My family is quite normal. I am married and we have 3 sons. My family is my world. They give me purpose (typically my daily purpose is to clean after them and play referee, but a job is a job ;) ). I would never trade them for anything.
My boys are quite different, beginning with completely different pregnancies. It is no joke when people tell you each pregnancy and each child is completely different and you will love each of them no matter what.
My oldest son- very typical pregnancy. Sick first 3 months, heartburn and swelling for the entire 9 months. Gained over 60 pounds. I was induced and had no epidural. 15 hours later (only about 6 of that painful) I had a healthy 9 pound 9.5 oz bald baby. Very typical little boy. Hit all the milestones when he was supposed to. Walked a little late, but no big deal. Now he's 10 and is developing into quite the moody pre-teen.
My middle son- very sick through my pregnancy. The only thing I ate was hot pockets...I think I only gained 5 pounds or even lost weight. I was induced and had a lovely epidural. Actual labor about 4 hours. He passed meconium and after a scary delivery I was handed a 9 pound 15 oz dark headed baby. Pretty typical hitting milestones when he was supposed to. Talked a little late, but was so happy all the time. Until about age 2. Then the explosiveness and tantrums began. Chalked it up to terrible 2s....Then it continued into the 3s and 4s and got worse with each year no matter what I did to try to discipline him. Now he is 6 and diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). For a clinical description of ODD click here.
My youngest son- textbook pregnancy. Sick for 3 months, then bliss. Didn't gain any weight (perfectly ok, I was way overweight to start with). I was induced for the 3rd time, got the epidural, it lasted 20 minutes and delivered an 8 pound 10 ounce blond baby after a mere 2 hours of labor.
Now that you know our history, let me explain how to get the most awful looks and unwanted advice anywhere you go. Step 1-wake your ODD child. Step 2-offer them clothing options that they would have accepted yesterday, only to have them send your son into a manic fit equal to having asked him to remove his left foot. Step-3 Have no other options beside taking him with you to the store. Step 4- choose the wrong buggy(cart), go down the aisle that contains what you need. Step 5- explain to your son we are only buying groceries not toys and enjoy being hit, yelled at and groceries knocked off the shelf.....
I've heard all sorts of remarks from 'geez, just give him a good spanking', 'just beat that spoiled brat', 'what a terrible parent', to 'that poor woman'. I also get people giving me suggestions like 'just buy him something little', 'leave him with a sitter', 'try time-outs', etc......Trust me, tried them all and then some.
It's not that often I hear any sympathetic remarks.
I get questions about how we got our diagnosis. While talking to our doctor (physician assistant actually) I described a typical few days for us, his typical reactions to things, and my concern for his safety as well as those around him. (keep in mind, we went to many appointments with our concerns only to have them blown off) When she finally realized there was more to this than a bratty kid, she asked a few questions that ruled out Autism and Asperger's. She came up with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder and told me the only treatments we could do were behavior modification therapy and there was no medication to treat it. I asked for a referral to some place for the therapy and the referral never came. Most of the time I was told no psychologist or psychiatrist in the area treats children under the age of 6.
After a year of researching treatments and any information I could gather on ODD and CD, my husband's cousin told me that her son had ODD and was being treated by a doctor with medication and therapy and had been seeing a local psychologist since before he was 6.
I quickly made an appointment. By this time his kindergarten teacher had already sent home several notes concerning his behavior, we had 1 conference with the teacher and 1 with the principal. She asked me in for a 2nd conference and we learned that their was a counselor that came to the school and saw kids. We quickly signed him up for that.
Our first visit with the doctor was a long one. He asked the typical family history and his medical history. He asked about my son's behaviors and health. He sent us home with a questionnaire (Connors test) for us to fill out and one to give to his teacher to fill out and send back. We went for a follow up appointment and he said based on what we reported and comparing to the teacher's report, our son did not have ADHD or Bipolar disorder. He definitely had Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He started him on the lowest dose of Risperdal (taking 1/2 tab in the morning and 1/2 tab in the evening). That worked well for about a month or 2, then the dose was upped to 1/2 tab in the A.M. and 1 tab in the P.M. After about 3 months Metadate 1x day was added and we have notice a remarkable improvement overall. He has gone from being a roller coaster of emotions, physically violent, emotionally abusive, urinating in heating/cooling vents, urinating in his bed, and barely sleeping at night to more pleasant and easier to redirect, considerably less bed wetting, and sleeping completely through the night.
While the decision to medicate was a difficult one that I fought for quite some time, it ultimately became our only choice. When I was afraid of a 6 year old boy, and his siblings were afraid of him it was time to do something. Even my son has noticed that his medicine has helped. We made sure to include him in the decisions to up doses and add new medications.
Finding support groups for myself and making sure my son has his counselor to talk to has been very helpful to keeping our sanity and finding different ways to cope.
A few helpful books I have found are What Parents Need to Know About ODD, The Explosive Child, and The Defiant Child. While not the only books out there, they are the ones I have found useful. I checked them out at the local library and took notes as I read. We also implemented the Home Token Economy with much success. We even use it for our other 2 children.
If you have any questions about Oppositional Defiant Disorder from a parents perspective, please feel free to contact me!