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DS6 - his teacher thinks he may have ODD

(38 Posts)
PrinceCorum Wed 11-Jun-14 10:00:10

feeling pretty depressed - our DS6 (soon to be 7) is going through a phase (for about 3 months) of being defiant to his class teacher at school - saying "no" and refusing to engage in some class activities. His teacher wants us to take him to the GP and has mentiond oppositonal defiant disorder. I'm just not convinced though and am in a quandary. I will speak to her about it, of course, and give consideration to the idea of a GP consultation (which I guess might lead to a referral to a child psychologist), but I'd love to hear your advice/experience.

Here's the thing - yes he can be defiant, both at home and school - he's often argumentative, defiant at home. But he can go for a week at school and be fine, and long periods at home and be fine. I've read up about ODD and I'm not 100% convinced it describes him. He doesn't have ADHD or any other disorder.

I have to say at the back of my mind I'm wondering if the teacher just wants some label to be put on him to make her feel better for the fact that she can't always get him to do what she wants him to do.

Am I wrong to want to know what the teacher can do to work with my child to improe his behaviour? I feel a little bit as though saying "maybe he should see the GP" is a knee-jerk reaction to any behaviour they don't have an answer to. I do worry that we look to label children with difficult behaviour and medicalise them when it's not always needed.

I'm not saying ADHD or ODD aren't real - I don't want to get into that debate. But I am worried that, in a class that seems to be full of goody two shoes kids who never seem to misbehave my DS stands out not because he is clinically ODD but just that he's a bit strong willed.

Anyone else gone through this quandary ?

Revised Wed 11-Jun-14 10:09:13

Hmm, well if he's the only child in the class who misbehaves, the teacher obviously does have some ability in managing behaviour!

I feel the same as you about labels and would far rather behaviour issues are dealt with by way of string parenting if that's at all possible but as the teacher has raised it, I think it's likely that this is more than just being strong willed. It sounds like he's disrupting the class and taking the teacher away from actually teaching so something does need to be done.

What behaviour management techniques are you and the teacher currently using?

Davsmum Wed 11-Jun-14 10:33:50

It could just be a personality thing - and perhaps has not been dealt with in a way that works.
All children are different and have different personalities. Some are strong willed and more of a challenge and they won't know how to 'stop' being a 'nuisance' unless they have firm boundaries and are taught in a consistent way
Anything about a child's behaviour is called some sort of disorder these days. It is too easy to label a child.

PrinceCorum Wed 11-Jun-14 10:34:13

He's not the only one who bisbehaves (for example he is one of three kids to have a 'home school bok' in which he either gets smily or sad faces for his behaviour each day) but from what I hear about what counts as misbehaviour these days it is much milder than when I was at school in the 1970s-1980s...

Anyway, I'm not sure what the teacher is using - I am seeking a meeting with her to discuss. We are trying to use descriptive praise as a new technique, time out and reward schemes right now.

Revised Wed 11-Jun-14 11:09:46

Sorry, I thought you said he was: "in a class that seems to be full of goody two shoes kids who never seem to misbehave my DS stands out not because he is clinically ODD but just that he's a bit strong willed."

It is certainly true that the standards of behaviour in most schools today are far higher than they were in the 70/80s. That is a good thing for everyone.

I don't know whether he has ODD or not and I agree with you that it's better not to label but I do think you need to approach this from the POV that there is a problem and the school is working with you to resolve it, rather than trying to pretend that your son isn't that badly behaved.

PrinceCorum Wed 11-Jun-14 11:13:41

There's no pretending going on Revised. But my understanding of ODD is that it is pretty constant and not one week OK the next not, as my DS seems to be. I'm also not sure how the teacher thinks a label of ODD will suddenly help her control him in the classroom. maybe it will make her feel better if she can't...a better approach would have been for her/the school to have asked us to come in and work out some strategies to try, rather than shout "GP, GP" I would have thought

lljkk Wed 11-Jun-14 11:17:31

what was he like in reception & yr 1? Did he have similar problems then?

Teacher won't be qualified to diagnose ODD. I think my niece got her diagnosis at 5yo (different country). She was precocious genius & ran rings around adults.

I was up at high school today to talk about DS (now yr5, often defiant complete PITA) to the SEN unit.

Because DS is not currently on the SEN register I could tell that he would go straight over onto their system of lots of escalating punishments. If he was on SEN-register or had a "label" they would be so much more supportive & sympathetic right from the start.

