperative with all our family affairs. We hope that not being exposed to stress on a daily basis will give him more time to solve his inner safety issues.

I have the same problem, I was told its because when they are with people they trust and feel secure that is why they are more calm. My experience with school is that they do not know how to help these children because they don't take their time to get to know them and built trust and attachment. No matter how much they have studied how to handel behavior problems to your children they are strangers. That why kids act out in school because they don't feel safe or feel misunderstood. I would say research schools see which is willing to work with you child, even look at online classes. Your child just wants to be with you. You are their comfort zone. No matter how much you tell them they are safe and help them built trust you might still struggle. Its normal just make sure you nurture your self and take time to unwind and be prepared to be there for him when he needs you.

Msere
Msere in reply to MariaD20

Thank you. He has matured a bit. He is now 12. Since covid he has been at home and is doing so much better. We tried hybrid when this school year started but going to school, not being able to touch anyone, play tag or really interact without a mask was not a good idea. We were going to move them to fully online now but schools in NYC just closed for an undetermined time. And yes, I am convinced it's all about feeling safe. School for him is an absolute jungle. At home he is just a regular kid and happy :)

Just curious, has your son ever been assessed for high functioning autism? Some of what you describe—difficulty at school where there is more sensory stimulation, more social cues to interpret, less structure and therefore more anxiety—sounds a little familiar.

Msere
Msere in reply to Aspen797

He hasn't been assessed. We live in New York and everything costs tens of thousands of dollars. We just can't afford it. I do believe he is on the spectrum. His older brother is, even though the issues different and he was never rude or violent, he would just melt and cry. We do see tons of similarities though. We used to live in Portugal so our oldest was evaluated and diagnosed. Asperger's with an IQ of 156. He is now 19 and a very happy well adjusted young man. Very aware of his differences and doing an amazing job by focusing on his strengths and accepting his beautiful differences. My youngest which I described here is now 12 and maturing. Since he hardly goes to school now due to covid (1 or 2 days a week, when they don't close it for another covid case) it's apparently better. He does struggle with school work but now how can we even compare? Which kid actually sits on zoom for 5h? We go back to Portugal every summer. We may get him assessed there which costs like $300 just to be sure and find him the exact support he needs. I must say that what we see really works with both is just giving them room to be who they are and help them embrace their authenticity so they can communicate what they feel and think clearly and be better understood by everyone including friends, family and school. Thank you for your suggestion :)

I love your statement about giving your kids room to be who they are. School is so hard for some because it’s all about conforming to social and academic norms and when you happen to be on the spectrum/add (and bright!), that can be a tall order. Our son was “barely” diagnosed as being on the spectrum when young. Being very bright and having attention issues masked smaller markers. Our son, also 12, is very sensitive and had a rough go of things with peers and teachers when very small. Took time to rebuild trust/interest in those relationships—especially classmates. Some ASD affiliated social skill groups take kids without formal diagnoses. Our son is doing a virtual social meetup and it has been helpful, especially with the pandemic.

Msere
Msere in reply to Aspen797

That's interesting. Tell me more. My son is so "up to here" with seeing school counselors, group sessions, therapists, tests, having a para at school, being in an IEP program. Recently he said to his therapist "I have nothing to share. I'm fine. Stop making me feel like there is something wrong with me. But if you want I can make up something". He will not cooperate if he believes he is in a setting because he "is different". Like you said, it's especially challenging when they are bright. It just adds to their frustration even more, exacerbating all the "unacceptable" behavior.

Does your son get speech therapy through his IEP? We saw a therapist as well, but encountered what you describe—lots of push-back at being made to feel “damaged”. It definitely did not work for him. Positive parenting plus speech/social thinking/social skills worked for us.

The mental health model doesn’t always fit kids on the spectrum if the issues they are having are primarily ASD-based—perspective taking, social skills, emotional regulation. It wasn’t until we got in with a speech-based/pragmatic language group that things offered made sense to our son. So he attends a social skill group with other boys his age. They play games and generally have fun, but the therapists interweave social thinking and social skill practice.

You could call the autism society where you live or check with nearby universities that have speech and hearing graduate programs. They often work together in offering these groups. Could his doctor refer you to a speech therapist for a pragmatic language/social thinking evaluation? A developmental behavioral pediatrician? We were turned away several times when he was small and told he was typical and given info on parenting classes. What wasn’t clear to everyone then is clear now. But we had to fight to get the diagnosis at the time. With the diagnosis we got speech at school and outside too, probably the most helpful for us. For our son it gave him a sense of community and that it wasn’t all his “fault”. He has loved virtual learning btw. Eye-opening for us. He excels when the social piece is removed (well, except for focus and the internet lol).

Msere
Msere in reply to Aspen797

He gets no speech therapy from his IEP. Basically they put him on an IEP so he could have a full time para (which he sees as a baby sitter, so you can imagine how it makes him feel). And now online? No one is prepared for this. IEP is reduced to weekly sessions with a counselor which he just says what he knows she wants to hear. Getting speech therapy is a great idea. Language is one problem we as parents have identified. He understands things differently. It's like he hears something else. Makes odd inferences from common sentences. He also struggles to find words to articulate his thoughts and feelings. Will absolutely look into it. So helpful. Thank you!!

That’s tough about his IEP. If you haven’t already checked it out, there is a great website called “a day in our shoes” that is hosted by a special education advocate. Lots of good information to help with getting more from the IEP. It’s easiest for schools to “control” behavior with aides or self contained classes, it’s harder to do a really meaningful functional behavior assessment, get a really good behavior intervention plan in place and teach real skills that lead to acceptable replacement behaviors that help the child succeed. But that’s what IEPs are for!

I hope the speech therapy eval or developmental behavioral pediatrician eval works out and that you can get referred to some “fun” kid-oriented social groups! Btw, if he likes Minecraft, there is a white listed server for kids on the spectrum called Autcraft. Very safe, kind, space. There’s a Ted talk you can listen to about it if you Google :)

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