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ADHD Parents Together
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Help with diagnosis

Hello! I'm new here and am already feeling less alone. We have an 8-year-old who I believe has ADHD and ODD. He is soo hard to deal with on most days. He has giant outbursts with name-calling, throwing things, he's punched his younger brother, broken windows, etc. My husband and I are out of hope. It's hard to even describe how bad his bad days are and how terrible he makes it for everyone else. We love him, but some days it's very difficult to feel that love.

My question is: Is there a psychologist or therapist you'd recommend, specifically that has experience in dealing with ODD kids? We'd like to get him formally evaluated and start treatment/counseling ASAP. We are in the northern VA area. Thanks in advance!

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I am all the way across the country in Washington State. Believe me when I say, you don’t have to describe how bad it is because I have lived it. All these parents understand.

What I’m seeing is a pattern; the years from 5-10 are the worst for tantrums and angry outbursts. Gosh I wish I had advice to make it better.

What I have been saying to everyone is this:

The world, the teachers, his peers; are going to ridicule and punish and isolate your child; he will encounter negativity at every turn. So, I believe loving him through all of it is the best thing we can do. Of course we have to correct them and talk them through everything. But number one thing; love and support and a stable place at home.

Hopefully they eventually learn how to navigate the world and find a small group of friends.

Mine finally did. He is 14 now. It’s been rocky and rough. And he still creates stress and difficulties, but it’s better.

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That is encouraging. I have been freaking out a little about the teenage years. Right now he just calls us "stupid" and "butthead," and says he hates us, but I was imagining it would all just get so much worse as he went through puberty. It's good to know it wasn't like that for everyone.

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My son is 30 now. We had more than our fair share of heart ache for our much loved son. We had to fight the school district on meds because they made our son so sick to his stomach. If you limit carbs and sugars and try Vitamin B, it can't hurt and may help with the behavior. Doctors and therapists usually just want you to give them the medication. I have no problem with a small amount of medication combined with special education assistance and behavior modification, but we felt like we were being handled by drug pushers. We found that the best solution was to read books on behavior modification techniques and warmly reward them for the good things that they do. These kids get so little positive reinforcement, only complaints about their behavior. There is a response from an individual at this site with detailed information on medications and vitamins that could help enormously and this person has the condition. I have a book on createspace.com and Amazon.com called "I have ADD and I'm Proud to Be Me." Please don't think I'm hawking a book. My profit is about $2.00 per book so I won't go on a cruise if you buy one on line. I wrote it from the perspective of a young boy with A.D.H.D. (like my son) since I never was able to find a book that presented the issue from the CHILD's perspective. I found that if you can walk in another person's shoes, you will somehow know what is right for your child of any age. You know your child better than anyone else and your love and support and special techniques will help in time. It is an uphill battle and very slow, but have faith. My biggest heartbreak was his problem making friends. Kids without any condition can be cruel and so can their parents. I wish you and your family the best of luck, and write any time. Wendy

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I’m not near you, so I can’t recommend a person. But I’d like to suggest looking for a psychologist who can teach Parent-Child Interaction Therapy.

I think it might be a little different with an 8yo, but we went through ODD with my younger daughter when she was 4 and 5.

I agree w/EJ’s mom, love your little, don’t give up.

It can be so hard, but we’re all here together!

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Thank you! That's a good idea. I'll have to look for someone who does that kind of therapy.

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I agree w comments above- it does get better with time and effort. I recommend looking at the resources on CHADD.org to find someone near you that you can work with. I worked w a local therapist that was an ADHD parent trainer and she was amazing. She was extremely helpful for our whole family and had lots of good referrals (developmental pediatrician, psychiatrist, etc). Good luck!

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Thank you. I will look into those resources.

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Request an assessment through the school district so that you can see if he qualifies for a 504 Plan or IEP.

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So far he has been homeschooled, but we are thinking of putting him in a Montessori school next year. I wonder if they will also do an assessment.

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A Montessori school will likely refer you to your district of residence for the assessment. The assessment is performed by a school psychologist and resource specialist who would come to the Montessori school.

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A Montessori school is not required to provide services or accommodations if needed.

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hrf2- first off.. big hugs to you and your wife. One thing that I had to learn is that my child does not "mean" to act this way.. they don't want to be in trouble.

I also recommend being open and trying everything because things WILL get better, it is a journey.. a long one but it does get better. I strongly wish someone told me to meet with a pediatric psychiatrist early on, they are hard to get to in the beginning, but they are great at reading a child's personality and making suggestions about them. For our family we could not live without medication and the right kind and dose took a while to find, now we have very few times where he has a single outburst, unless his medication wears off.

Best of luck, we are here for the journey we have all been there. Take care

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Thanks for the encouragement! It's helpful to hear we are not alone and that it has the possibility to get better!

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It would be a bit of a drive, but you could check out Kennedy Krieger in Baltimore.

