Friday, May 23, 2014

My journey with my son ADHD, ODD, Sensory Integration & the Unexplained Behavior Issues of a Kid

This is a post that will be continued and updated, so let's start simply with the beginning of our journey. Not an easy thing to write and reflect on as we are still a work in progress. 

From ages 2-5 with constant problems in preschool. We are teachers, well read, and cannot figure out what is going on with our child. He doesn't act Autistic, appears ADHD, but has lots of other issues that were not explainable so we ruled out ADHD. My doctor, friends and family wrote it off as "he's too smart," "he's not being challenged," "the preschool isn't doing their job," and "you are great parents." However, despite being "great" we couldn't shake the feeling that there was something wrong with our son. We explored different programs, read websites and blogs, read books, attended counseling, and the like. Nothing worked for long. If any of this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. A friend pointed out it wasn't behavioral and that is why all the behavioral programs didn't work, even the infamous Nurtured Heart program which I loved. Our sons problems stemmed from misfiring neurons in the brain; and they were right.

run and bolt frequently
run under table to hide
cover his ears
yell and scream during music
have difficult behaviors in structured classroom environment
randomly hit a kid for no reason
Couldn't fall asleep for hours after bedtime
hitting and biting when he didn't get his way
didn't transition well
had difficulty making and keeping friends 
loved to run, crash, jump, and fall down
high pain tolerance
couldn't transition in class
argue with adults-always had to be his way
didn't take naps in preschool and wouldn't be still on cot during quiet time

Diagnosis after pushing, gathering evidence, and requesting more testing:
ODD (oppositional defience disorder)
Sensory Integration Disorder

When asked which of these 3 stands out as the main issue, the answer is Sensory Integration Disorder. So much of the behavior listed above is tied his sensory issues, which also causes symptoms that look like ADHD (although ADHD can be a separate factor too).

Current Treatment: Age 5
Low dose of medicine (extreme mommy guilt when we started this)
Occupational Therapy (through Kaiser)
Music Therapy (Advancedbraintechnology) (through Stowell Learning Center)
QRI (Quantum Reflex Integration) (through Stowell Learning Center)
CORE learning skills (through Stowell Learning Center)
Gluten free (decreased behavior problems even though he does not have Celiac's disease)
No red and yellow food dye- high link to ADHD behavior
Counseling as needed (through Kaiser)
Now testing my middle child since he has similar issues with sensory and ADHD
Headphones as needed to reduce sound (through school and home)
Weighted vest as needed to sensory needs (through school and home)

Changes in Behavior:
No more bolting
Doesn't hide under desk
Doesn't scream and yell with music (still covers ears)
Has several friends at school
Met all his goals for his IEP early so we are revising them again
Doesn't argue as much with adults
Doesn't randomly hit people
Transitions faster and better than before
Falls asleep 30 minutes after being put to bed

I wrote to all his previous preschools, even the one he was kicked out of, to let them know of his diagnosis and thank them for their feedback. They were all supportive and glad to hear my son is doing better. Our journey is far from over, but for the first time, my husband and I see hope and  light at the end of the tunnel. Our hearts are still tender and we still tense up when we get calls from school, but they are rarely about behavior now. We have been accustomed to expect the worse, but we are in this through thick and thin and have a strong family network to support our journey. I would never have believed we would have come so far in a year because I thought, nothing was going to change, no one understands, everyone is going to think we are crazy, and we would forever be "that family who doesn't know how to raise kids." Thanks for reading. I hope it brings you some peace if you are struggling with the same unexplained behaviors as we did/are.

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