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Violent, out-of-control 11-year-old

(45 Posts)
Medea Sun 09-Jan-11 15:39:27

Ds is 11. Year 6 at a boys school, where he is quiet, gentle and well-behaved. He's been bullied intermittently over the years (boys have teased him verbally) but the school has always stepped in promptly and put a stop to it. He likes the school and hasn't wanted to be moved when I've suggested it. He is introverted but has 3 good friends. He's into maths and ICT. He needs to use a laptop for his work because of lack of coordination and 'processing delays.' He's a very bright child but lazy. I don't push him.

At home he is a nightmare. He is deeply jealous of his 8-year-old sister. I have never seen such intense sibling rivalry. Dd goes to school with scratches, bruises and black eyes (which she has been asked about at school). He can't go past her without hitting her. She is terrified of him (but nonetheless occasionally does the younger sister thing of winding him up, which I don't tolerate). He is convinced I love her better. I don't know how he can think this. If anything I have given him more attention over the years than I have given her.

He is violent with me: hitting, punching, slapping, hair-pulling, pushing (once into oncoming traffic), throwing objects at me such as heavy books. Over christmas he threatened me with a knife. Except for the knife incident, he does these things in public as often as he does them in the home.

He is extremely tall and strong for his age. He is the tallest in his year and almost as tall as I am and over 100 pounds. Restraining him is almost impossible. In fact his father recently developed a hernia, which I suspect is a result of physically lifting him and off me and dd when he is walloping us. We are gentle people and he has not 'learned' violence off of us.

He is never violent to anyone else except his 3 closest family members: his father, his sister and me. He was a dream child from the ages of 3 to 7. This troubling behaviour has been going on, with increasing severity, since he was about 8.

We have gone to the GP. We have been in family counselling for 1 year. Ds hates going. He hardly talks to the therapist, who has examined the home life and doesn't find anything too problematic with our limit-setting and discipline strategies. She doesn't know what to suggest, except to keep ds in therapy in the hopes of some break-through.

When he started complaining of mild headaches, it gave me leverage to ask for a scan. The doctor herself suggested there could be a physiological problem, like a brain tumour. The scan was negative. But the neurologist who ordered the scan said ds needs to be seen by a psychiatrist and perhaps, too, an autism specialist. I explained that ds is empathic, sensitive and funny and that I doubted he was ASD. She said that some children on the 'spectrum' show atypical features of autism.

After 3 years of this I feel defeated, powerless and terrified of my son. It has depressed me, and his father too. I have been wondering if I should move out with my daughter temporary, before ds accidentally puts her in hospital, just until we can find a way to help him. It can't be good for her mental health, to grow up in this hellish environment. I can't imagine she has a single happy childhood memory. But if I left it would probably be ds's biggest nightmare. But I have a responsibility to dd too; she needs to be protected.

I wonder if anyone else has experienced anything similar?

SkyBluePearl Sun 09-Jan-11 19:37:53

I think you should follow up the ASD lead. I work with kids with various degrees of ASD and many have been high functioning/good fun/have a degree of empathy.

Not sure what else to suggest really? Maybe anger managment or trying to spend some quality time alone with him.

Medea Sun 09-Jan-11 20:10:13

thanks skybluepearl smile

Medea Sun 09-Jan-11 21:54:10

Would be grateful for any other thoughts.

Heroine Mon 10-Jan-11 11:06:19

Ok, well someone coming home and bullying and being angry all the time is a pretty strong sign that the bullying at school hasn't stopped - and especially that even if it has stopped, the threat of it is probably still constant. teachers will shy away from bullying - partly because they go into denial (and especially female teachers seem to negate the experience of boys as 'just being boys' when really someone is the whipping boy for a load of twats) as kids get older the bullying is harder for teachers to deal with - In my school, teachers were afraid and deferential to the bullies once they got old enough to hit adults, once when one of these tossers got hurt in an accident we had a special assembly saying that we should all be nice to the boys who had been beating up and intimidating all the decent kids - even bringing a baseball bat and a 'hit list' into school that the teachers did nothing about.

