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Some one please talk to me about where wildness stops and ADHD starts

(27 Posts)
thesunandtherain Mon 19-Oct-09 15:16:10

DS is four and has always been a handful. He has just started school and while some of the time is a lovely boy to have in the class, at other times his behaviour is unmanagable. Today I was told he might have to leave his swimming lesson (separate from school) as the teacher has to spend so much time telling him to stop, get down, come here etc. She said he might be bored and need the next class up; I fear it is just him being a pita.

He has always been lively. Pre-school contained him pretty well, but always got him to go outside loads to run off his energy. He has been really active since a baby, he runs instead of walks, climb and jumps off anything he can, does not respond to the usual discipline tehcniques that work for his peers and his brother.

ADHD has always been at the back of my mind, but I have hoped as he matured he would get more managable, but he hasn't. Grandparents won't look after him (although my SIL will), though they would my DS1 when he was the same age.

He can concentrate and he has got good social skills - at times. However, about 30% of the time he can be like a wild animal. We had to put a lock on his door, which I really hate, but it is the only way to keep his brother and me safe when he gets really mad, even then he trashes his room and hits the door/furniture with whatever he can. He also will let himself out of the house if we don't hide keys (we used to put them up high, but he climbs and throws things to get them down).

What to do? I am feeling increasingly despairing, especially as I am getting so much negative feedback about him. School haven't said anything formal about strategies etc, but it does like just a matter of time. After he has gone loopy, he is able to know what he has done wrong and say sorry voluntarily, but it doesn't stop it from happening again and again. He has had no major traumas or upheavals in his life, and has an older brother who is quite enerhetci, but not in the same league as DS2.

Sorry this is so long - I suppose what I am asking is what should/can I do??

thesunandtherain Mon 19-Oct-09 15:53:18


stuffitllllama Mon 19-Oct-09 16:01:33

bump for you sunandrain

I don't know, wish I could help. Have wondered at times about one of mine who is fairly quiet but seemed pre-10 to have times of freedom from awareness of any boundaries at all (that's putting it mildly), plus various issues like revolting wildly to any change in his situation. I was always against a formal "diagnosis" because I thought that in the end he would always have to manage without support so we might as well start as we meant to go on.

At times I have felt that was a mistake, and I would if I had my time again look for some help.

However he's now a fairly solid child. We still have difficult times (he's a teen) but I actually don't think he "has" anything. Despite that I think we still would have benefited from strategies early on. If anything it would have given me some management techniques instead of working it out by myself.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is, I think it's worth asking a professional or accepting an offer of help from someone experienced.

As a ps., have you noticed whether his "wild animal" times come after anything he's eaten which might have given him a reaction/sugar rush (even white bread and rice eg) or whatever, I think you know what I mean.

However he is now

flimflammum Mon 19-Oct-09 16:01:59

Wow, that sounds hard to live with. Copy this and post it in the Special Needs topic? Hope you'll find someone who knows something more.

flamingtoaster Mon 19-Oct-09 16:02:07

Sorry to hear you have having such a difficult time - since the behaviour is variable rather than constant the first thing I would do is keep a food diary and see if "bad days" occur when he has eaten particular foods. I know of two children who had uncontrollable periods which disappeared completely when certain foods were removed - gluten in the case of one child (who was on the point of permanent expulsion from school), and milk in another instance.

If no pattern emerges then it would be worth speaking to your GP. I hope you can find a solution.

stuffitllllama Mon 19-Oct-09 16:02:27


don't know what happened there

Pepa Mon 19-Oct-09 16:03:17

I could have written your post about my almost 4 yr old ds - with the one difference that the school have asked us to keep a behaviour diary for the next until Christmas (along with the teacher) to see if we can pinpoint any kind of pattern to his behaviour.

I too have wondered when does general unrulyness become ADHD....

