After taking Huck off the last anti-depressant, when we went to his psychiatrist the doctor decided to start on a different non-stimulant. Huck was prescribed 1 mg of Tenex, a blood pressure medication sometimes used for children with ADHD. The doctor is hopeful that this medication will give Huck more time to think about his reactions. Huck’s been on it for a week and I think it’s making things worse again. We had some time where Huck was off the other medication and his defiance wasn’t so bad. However, he seems back to his tantrums every day, defiant behavior, and now he is refusing to eat. Friday he would not eat breakfast or dinner at home (I’m pretty sure that he ate his school lunch). He finally ate almost at 2:00 on Saturday. And then today he refused lunch and wouldn’t eat dinner until almost 7:00. I’m not sure what he’s trying to prove, but we have food available at all times, healthy options, as well as juice and milk, so it is up to him to decide.
His counselors have started a new incentive plan with Hubby and my agreement. In the next month before winter league basketball registration, Huck has to have 12 “good” days and then he can play. Granted, he’s had no “good” days thus far (especially considering the refusal to eat). So we’ll see if that works out for him or not. They originally wanted to do 17 days but Hubby was concerned that we were setting him up to fail.
We also decided upon a new strategy for his bathrooming issues. After several weeks of full peeing his pants at school, we’ve decided to stop giving it any attention. They will no longer discuss it in counseling since he’s only been lying to his counselors about it anyways. We will no longer call attention to it at home, as Hubby used to check with him every night to see if he was clean. So Huck, who is now 8 and a half years old, was given the choice to wear underwear and choose to be clean, or wear diapers. He chose diapers. So we have told him that it is under his control and we will be ready with underwear whenever he is. Hubby is very hopeful that it will be soon! I am not so sure. He’s said to us and to his counselors that he just needs to stop at recess and go to the bathroom (I’ve told him to go before recess), but that hasn’t happened yet. So who knows how long he’ll be in diapers.
We live this every day, and it’s so hard to explain to others. The reactions that children have, even if they are now in a loving home, their ability to focus, their need for any kind of attention, their maturity, their ability to take criticism… it was all decided long ago when they were neglected for years. And even in a warm, loving and caring home their brains will not recover from the damage. Kids that have been neglected don’t just “get over it.” The damage I’m talking about is living in 11 different homes in 5 years, all before reaching 4th grade, 2nd grade, or 1st grade. We have to do better for our kids. We have to break the cycle.
If you google “Reactive Attachment Disorder,” about a half a million results come up immediately. It’s a well documented concern with adopted children, or children that have gone through immeasurable trauma and neglect. When we first accepted placement of our three adopted kiddos, we were concerned with the youngest, Scarlett, and RAD. We did a lot of reading and perusing online articles. I read “The Connected Child” like all good adoption forums will recommend. Our fears of RAD with Scarlett were quashed very shortly after their placement as she settled in. Scarlett is very much a middle child and gets her feelings very hurt if she feels that someone has gotten more of something than her–time, presents, clothes, etc. But she does not have RAD.
We’ve only had placement of our children for just over a year. This is nothing in terms of fostering an attachment in child development. And yet, it feels like 25 years! Hubby and I have become adept at changing our parenting strategy, with kind of a trial and error, in order to find what works. This week we had to work on some strategy in order to get Huck back in a good place. I made the executive decision to cut off his anti-depressants. I am concerned that the medicine was causing him to become agitated. Sure enough, the lack of medicine seems to be much better. (He was only on 10 mg for about 3 or 4 days before we noticed the agitation. It was not noticeably present after 5 mg). We’ve also been working really hard to lighten up on a few things and stand united where we’ve decided we need to draw the line. We’ve been looking for behavior to praise and doing so above and beyond. He seems to be responding well. This morning he seemed to be a in a good humor, didn’t pick fights with anyone like he had for the last month. We’ve made it clear to him what is punishable (peeing pants, yelling/being disrespectful) and what the consequences are. Now we are just keeping the line and lightening up about other things. The true test will be this weekend when he is home more!
I’ve been sharing our heartbreaking problems with Huck. He’s in a vicious cycle of bad behavior and consequences with no relenting. He’s lying at home and at counseling. He’s being rude to his siblings and defiant to his parents. He’s throwing tantrums and having meltdowns at home and at counseling. He’s in an intensive program for trauma, but we’re not seeing any advantages right now. His new antidepressant seems to only make him more agitated. Hubby and I are at the end of our rope, trying to figure out what we can do to help him and make it better. We’ve not had this bad of behavior for a long time. It feels like it’s constantly escalating and we don’t know where it’s going to end up. I had a long conversation with him last night before bed. I was hopeful that we came to some sort of agreement on what is acceptable behavior and what he can do to let out negative feelings. Then this morning he went right back to where he was before. So I don’t know what to do!
Huck had his re-evaluation for counseling last week and the doctor added a rule-out of RAD. Right now his diagnosis is PTSD and he’s getting counseling under that diagnosis. But it doesn’t account for the behavior we’ve been seeing for the last couple of months. Huck’s psychiatrist was leaning toward ODD, or Oppositional Defiance Disorder, but the doctor at his trauma counseling was more apt to say RAD. Considering that most behavior is aimed at me, his primary caregiver. He doesn’t have all the symptoms, like lack of eye contact. This diagnosis doesn’t really change his therapy or medication. I’m not sure it’s even true. But it’s difficult to live with, whatever he’s going through!
As y’all know, we’ve been dealing with serious defiance from Huck. This morning, he refused to get ready for school. He wouldn’t eat his breakfast, he wouldn’t go upstairs to change, etc. So I took him to school in his pajamas (he had on fleece Iron Man pants and a tshirt from one of our vacations, not really anything embarrassing). He refused to get out of the car when we arrived at school.
He comes home today and complained to his teacher, who then sent him to the nurse to get clothes to wear for the day.
I am beyond irate. Maybe I just need some time to cool off. But here is a kid that is screaming at me on the way to school that “it’s all your fault” (meaning mine) and then he gets “saved” at school by his teacher and the school nurse? I have to “launder and return the used article to the school nurse as soon as possible.” I feel like writing a note back that I’d really prefer if my kids had to suffer the logical consequences of their action and not be saved. Is this too much? I’m trying to teach him a lesson and I don’t have support from school for sure!
We’ve been having lots of behaviors from Huck. Again. Still. Last week he was referred by his trauma counseling program to see a psychiatrist. We’re hopeful we won’t have to wait months for that appointment! In the mean time, this can help all of us when reacting to children. I know patience gets spread thin sometimes, but we can’t expect good reactions if we are hostile towards them!