I would think about putting him into a martial arts programme with some responsible teachers who will teach him a great deal about discipline and mental strength, but primarily I would say something like 'is your school full of idiots? and see what comes out.

I also had a friend whose husband became psychologically agressive, very fearful of losing arguments, and extremely threatening in driving disputes - and it turned out that the (building) site he was working in was run by some agressive tossers who had singled him out because he didn't join in with picking on the asian guys working there. They would steal his sandwiches and not give him instructions etc. Effectively he was powerless to deal with it at work and it all came out at home.

Perhaps you could try getting him on a holiday learning programme, or into a responsible youth group where there is little chance of the bullies corssing over - I was heartened by something in the Guardian about a child taken froma bullying environment and put on a trip and they reported that they were constantly surprised and amazed that other children were nice without any weird agenda.

I would fight shy of 'diagnosing' your son without looking at the external influences.

scurryfunge Mon 10-Jan-11 11:12:50

It doesn't sound like anything medical if he is well behaved at school. I agree that it sounds like he could be having bullying problems still - he sounds very stressed at home.

Medea Mon 10-Jan-11 22:09:00

thanks for these further responses, heroine and scurryfunge.

I, too, am not convinced the bullying has stopped, but ds insists it has; and the teachers check up regularly.

Tonight, in a crisis moment, I rang the family counselling centre. Ds had gone into a rage (I took away his 'computer games' time because he hit me and pushed me against a wall as we were walking home from school) taking it out on his sister, who was quietly eating her dinner. I thought he would snap her neck. This, by the way, was after he kicked me in the groin, pulled my hair, shoved me in a closet and held the door closed, and then lay on the floor beating his fists like a 2-year-old having a tantrum. Our counsellor wasn't there, but the receptionist offered to put me on the phone with a different one. I said 'No thank you' because I worried that someone who didn't know our family and our situation would bring in social services, which frankly didn't seem that inappropriate. I was afraid of him.

Dh, ds and myself had a conference tonight in which we clearly outlined the Rules which first and foremost include NO VIOLENCE EVER, and tried to talk about ways he might control his anger, e.g. extra sport (he's not at all sporty though) or martial arts, or even 'homework club' so that he is here less and therefore has less interaction with his sister for whom he has intense hatred and jealousy.

So that's my update for the evening. As for the weekend, ds left his skateboard at the top of the stairs on Sunday. I asked him very nicely to put it where it belongs. He said, 'No. I want you to trip on it and die.' This just doesn't seem like normal behaviour. He used to be so attached to me in particular, and this anger is so odd and upsetting.

Nanny0gg Tue 11-Jan-11 00:21:26

Well I don't think it sounds as though it's just down to something that may or may not be happening at school.
I think you need to go to your GP and get your family referred to someone who can help you. I think it needs more than counselling.
None of you can carry on like this - including your DS.

defineme Tue 11-Jan-11 00:33:59

I think it does sound very much like some of the asd children I know.

My ds1 has as and though he isn't particularly violent he does sound similar-he is an angel at school, nightmareish tantrums at home.Ds1 does manage empathy sometimes, but has very little understanding of why some things are wrong.

If it was me in your situation I would contact cahms and say I wasn't coping, I think your ds has some mental health issues and your dd is at risk. I would be asking for huge amounts of professional involvement-social workers, paedriaticians, child mental health experts.

Please don't worry that they will take your ds away-they really don't want to do that.

There is something very very wrong and you must act for all your sakes.

bobbysmum07 Tue 11-Jan-11 01:34:57

It doesn't sound to me like your son has asd. If his behaviour is good at school, he is able to control it. If he was autistic he wouldn't be able to - you can't just turn that on and off at will.