If I were OP I'd grab any certified label going if I thought it remotely fit and these problems are likely to recur. At least my DS has a history of IEPs which may help get him some support and faster movement onto Action-something (their programme for kids needing support).

AllThatGlistens Wed 11-Jun-14 11:22:02

I can completely understand you feeling defensive, but I would approach this from a different angle.

Teachers don't tend to mention a GP visit without having some concern for a child. This is clearly disruptive and it will be affecting his education.

I would absolutely continue working with him as you are, but would also discuss the issues that have been raised with your GP and get their opinion.

Labels don't harm a child by the way, they can be an excellent gateway to oat of support they wouldn't otherwise receive - I'm speaking as a mum to one neurotypical DD and 2 boys with severe SEN smile

CinnabarRed Wed 11-Jun-14 11:23:58

I have a friend whose DS has a diagnosis of ODD. She tells me that the techniques for helping a child with ODD achieve his best (and to manage poor behaviour) are very different from those one would typically use for a child without ODD, and sometimes counter-intuitive. I wonder if his teacher is coming at it from that perspective?

Also, a diagnosis might allow additional resources to be made available in the classroom, to the benefit of your DS (and the rest of the class, if he is disrupting lessons).

I too would come at this as: there is something going on here with DS, not sure what yet, but let's work with the school to find out.

lljkk Wed 11-Jun-14 11:26:33

I kind of thought medication was very rare with ODD. Worth researching.

PrinceCorum Wed 11-Jun-14 11:33:56

I appreciate the thoughts, adn the time to contribute to the thread, but also exert my right not to fully agree with everything being said here.

"labels don't harm a child". I'll reserve judgement on that one, having a well-thumbed copy of "Pygmalion in the Classroom" on my shelf (classic text on self-fulfilling prophecy effects in the classroom setting). I'm sure there are many teachers for whom labels won't make a negative difference, but there are many also who will see nothing but the label. I also wonder how anyone can say labels don't harm a child if they can lead to medicating a child with Ritalin and the like in sometimes questionable circumstances (Ritalin undoutedly helps some of course).

What I'm hearing from AllThatGlistens and lljkk is that labels have had a positive impact on you and your children - I hear this loud and clear, but I'm not sure we can extrapolate that to all cases and scenarios.

lljkk Wed 11-Jun-14 11:37:36

Assuming you even get a diagnosis (can be impossible) you could always decline the medications (assuming they are even offered).

Was he absolutely fine in reception & yr1?

CinnabarRed Wed 11-Jun-14 11:39:02

What I'm hearing from AllThatGlistens and lljkk is that labels have had a positive impact on you and your children

Add my friend to the list. She says that changing the way she manages her DS's behaviour has had a really positive impact.

I'm not sure, TBH, if her DS's school even knows of his diagnosis. She's never mentioned it but it's possible that in obtaining his diagnosis the clinician contacted his school.

PrinceCorum Wed 11-Jun-14 11:39:26

He had one or two blips in reception and Yr1 - mainly not listening, but no defiance issues. Ditto at nursery - no issues at all.

lljkk Wed 11-Jun-14 11:39:48

"Oppositional defiant disorder is generally not treated with medication in the UK, but with a behavioural approach."

lljkk Wed 11-Jun-14 11:42:39

It's June already... I think if I were OP I'd wait until October of yr3 & see if my son had settled down with yr3 teacher. OP's son may still need extra support later, but this is sounding more like a blip & pursuing it as anything else would be a hassle.

Still, keep openminded about the value of labels in case problems recur.

DS has trouble everywhere he goes: home, school, clubs, with friends, etc. Only label label available for him are words like "brat" (sigh).

PrinceCorum Wed 11-Jun-14 11:44:22

Yes indeed lljkk I'm aware of that, though it is often found to be co-morbid with ADHD or ASD, for which medication is often suggested.

mrssprout Wed 11-Jun-14 11:47:46

We cared for a little boy with ODD for many years. No medication was recommended by the paediatrician as useful. He could be the most helpful, lovely, compliant child if he wanted to. This could go on for days at a time then out of the blue he would decide not to comply with a reasonable request & off he would go. He would randomly come up to us & say...I'm going to be naughty now....& he would kick off for no apparent reason. In my experience ODD is a very random type of problem & completely different from the little boy with ADHD we cared for. If there is any chance this is more than him being just more strong willed than the average child his age I would strongly suggest checking it out now as from my experience as they get older it gets harder, not just for you & the school but for the child. Of course having a label will make no difference to the behaviour but it may help know the best ways to deal with any defiance in a way that may work better

PrinceCorum Wed 11-Jun-14 11:50:16

OK let's change tack for a moment - assuming DS is diagnosed ODD - how is the school likely to deal with that - SEN register, IEP, ?