Its just so tough when all the feedback is negative and you just want your child to be seen for his whole character - not just the 'difficult' aspects.... sad

biggirlsdontcry Mon 19-Oct-09 16:08:20

hi , sorry you are having a bad time , my ds was tested at 6yrs for ADHD (not sure if they can test any younger than this ) the school recommended we get him tested because he was such an active child , we went to our gp who organised a hospital appointment for the testing , it took about an hour & we were told he did not have ADHA before we left the hospital , turns out he was just an " active child" , he is 10yrs now & has calmed down , so please try not to worry too much , smile

jellyhead Mon 19-Oct-09 16:10:57

If you are worried speak to your ds's teacher and tell her your concerns.
Also you can ask to speak to the school SENCO.
He is only 4 so it is difficult at that age to second guess if their behaviour will continue or calm down.
My ds1 is 10 and has ADHD but presented in a dreamy,quiet fiddled with everything way.
DS2 is 5 and currently being diagnosed but presented in a WHAM in your face way.
He can't keep still at school to save his life !
The school nurse has also been helpful with ds2 and you can still speak to your health visitor.
There are some helpful books too. The Christopher Greene ADHD book highlighted lots of things for us.
Sorry it is so stressful. I had to take ds2 out of junior taekwondo lessons as he was practically getting one to one teaching to manage him, I was so upset so have total emphathy with how you are feeling.
Saying that though lots of 4 years old can behave this way and have no diagnosis.
Hope some more posts come soon

thesunandtherain Mon 19-Oct-09 16:23:18

Thank you so much for your posts. It is lovely to get some support. I am off to cook tea, but will read properly later once DS is in bed (he does sleep well, thanks goodness, which I put down to his activity levels during the day).
At the moment, he is calmly watching TV, but has already had to go to his room for throwing stones at the house, switching the hose on and spraying the bikes, and running off when reprimanded (all in the time it took me to put some washing on). He then threw all his lego liberally around his room.

He did then tidy the lego up (on his own, no prompting), say sorry (no prompting) and have a cuddle...

I am really torn. I will be back later. Thanks again.

biggirlsdontcry Mon 19-Oct-09 16:36:06

sending you <hugs> , i was sooo worried & upset over my ds when he was that age , so much so that the stress the school put on me about him having some sort of "special needs" i am convinced that is why my baby was born four weeks early , it was a nightmare for us all , my ds was so soft & affectionate just very active , in the end we had to have him tested for every possible disorder going & he came back negative on every test , then we were told he qualified to skip a year in school as he was 2.5yrs in advance in reading , maths etc .

ICANDOTHAT Mon 19-Oct-09 17:07:09

My DS2 is dx ADHD (7yo). I have 2 boys and DS1 was also very lively, however there is a difference between that and ADHD. DS2 cannot, and I mean literally, cannot help himself. It first surfaced when he started school (I just thought he was a hyper pre-schooler before that). Lots of immature behaviour, running about, hiding under tables, silly talking, rough play etc. We also had problems doing general stuff like shopping, visits to friends and family days out. He wasn't naughty as such, just like a hurricane had passed through wherever we had been. He has a great personality, is incredibly sensitive (I believe that kids who get a hard time for being a pita are more aware of people then others who don't), is a social animal, has a wicked sense of humour and loves to talk. The only way I can describe him is ... it's like he is veiled and can't get the cover off iyswim. He knows when he's been silly and we have lots of tears over it - lots of apologies and regrets afterwards. He is however, getting better with age and as he grows up, his behaviour is less hyper. I would suggest looking seriously at his diet - no artificial colours, flavours, aspartame or preservatives. Give him Omega 3,6, & 9 and Zinc supplements - these helped my ds enormously. Make sure he's hearing and seeing properly. This would be the first thing a GP would probably suggest anyway. My ds is not on medication, just high on life grin. Sorry, that was a bit long....

thesunandtherain Mon 19-Oct-09 21:12:05

Lots to think about here. I wish there was 'a test' so we could know for sure, but it seems like ADHD can be diagnosed as an extreme on the spectrum of active, immature boy behaviour iyswim? At what point does the behaviour become a diagnosis?

I have thought about food, however, even as a tiny baby he was very active and physical and vocal. He only has milk or water to drink, and doesn't get processed foods, so if it is diet that is affecting him, it would be a huge trial and error to find out what. There is no pattern to his behaviour - it can be first thing in the morning or at any time. It is worse when he is tired, but he can be devil-like even when rested. He has been having fish oils since forever. No idea if he is worse without them, he is definetely worse if he can't run around like a mad thing.

