My son is 8 years old, has ADD, a high functioning form of Asperger's and I think ODD. He is very intelligent, as handsome as his Daddy (who is the love of my life) and is driving us nuts. As I write this he has been doing homework for almost 4 hours. Last night was an epic 6 1/2, the same amount of time a school day lasts. It's not that he's not capable of doing the work, he manages to do it in school. I have tried everything, and I'm at my wits end. We've done the reward system, which he only managed to turn around on us by flat out refusing to do anything unless he's guaranteed getting his game system which was the reward. We've tried punishment, not allowing any TV time before homework, made sure there are no distractions, sat beside him for hours to help him, explained that if he gets his work done there will be free time to do what he wants. NOTHING works. Yet somehow he manages to do well in school. Though his teachers always talk about his focusing issues, he is performing at grade level, in a mainstream class, is two reading levels above where is expected, gets high scores on all tests, is very good at math, and can recite lessons he's been taught. Every time I walk into the school for whatever reason all I hear is "Hi Nicky!". Teachers who do not even have him in their class know who he is. Children in older grades know who he is and last year there were a group of 6th grade girls he called his "girlfriends". They were quite charmed by him. Apparently he is quite the character in school. I wish I could be a fly on the wall for a day to see it. Well behaved and well mannered I'm always told. It makes me mad and jealous that he can't show us the same respect and courtesy. We, after all, are the ones that do everything for him.
Home is another story. He's putting us through hell. My 19 year old daughter went to live with my Mother at 14 because she couldn't deal with the constant yelling, arguing and stress. It absolutely breaks my heart, as I love her dearly. She lives close by and I do see her quite often, she comes for sleepovers at our home and she and I are quite close. But I wish I had her home. She loves her brother, but gets as frustrated with him as we do. My neighbors put up with a lot as they listen to quite a bit of yelling. One has a son with ADHD so she really understands. Yet it's embarrassing as hell. This is not me. It's not the household I come from where things were quiet, and yelling just wasn't part of the program.
I have come to believe that part of his issues he is VERY much in control of. He's a devil in the morning as we get ready for school which he refers to as a "trap", but as he walks into the school yard I can literally see the transformation. He's good all day and the moment he gets out it begins to change and by the time I am pulling into my driveway it's "hello Mr. Nasty". He knows full well what he's doing. As he gets my husband and I (I am his FAVORITE target-the weakest link I guess) angrier and angrier you can almost see the twinkle in his eye. He enjoys it, which is nuts. We are not pushovers by any means, and don't let him get away with bad behavior because "he can't control it" as I've been told. BS! He likes to push our buttons, it's obvious. Our immediate family "gets it" but when you try to explain it to anyone not living with this they look at you like you have three heads. They see him as charming, witty, intelligent and oh my God do they LOVE to talk to him. "He speaks like an adult, not like a child!" If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this I'd be loaded. The cashiers in my local market are even charmed by him. None of them live with him though.
I am very involved with school and my husband has put him in Little League and Hockey (a perfect sport to release his aggression, but there Nicky acts like a wimp ) and my husband manages and coaches both teams to be involved. He himself is very athletic and the other kids and parents love his style. Nicky could be good in both, he has potential but he loves to give his Daddy a hard time. My husband has enrolled him in these sports teams to help with Nicky's social issues, which are another problem. He has befriended another boy on his hockey team with the same issues and at first we thought "Great, he's made a friend!". Well, two peas in a pod are not always the best thing when dealing with ADD. They drive my husband nuts during practice and games because they do not stop talking. It never ceases to amaze me how much he can talk, and he was delayed with his speech. He talks from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep. It's how we know he's fallen asleep, for we no longer hear the talking.
The level of stress is through the roof, and we both feel it taking a toll on our health. We can't ever get a break from him, as no one will take him for a sleepover. Everything we do or don't do is based upon whether Nicky will be happy, well behaved and/or entertained. It ALL revolves around him. I believe that my kids come first, but we have a life too. And that my daughter has sat out on vacations and outings because of the nonsense is so unfair. I don't invite our friends over because at any moment something can erupt, and escalate because he just doesn't know when to stop, and I don't need the added embarrassment. Holidays are pretty much the only time, and he usually makes sure to give me an extra hard time then knowing that I am busy and stressed as it is. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or any special day he likes to sabotage. If he knows you are not feeling well, he gets extra pleasure out of making you miserable.
I don't get to be a "Mommy" to him. Most of the time I'm angry, arguing, frustrated, annoyed and yelling. His childhood is flying by and it's so sad that things are this way. Once in a while (and I don't know why) he is a "normal" kid for a day. He's sweet, well behaved and I can breath again. It's cruel in a way because it lets me see how things could be. How I wish with all my heart they would be. It's a window to another life possibility, and I try to explain that to him. I try to point out that when he is like that there is no fighting or yelling, and there wouldn't be if he would act like that most of the time. But I think he gets bored with that. He likes the chaos.
We don't want to medicate him. I just don't feel these drugs have been around long enough, and who knows what effects will come to light in 10-20 years. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies just love to dispense a shot or a pill for everything nowadays. His pediatrician agreed that she is no fan of these medications either, and many others I've spoken to feel the same.
What do we do? I feel lost. Reading the other posts here have made me feel slightly better as I know we are not alone. We love our son dearly, and would do anything for him. We both believe he can be very successful someday, he has so much potential. But I also see a lot of trouble if he can't get his instigating and aggressive ways under control. His condition is a blessing in some ways (the intelligence) and a maddening situation in others. All I know is as I drive away from school after dropping him off I can feel the physical change in me. My chest loosens up, I can breathe, my head stops pounding, the stress fades and I can talk without yelling. And the reverse happens at pick-up time, I feel it all increasing because I know what will transpire. And I know homework hell is looming. It's a vicious cycle, and I go to sleep every night praying (sometimes crying) that my son will begin to ease up on some of this.
As more and more children seem to have this (there are about 6 boys in his class and I don't know how his teacher manages) the medical community and the schools need to step up their game. It takes a village to raise a child right? Something somewhere is causing this upswing and I do believe there is a remedy other than sedating them. I try to keep the faith that those questions will be answered, and a "cure" of some sort will be available someday. Til then the gray hairs keep coming faster and faster and my beauty supply store keeps making more money! LOL.