CatsCantTwerk Wed 11-Jun-14 11:59:44

Sorry Op I have no advice but I have had a similar situation arise in the last week, I was going to post about it but got scared.

Basically my ds (8) has been going to cubs since last october. Last week when I went to pick him up the leader pulled me to one side and asked if ds was statemented and if he was not why not. I was completely taken aback by this.

There was 4 leaders there all together and I felt so intimidated by it all, They were saying that my ds has adhd. They wanted to know what plans the school had in place to deal with it. I explained that my ds does not have adhd and that I work closely with the school and without a doubt if they had any concerns they would have spoken to me.

They carried on to say there is another boy in the pack who is diagnosed with adhd and that my ds was MORE adhd than him confused
They said that because my ds is exceptionally good at maths and has a great memory that is is also a sign of someone on the spectrum.

Looking back now I really wish I had stood up to them a bit better about what they were saying but I was so shocked that I just didn't really know what to say.

I got home and cried, I know my ds is lively but that really is just who he is, I have friends with dc who have adhd and there are no similarities what soever.

I went into the school to speak to the teacher about what was said and they were just as shocked as I was, They have told me that that they have no concerns at all and as they see him 5 days a week rather than the leader at cubs only 1.5 hours a week they are in a much better position to say what he is like generally.

I'm still quite upset by at all really and worried about going back there as I'm sure they think I am sticking my head in the sand on the matter when that really is not the case.

Toapointlordcopper Wed 11-Jun-14 12:02:55

One of my children has PDA which is similar in a some ways to ODD. This child can go for days without an incident if every single day conforms to this child's expectations. It is only when random events or outcomes occur that we have total meltdown. I have no idea if this is the same with your child, but if it is then dx and better understanding can only help.

Your child is far more likely to be written off by the teachers if he is considered NT but just rude and poorly behaved than if he is considered to have SN dx.

AllThatGlistens Wed 11-Jun-14 12:32:16

Well we can certainly agree to disagree smile

I don't think a well thumbed book can relate to the experiences of real families, and of course everyone's experience of provision will vastly differ, but I do think there's been a big shift away from the school of thought that says labelling is harmful.

My elder DS continues to flourish and far exceed his educational expectations because of the extra support having a label has given him, not in spite of it.

He's proud of who he is, his diagnosis doesn't define him.

I wish you the very best whatever course you decide to take smile

AllThatGlistens Wed 11-Jun-14 12:35:24

And I don't know of any child on the ASD spectrum that is medicated specifically for that.

Autism as a condition is not medicated for, a pharmacological treatment for it doesn't exist confused

systemsaddict Wed 11-Jun-14 13:23:44

I was wondering about PDA too, from your description. My son has ASD with some PDA traits.

For us it has helped a lot having a label and diagnosis - we haven't got a statement (and he's been taken off his IEP, woo-hoo), it's more that once it was in that frame, the teachers could use different strategies to manage his behaviour. He always had a label, it's just shifted from 'naughty and uncooperative' to 'prone to sensory overload and demand overwhelm' which puts him in a much better place to get the help in the classroom he needs. For him this is about being able to go somewhere quiet if necessary, and teachers learning to recognise when they can push him and when it is better to back off and / or use different strategies (humour especially).

The only thing about waiting to see how he settles down next year for a referral for assessment is that referrals take so long to come through to any kind of action, it would be the autumn or later even if you go and speak to a GP now. If all has settled down by September / October you can always cancel!

lljkk Wed 11-Jun-14 13:40:52

"how is the school likely to deal with that - SEN register, IEP, ?"

I dunno if it varies where you are. Here being on the SEN-register means you have an IEP, and having an IEP means being on the SEN-R.

The IEP is a plan of actions & targets.

Getting an actual diagnosis of ODD or PDA is probably very difficult, some controversy about whether they even exist.

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