When I think about it, I have coped with 'how he is' for ever - making sure plans are made that won't send him over the edge. Going to other people's houses is very hard and I feel very stressed at what he might do. Up until now, people have been able to put it down to toddler-dom, but he is over 4 now, and should be better house-trained surely?

I think I will see what comes from the school in the next few weeks. At the first muttering of asssessment, I will jump to it. Until that point, maybe I should see if they can employ some positive behaviour strategies as at the moment they are coming down hard on him and it is very counter-productive. He is asleep now, and looks so young and sweet, and it is then that I go back to thinking 'he is only young'. Aargh!

Thansk for your words of wisdom - it feels a relief to be heard iykwim.

DevilsEnticeMadness Mon 19-Oct-09 21:24:28

I have been there bought that t-shirt and now have a tamed (mostly) ds. In the end for me it wasnt ADHD. Still being investigated/wathced for various stuff but i can offer a few things that do work with ds:

Ds has a sleep disorder on a bad night he can be up every 30mins for 30mins after and initial 2 hour sleep. on a good night it could have been 8 hours with only up once. He now has sleep meds which makes a big difference. How is he sleeping? Is this part of the situation?

Before the sleep meds i have used calming activities combined with specific wild activities eg. if i know ds had to be calm and quiet for X then before or on promise of after he was taken to do something that didnt require him to behave and be calm such as a big field with a ball. Also i find a bath calms him down when he gets into a rage. He gets shoved in clothes and all. He is encouraged to take his clothes off and put in a sink when calm enough.

Also I have found that removing fructose (including a number of fruit sources), corn syrup, artificial colours and preservatives from his diet has helped alot.

Omega 3 suppliments have helped to calm him just enough to employ some standard parenting tacticks. it is not a solution but a door/route in.

Dont expect all/any to work but some are easy enough to try. Hope you get somewhere.

plus3 Mon 19-Oct-09 21:51:43

Hello have just been through the first half of this term (Yr1) with the teacher suggesting my DS had 'something'. He was unable to sit still, apparently not concentrating and aggressive at playtime. I was in pieces about it - wasn't the report we had had from reception, although there were aspects that were niggling at the back of my head too.

This evening we have had parents evening, and the teacher couldn't have been more complimentarly. She praised his intelligence, admitted that he still fidgets but not to the extent it was at the start of the term and is generally settling down now.

There is a form that as a parent you can use called a Conners form (put it into google) it is a list of behaviours that you rate as 'occassionally' 'often' or 'constantly' it needs to be marked by someone, but looking at it would give you an idea of some of the behaviour types that may go hand in hand with ADHD.

hope this helps and good luck - you aren't the only one!

thesunandtherain Mon 19-Oct-09 22:42:50

Oh, I do so hope that given time his good qualities will start to overshadow his bonkers ones. However, I am not sure whether to sit and wait or risk getting him labelled when it might not be necessary.

He sleeps just fine - asleep by 7.30 most nights, up about 6.30. He is generally pretty whacked so as long as he has his dummy shock, he sleeps fine. He wakes occasionally with growing pains, but sleep is defeintely not an issue for him. He also naps twice a week if he gets a chance.

Having a bath tends to crank him up a bit, as does having people around, or someone telling him off. He sometimes grabs his friends and they have to pull away as he is too enthusiastic, and can be aggressive when thwarted or teased, but by nature looks out for other people and tries to take care of them.

Oh, what to do? I asked his pre-school out right a year ago, and they said they didn't think he needed assessment, yet at the moment, he does seem to be ticking a lot of ADHD boxes.

DevilsEnticeMadness Tue 20-Oct-09 07:04:37

Based on that information i would say IME dont always believe what nurserys cay about assessments, most have to pay for the assessment out of their budget so will do anything to get out of it (exception are school attached nursery/pre-schools).
WHat i would do is try to get a book about being friends where you can use it as an in direct tool to talk about your ds' behaviour to him. eg a story where someone didnt want to be friends because they were being treated rough etc by some and why that person (in the story) didnt want to be friends and how they felt. Will try to dig a out a few of the ones I have used this evening for you. This stops confrontation which means he can then think about the effects of the behaviour. Once he has grasped that you can build on it to work towards getting him to associate the effect of behaviour to his behaviour. Its a fairly long process but will work as you can use things on tv/rl as other examples.