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Firstly, we are all in the same boat, and it can feel frustrating, isolating, hopeless and never ending. Know that you are not alone, each of us here have fought these same battles, felt the same desperation and would do almost anything to help our children and our family thrive. We fought for years to get our little one officially diagnosed, but once we did, it got the ball rolling and afforded him an IEP at school (which can help the school implement a more strategy based support system instead of a strict punishment based one), gave my husband, me and our older son a better understanding of what's going on in his mind and how the ADHD brain works (they don't want to be nasty as much as we don't want them to be!) and offered us the opportunity to seek out therapy, medication and strategies to offer him the best chance of success within our family, with his peers and at school. We spoke to our pediatrician about our concerns and asked her to send a referral to our local psychologist for testing (we live in Boston, but your pediatrician will have recommendations for you). Once we had the referral, he undertook a 6 hour evaluation/psychotherapy test. We then took the results to his school, used them to obtain a referral to a therapist, psychiatrist and began exploring therapies to help. It is a long, winding, difficult journey, but it will get better. Don't give up! It is extremely important that you take care of yourself, as well, because it is so exhausting and hard, if you're not getting enough rest, eating well, exercising, etc. it makes it even harder. Good luck, and keep reaching out! I found just by hopping on this site and seeing that there were others who understood what I was going through softened my hardest days, hang in there, mama!

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Thanks for the encouragement! It's so good to hear.

We tried to get him diagnosed and she said he didn't meet all the criteria. I think it hurt that he is homeschooled in some ways because I don't think I conveyed on the questionnaire the extent to which the symptoms occur. I structure his whole education around the symptoms. I have to teach him everything one-on-one. I can't teach another child at the same time. He can't do any of the work by himself, or he refuses to. So I think I said often gets distracted instead of always because we've built our world to make it often instead of always. Does that make sense? And then he just had his cub scout leader fill out the teacher one. But he doesn't have a problem there because he's super into it, it's for 45 minutes, and it's a small group of kids. I listen to podcasts and read materials and I think, "Yes, that's him!" And, "I finally feel like someone just described my world." I don't want to sound like a crazy person that just has to have an official diagnosis, but I do feel like it would open some doors as far as getting help for our family. She's willing to do some individual therapy, but I'm not super hopeful that someone telling him that it's his choice to be mad, etc. will make all that much of a difference in the heat of the moment.

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Children's Hospital in Northern Virginia has the HALP Clinic- (Hyperactivity, Attention, Learning Problems). They do evaluations and either provide or refer you for treatment. They take insurance for the evaluation (which is unusual).

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Oh, thank you! I will look into it!

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Does he behave differently at school or around other adults? For us, individual therapy was a complete waste of money but worse because he felt like he was the problem. In reality, it was more our interactions as a family. Our ADHD kids are much more complex so it requires us to get more skill to parent them. We took a training course specifically for ODD kids and learned so much! I can give you tons of ideas here but encourage you to seek classes to learn the tactics we learned. Also, remember to do things for yourself and try to take time with your husband without discussing parenting! We all need breaks from it weekly, else you burn out

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Thank you for your response! You pretty much nailed it. He has been great for other adults at cub scouts, sports, etc. We homeschool, so I'm not sure how he'd do with a teacher. He doesn't do great with us or with babysitters. I would love to take a class and learn more. My husband and I are at a loss. Nothing we've tried has worked! Any ideas where to find a training course or class?

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First, both you & your husband need to keep your emotions in check. I know it's hard! I walk away for a break if I feel myself getting irritated. Calm, but confident, communication will show you're kid you've got control. This perception is critical! So the same with your hubby. Neither of you should correct each other in front of your kid. Do this in private. Again, perception that you're BOTH in control. We all slip up. When u do, just remind your kid you're a team and teams can disagree sometimes. When your kid is driving you nuts with behaviors, remember that he's testing you. Be his therapist, not mom when this happens. If you treat every bad behavior like a symptom and you're his therapist, suddenly you're not taking it personal & getting pissed. Ignore attention seeking behavior unless it's dangerous. The more you try to correct it, the more he'll do it. He's looking for negative attention. IGNORE! It'll take a week or more to notice certain behaviors disappear. He WIL escalate it. Don't fall for it. If he escalates to being distespectful or aggressive, TIMEOUT chair until he sits calmly. If he fights timeout, keep taking him back there with firm but not violent force and NEVER showing anger. It took me a month to where he stopped physical aggression. Now he sits in the chair and will protest, swear at me to try to agitate, but I ignore it and at some point he quiets down. After 5 min of quite, I ask him if he's calm now to move on. My wife does not try to physically put him back. She simply takes away something precious if he refuses, like gaming for th day....more to come

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Thx, no parenting classes here, so v helpful to hear advice on parenting!

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Display 'House Rules' on your fridge. Go over them with him so he understands that these are required and have specific consequences for breaking. Keep the list short and simple. We went with these, #1 BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS, #2 DO WHAT YOUR TOLD, #3 CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. #1 is most important because any fir of aggression falls into this category. Give examples of behaviors that break these rules. Describe the consequences for breaking them. Get agreement that these are the rules. When he tries to break them, and he will to test you, give him one reminder, for example, if he sasses you , say 'Are you being respectful' while pointing at the House Rules. 'Because you know the consequences'. If he corrrects himself, praise him!! If he escalates, punish with the consequence. Ignore all protests. Do not layer more consequences. If he comes after you aggressively, leave the room. Questions?

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Now something really important. Do you find he acts out more when there is stress or tension in the house? When you or your husband are upset with him or about something? If so, it may mean he's internalizing all negativity and this is fight or flight response. My kid is all fight. He reacts to negative energy even if it has nothing to do with him. It's important to mix in more positivity daily. Try to have a ratio of five positive comments for every negative comment per day. Track it if you need to but it's important to recognize how much negativity, berating, & criticism WITHOUT positivity can build up over time into 'fight or flight' behaviors. Take time to do fun things just with your son, daily!!

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Couldn't agree with this more. It's so important to be the calm in their storm-as difficult as it is, remaining in control is critical to teaching calming strategies and leading by example.

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