If I were you, I'd be a lot less understanding. What is your husband doing in all of this to control his son? If either of my boys so much as laid a finger on their sister, their father would tear them from limb to limb. My dad was the same. Maybe it's a class thing, or maybe we're a bit more old fashioned. But no way, never, not in a million years would I tolerate that from any 11 year old kid.

Droppedinit Tue 11-Jan-11 01:39:03

i agree wiyh above but also with a friend of mine (who has a dog -perhaps no coincidence) who says theonly way to bring up boys is to keep them exhausted all the time... perhaps a long long walk or other exercise is needed each night? bullying continuing though sounds also likely but i think the tiring out will help both...

defineme Tue 11-Jan-11 09:20:13

I'm sorry to contradict you bobbysmum, but many many high functioning autistic people can 'turn off' their most extreme behaviour at school or work.A better way of putting it is that they hold it in. We have adults on here with as who describe how they give the appearance of fitting in when they're a mass of anxiety/confusion inside.

At school Ds1 has never had a tantrum, screamed, hit himself repeatedly in the head, talked obsessively about death, or a zillion other things that he does at home. Ds1 was dx by a paed at 4yrolds, special school has been mentioned for secondary, but going into his classroom and watching him from a distance you might not know he had any special needs-have a conversation with him or look at his work and you would!

If I frightened him severely he might be able to keep some of it inside at home too, but I doubt it.

Tbh, as well as getting professional help from all quarters, I would have probably tried the frightening him severely route re his violent behaviour. I'm not proud of it, but I can be very scary if I want to be. BUT in the long term it probably wouldn't work.

If you post on the special needs section I know there are several regular posters with violent as kids.

Ineedalife Tue 11-Jan-11 17:34:32

I agree with defineme, in the confined rule ridden world that is school, some children with an ASD can function and keep their heads down but this is so exhausting and stressful that they literally explode when they come out of school.

My Dd3 is like this and I worry that she will become more agressive as she gets older.

I would be very worried about the way he treats his sister and would try to keep them separate as much as possible, which I am sure you are already doing.

I think something is happening to him at school but he is unable to articulate it and is showing you in his agression that he is not coping.

mathanxiety Tue 11-Jan-11 17:48:49

I don't know why you and the DH involved your DS in the conference yo mentioned. You are involving the lunatic in the running of the asylum here. Did he get veto power over your suggestions or ideas?

Have him tested for the ASD issue and proceed from there. If it turns out that he is not on the spectrum to any appreciable extent then you and DH need to present him with a united front and stand up to him. No more involving him in decisions made to keep him from beating you up for starters. Make it plain to him you and DH call the shots, that you are united, that you are not afraid of calling in social services or the police if necessary and tell him exactly what will make it necessary (any violence or threats of violence) and then stand by your word. Right now he has you wrapped around his little finger.

hettie Tue 11-Jan-11 20:04:19

This behaviour is not normal, irrespsctive of whether it's a home/school thing. I would seek an urgent referal to your local CAHMS team by going to your doctor and being clear and specific about his behaviours..... hope you get help soon

Medea Thu 13-Jan-11 13:06:02

Thank you everyone x

Toughasoldboots Thu 13-Jan-11 13:17:32

I agree with Hettie- I really feel for you, must be horrendous for the whole family and your poor boy.
The only thing that would spur me on to try and get more urgent practical help is that your dd may well be identified as suffering from domestic abuse and this obviously will have repercussions for you all.

I am not trying to make you feel any worse than you already do, but ss will take the view that your dd is not being protected and kept safe.

Hope you get the help that you deserve.

Phlebas Thu 13-Jan-11 15:03:20

It isn't at all unusual for children with ASD to function well at school while having multiple behavioural issues at home - it is very common.

There is a massive amount of misinformation about ASD on forums & the internet generally (recently on mn I've read that people with ASD don't feel emotions, can't make jokes, aren't affectionate, never smile, can't make eye contact, lick their fingers hmm ) ... really unless you are looking on a specific ASD or SN forum 90% of what you read is complete bollocks.