I have, in the past taken ds to visit his friends on the basis that he understands that if he gets too rough we leave. I have taken the buggy if walking (he was a bit younger though) to shove in. At the moment he started to behave he gets 1 warning "if you want to stay you need to calm down/stop hitting X/stop throwing Y" He does it again I appologise and leave. It only takes a couple of times before they realise you really mean what you say and trips out can calm down. Key is not to shout or sound cross. If possible something to avoid having to drag him physically down the street is advisable.

I would suggest talking to school about you concerns. I have the situation at the mo where i get a significant number of problems with ds' behaviour at home but he behaves totally different at school because he loves the school experience and there is so much going on to keep his flitty attention. Its much harder at home to provide an environment that is so stimulating. So it might be a lack of social skills which is very common amongst this age group combined with a short concentration span that is causing your issues.

sorry for the essay. you will get there but it is going to take time and effort.

thesunandtherain Tue 20-Oct-09 09:55:39

Thanks Devils, that was a lovely long message!
I have to say that while DS can be too rough sometimes, his social skills are well developed, as long as he is calm. Pre-school said he had met all the ELGs in that section as he could empathise, was good at turn taking etc etc. The problem is when he goes loopy, it all goes out of the window. He has made a lot of friends in school as he is funny and full of ideas and will comfort others when they are upset.

However, if he is in his bonkers mode he will just rampage around. That is what I meant about going to friend's houses - he will tear through knocking stuff over and get totally over-excited. He will just run off and laugh in your face if reprimanded. At that point he has to be physically removed as he has no chance of calming down in situ.

Looking back on my posts shows my dliemma - at times he is a lovely, caring soul. At others he is an aggressive pita, who just doesn't care about anything, anyone or sanctions. Now, is that side to him immaturity or a reflection of a wider issue?

Talking this through on here is really helping - thanks.

tryingtoleave Tue 20-Oct-09 11:12:51

We've been using diet to deal with ds's behaviour and it has made a big difference. If you're interested have a look at this site It's a research-based diet, we've been doing it with a dietician, but it's apparently not much known outside Australia.

ICANDOTHAT Tue 20-Oct-09 12:31:39

I think that if you are truly worried that his behaviour is not NT ... then you need to talk with your GP and asked for a referral to a pediatrician - in fact, insist on one. Write everything down and let them know this is really getting to you and remember to be honest. I found that when I went with my gut instinct, I was generally right. You don't have to go via the school and remember, waiting lists are long. This way you will have your mind either put at rest or support given to your ds should he need it. They may however, be reluctant to assess as he is so young, it depends where you are. We had a pediatrician, SALT, OT and child psychologist involved with my DS's dx.

thesunandtherain Tue 20-Oct-09 13:41:47

That's the trouble ICDT - I am not sure! My gut is telling he it isn't, but I know for all his life he has been far more difficult to manage than any other children I know.

I guess I am asking here and now because of the school thing - I expected him to be more managable by now, and while he is a bit, in lots of ways he isn't. I am wondering whether I haven't asked for help earlier because he doesn't really need it, or because I am being blind and not wanting him labelled. Aargh!

Re food issues. I again swing from thinking it is a load of bunkum to wondering if it could be the cause. His issues really don't seem to relate to times of day/food but rather environments hmm

DevilsEnticeMadness Tue 20-Oct-09 18:20:19

With regards to food it takes about 30mins from intake to kick (due to how the diestive system works) and can take as long as 48hours for the effect to wear off. it is so bad that if anyone if foolish enough to give him grapes or colouring they have automatically earnt 48hours of babysitting the devil child result. i will not put myself in the line of the result. Believe me, his gran on his dad's side only made that mistake once and she wasnt even left with him on her own. She is super carefull these days. But the moral of the story is that the effects wont necessarily be linked to a particular point in time.
What scares me is the other effects that the additivies can have. For example there are colourings and preservative with links to cancer but because it is an effect that
occurs over long intake it is considered safe hmm

I would still suggest the omega 3 suppliments as these helped ds cope in situations which he found difficult. I have had the lack of respect for discipline thing and for me i employed the dog whisper technique. Calm, quiet, strong, consequences.
This might seem harsh but broke the cycle with ds, especially as he had no attachment to toys or anything at the time.

