Saturday, August 2, 2008

O. D. D.

Well some of you may know that we have had our fair share of trouble parenting our youngest son. Over the 2 1/2 years I have been his mom I have lived under a cloud of doubt and anxiety over some of his behavior. I have been judged, misjudged, angry, hurt, lonely and just basically misunderstood. I have felt guilty and sorry for myself everyday and I have cried many tears. I have felt frustrated and rejected many times by him and others. I guess somewhere in my head I believed it was all my fault that he was "different" I have been told I wasn't stern enough and that I was too stern. "If you just were more structured...or organized" I have been gossiped about and found out later that I was apparently scaring adoptive families because I was "complaining" too much, and that I should stop "complaining" I did this to myself. I don't think people in the end really think about what they say. My all time favorites "Oh my kid does that too" and "He is such and angel can I take him home?"

I have to say that when we adopted our youngest daughter I was hesitant. By the grace of God I never stopped advocating adoption, I never stopped believing adoption was God's plan and will. I just laid down under a blanket of guilt and anger wandering why all of this was happening. "Why did I have so many issues" "It must be adoption, therefore it is me" Some of it is me but...... not all of it.

When we brought Nettie home I realized I could attach to a child, and even older child and that these things weren't just about adoption it was about something else. We saw a child Psychiatrist who happened to also be a Christian. She diagnosed him with something I already knew he had.

One night several months ago, thinking he was autistic, I stumbled across Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I thought to myself, "Well they just have a name for everything don't they?" Even though he fit every symptom he was young and I was just overreacting. I had an easier time thinking he was autistic, it somehow didn't sound as bad to me. So Gary and I hung on to the fact that he may be a child with Aspergers autism. He had an obsession with trains and wheels and trailers that was extreme and he has learning delays, sensory issues like the need to drive over gravel and go on bumps.

The official diagnosis was ODD, ADHD, OCD, and sensory seeking. Well there you go. I join the ranks of the many diagnosed with these problems. The thing is I was judgmental of these things until recently. I felt that doctors over diagnosed, over prescribed, over did.... and if those parents would just feed their kids better and not let them watch so much TV then they wouldn't be having all those problems, and well boys are boys let them run around. I do not feel that way now. There is something and a mom knows when that something is not right. These usually go together and he has mild cases of them and because they are tied together we were told we can medicate but behavior modification would probably work. We were also told that he was just a normal kid and would have a good life. I am glad she said that because with the things going on at home I was beginning to think he would make a good shoe organizer at payless if Doctor wasn't in the future. I know that is horrible. I realize that, but here is the thing, if we can't talk about how we feel and what is going on than what good is any of this? I don't want anyone to ever feel isolated or angry or shunned like I have felt. Yes it is embarrassing if your 4 year old son is crawling on the floor of a restaurant licking feet and screams and slaps your friend in the face and kicks cats. It is hard on the mom and maybe just maybe she needs someone to talk to and not judge her so that she can sort through all the intense emotions it takes to parent a child like this. I know he is an angel for everyone else, I know it must be me. Yes it is. He loves me and feels most comfortable with me so that is who he test the most his family. I know he is sweet and kind and funny and very cute. I know. I live with him. But I also know something else too, something more. It is with the more I need understanding and not judgment or condemnation, I do that enough for all of us. There is more to the whole story, the story is about a boy that came to me just as he was. It is about a child who had a disruption in his central nervous system by being starved, it is about a child who was abandoned on the side of a road and moved around and who couldn't hear a word I was saying not just because English wasn't his first language, but because his ears were so severely blocked. Only to go under the knife and nearly die of morphine overdose. It is about a boy who I thought would just get better at 2, maybe 3, 4 for sure, after his ear surgery, after he started school, after, after, after........ it never happened. It is about healthy attachment for both of us that we never had, it is about starting over.

Here is a bit on ODD, just in case you want to know more. I am not going to label my child or make this who he is, I will probably make jokes about myself and vent every once in a while. This diagnosis was for me and Gary so we could be the parents he needs us to be.

All children are oppositional from time to time, particularly when tired, hungry, stressed or upset. They may argue, talk back, disobey, and defy parents, teachers, and other adults. Oppositional behavior is often a normal part of development for two to three year olds and early adolescents. However, openly uncooperative and hostile behavior becomes a serious concern when it is so frequent and consistent that it stands out when compared with other children of the same age and developmental level and when it affects the child's social, family, and academic life.
In children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), there is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster's day to day functioning. Symptoms of ODD may include:

frequent temper tantrums
excessive arguing with adults
active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
frequent anger and resentment
mean and hateful talking when upset
seeking revenge

The symptoms are usually seen in multiple settings, but may be more noticeable at home


  1. He has a lot in common w/ Noah. I know the sense of relief it brings when you can finally say "It's not just me. I'm not crazy." Even before we got help, just the diagnosis brought relief. Have you read "The Out of Sync Child" yet? It's great for the sensory stuff. I've got some books on ADHD too - I'll look through them when I get home.

  2. Thanks for sharing your heart! It makes me crazy when I hear how people judge parents going through these struggles. I want to learn from these experiences so I can handle my own and my kids' emotions if our family goes through the same types of struggles! Rebecca