OmniumAndGatherum Thu 13-Jan-11 15:08:16

My 8-y-o DS has Aspergers, and his behaviour at home, particularly towards his younger sister, is v similar to what you describe. I so feel for you. You have described my life.

Having DS diagnosed was quite helpful for us, as it did help us to understand why he is quite so aggressive (he is very good at school - his school is a very strict boys' school). It does give you something to go on. Likewise, if we'd discovered that DS wasn't on the spectrum, that would have told us something too!

Very best of luck.

Medea Thu 13-Jan-11 21:49:35

That is fascinating, toughasoldboots, phlebus and ominumandgatherum.

DS has worked himself into a frenzy just now and went crazy beating up both me and his father because we've asked him to go to bed.

He developed a nosebleed, spontaneously, as a result of his rage.

His father was tough on him and is continuing to handle the 'situation' now. I had to leave the room because I seem to wind ds up no matter what I do.

I spoke to his teacher today and have managed to get him into after school clubs 4 days of the week so he can be separated from his sister.

His sister is going to stay with a friend this weekend. (I understand and agree about the 'protection' issue.)

Ominumandgatherum: ds also goes to a strict all-boys school. How and when did you get the Asperger's diagnosis? Ds has been having problems since the age of 8 but no one suggested it as a possibility until now. And did the problems arise suddenly, or was there always a hint of Asperger's.

Thank you again everyone.

Nanny0gg Thu 13-Jan-11 22:02:00

Is he 'going off on one' at home, because he goes to a strict all-boys school? He obviously is kept on a tight rein there and he has to let off steam (however inappropriately) somewhere.

Medea Thu 13-Jan-11 22:06:59

Yes, but my friends with boys at that same school don't report that their boys go crazy at home, so I think it's quite specific to him...

OmniumAndGatherum Thu 13-Jan-11 22:15:59

Medea - we sort of suspected for a while, but havered for ages because there were other things that don't necessarily "fit" the Aspergers pattern. It's clear now, though, that there's no specific template: it's a question of the behaviour ticking enough of the boxes. In my DS's case, it was the combination of obsessions and anger. We had hoped he would grow out of the anger, but it is arguably worse now than it was when he was younger (and it's far worse physically, in that he's bigger and stronger). He blows his top, and then acts as if nothing happened, while we are all shellshocked. His younger sister - who winds him up too, which is also something I'm working on - suffers from all of us living on a knife edge.

We eventually consulted DS's Y3 teacher, who agreed that the obsessions were stopping him from forming relationships with his peers (this is another thing he has always struggled with). I rang a couple of people to find out what was involved in the NHS diagnostic procedure, and was sufficiently reassured by what they said. The whole process ended up taking a relatively short time - around six months from initial GP consultation to consultant's diagnosis.

As I say, we did always wonder. DS is super-super-super bright, yet unable to relate to anyone except adults, and has always been that way. If it had turned out that he was not on the spectrum, that in itself would have been useful, though.

I do hope you can find some way to help all of you. I can't say that the diagnosis has made DS any less aggressive towards his sister (Aspergers children can apparently have huge problems with siblings), but it does help to know that he is wired in this particular way.

tryingtobemarypoppins2 Thu 13-Jan-11 22:17:19

Medea I think you need to get to CAMHS urgently. See your GP tomorrow. They will be able to look at the the possibility of Asperger's diagnosis, support for you all, perhaps medication.
IMO, not only is your DD unsafe (knives involved here) but your DS isn't safe either.
It worries me you may wait for an appointment from CAHMS as safe levels are shocking, so consider calling SS and having DS removed if you are not urgently listened to.
My heart goes out to you.

Litchick Thu 13-Jan-11 22:28:29

OP, you really can't allow this level of violence to be used on your DD.
Bruises and black eyes!!!!!
She must be utterly terrified in her own home.

I think you need to get CAHMs involved now.
I think you need to get SS involved now.

I know you are probably resistant, but this can't go on. If your DD is seriously hurt you run the risk of her being removed.

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