1. warning
2. sent to bedroom
3. left for 5 - 10mins
4. If during time you have to:

put back = "beacuse you came out of your bedroom, you will have to stay in there until I am ready for you to come out.
asked to come = "you will come out when i am ready for you to come out"

Then add a couple of minutes.

5. You can come out when your bedroom is tidy. (ime the room gets trashed to start off with) If needed to give direction pick up the books and put them...
6. If not done Give 3 warnings - leave max of hour. Last warning being "you have 10mins to tidy you bedroom otherwise i am going to take anything that is on the floor away for a week"
7. Go back remove items and put into storage for week
Any request for toy being you decided not to put them away so you can have them back on X day/next week.

2 trips to bedroom ends in a screen ban. No tv, no computer for the remaining day. Protests get an extra day for each protest. Continued problems get added day.

Importantly make a rule to spend 5-10mins each evening doing something eg play a game. but if behaviour has been an issue then "I was really looking forward to doing X/playing X with you. But you decided to Y and I only play games/do things with good boys"

It seems really harsh - even just writing it down but this is what turn a corner with ds. I did find that the first week i often had to hold the door shut for an hour or two for him to get the idea of staying in his room and he spent most of the first 3 days in his his bedroom. It was emotionally draining but now on the whole he knows not to push it. Unfortunately we are having a blip and i will have to be stricter for a few days. but it is a maintainace thing, when he is trying to push it.

ICANDOTHAT Tue 20-Oct-09 21:51:54

TheSun.. You mention that it has become more apparent since he started school. Remember, we put our children under immense stress starting formal education so young in this country - it's CRAP! Asking a small boy (or girl for that matter) to sit down, listen and be quiet hardly respects their natural development. Some find it tricky and others are simply immature and developing at different rates. All schools require at this stage is co-operation from the child and if they don't get it, they will sometimes label and give them and you a hard time. Maybe you need to take a step back, take a deep breath and let them implement strategies to help him in school - in fact ask them exactly what they are doing to 'help him access the curriculum?' they'll love you for that ... not !. At home, I use 1-2-3-Magic (book etc on Amazon). Simple, but very effective. Took about 7 days for my ds to realise that when I started counting his behaviour, I meant business. These days I rarely get to 3 smile

thesunandtherain Wed 21-Oct-09 14:02:40

ICDT - I agree with you totally about the school system, I do think DS would benefit from another 6 months at pre-school. However, it is not his behaviour at school that is causing my issues so much as the fact that in my head I had assumed that by the time he was school age, he would have matured. He is now at school, and I still have to treat him like a bomb about to go off. Can I still put his issues down to immaturity, or is there actually a problem?

I have heard a lot about that Magic 1,2,3 book here - will go and have a look.

Devils - you behaviour technique sounds a lot like what we do at home. DS also doesn't have any attachment to possessions, so taking things away from him has little power. Not allowing TV is a sanction that works, but even that isn't enought to stop him from losing it. I do try to keep things calm and quiet when disciplining, but he will run off, or put pingers in ears, go 'blah, blah, blah' or blow raspberries. I recognise that there is no point at this stage and just take him (physically pick him up) to his room.

I suppose in addition to figuring out whether he needs investigation, I need to work on triggers to his behaviour. As yet, it seems very random though hmm.

As for food - we have no history of issues in the family; DS has a good diet, lots of veg (only apples as fruit), very little processed (one pack of crisps and a few biscuits per week maybe?). I think trying to establish a food connection would be very tricky hmm

This thread has been hugely useful - thanks all for your input. I will see how we and school are finding him till parents eve, and then make my decision about whether to pursue things after that. Ta!

Exasperated Wed 21-Oct-09 16:06:03

Oh poor you. Just about to post about my DS which isn't quite as bad as your situation. My big advice is to talk to the school, they really are the professionals who would be able to to help. Our parents evening has just been cancelled due to swine flu so perhaps don't leave it.
Take comfort in the fact they haven't raised issues already, I've just been summoned.

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