Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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He has suffered tremendous bullying and has had a number of breakdowns...

Hi J.,

I've responded throughout your email below:

Hi Mark

Firstly congratulations on a brilliant program. We are totally exhausted and confused with what to do with our child. We have been working on the program for a few months and feel that we need some fine tuning!

Our16 year old son is ADHD and ASD. He has suffered tremendous bullying and has had a number of breakdowns.

Please refer to the page on bullying:

He also suffers from high level of anxiety...

Successful short-term therapy can help to alleviate your child’s fears and help your child return to healthy functioning. If you are unsure whether your child’s fear is normal, or whether it is interfering in his life, it may be a good idea to consult with a psychologist to determine whether your child could benefit from treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral treatment is focused on teaching children and parents specific skills for changing their fearful thoughts, anxious, tense physical feelings, and avoidant behaviors. Other types of therapy are more focused on using play therapy techniques, using talk therapy techniques, etc. to produce change. There is much research evidence suggesting that cognitive-behavioral techniques are quite successful with reducing anxiety in children.

Although research has shown that anxiety may be heritable, there are many other ways that fears may be acquired. For example, your child may have a more anxious, inhibited temperament, which may make him more vulnerable to feeling anxious. Further, fears are often acquired through the media, through modeling from others, etc. Fears might also occur after children have experienced some form of trauma. So, although you may feel you are anxious, it is not likely that you simply could “give” an anxiety disorder to your child. There are ways that you may interact with your child, however, that may function to increase his or her anxiety. It is important to examine such factors.

Our fear is that he is playing us like a fiddle. Yes we acknowledge that he has had a rough time with the kids. He is very immature and an easy target. As a result teachers as well as us have been response and protective. Now we have a problem. He is out of control. The anger ladder is the story of his life!!! We have holes in the walls and he just screams us down when ever we ask him to do anything. He shows no remorse or belief that he has done anything wrong. He turns it back onto everyone else and constantly steals from us and lies, We take things away for 3 days then 7 and he just become so determined and stubborn.

I find that when parents continue to experience difficulties after 4 weeks, they have missed a couple important pieces.

Let's trouble shoot...

Below is a summary of all the assignments I gave you in the eBook. If parents do not implement most of these assignments, it is often the "kiss of failure."

For example, the transmission in your car has hundreds of parts, but if just one little tiny part is not working -- the whole transmission does not work. The same is true with this "parent program." Omit just one strategy, and the whole plan runs the risk of failing.

Check List--

Referring to the Online Version of the eBook:

  1. Are you asking your son at least one question each day that cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or a "no" to demonstrate that you are interested in what is going on in his life?
  2. Are you saying to him "I love you" everyday and expecting nothing in return?
  3. Are you eating dinner together at least one evening each week -- either at home or out?
  4. Are you using the Fair Fighting technique as needed?
  5. Do you use "The Art of Saying Yes" whenever your answer is yes?
  6. Do you use "The Art of Saying No" whenever your answer is no?
  7. Do you catch him in the act of doing something right at least once each day?
  8. Do you use the "When You Want Something From Your Kid" approach as needed?
  9. Are you using “The Six-Step Approach” when something unexpected pops-up?
  10. Do you give him at least one chore each day?
  11. Do you find something fun to do with him each week?
  12. When you are undecided about what to say or do in any particular situation, are you asking yourself the following question: "Will this promote the development of self-reliance in my son, or will this inhibit the development of self-reliance?" If it is supportive of self-reliance, say it or do it. If it is not supportive, don't!
  13. Is he EARNING ALL of his stuff and freedom? (see "Self-Reliance Cycle")?
  14. Have you watched ALL the videos in the Online Version of the eBook?
  15. Are you putting on your best poker face when “things are going wrong?”
  16. And perhaps most importantly, are you doing things to take care of your mental and physical health?

If you answered "no" to any of the above, you are missing some important pieces to the puzzle. Most parents DO miss a few pieces initially -- you can't be expected to remember everything! But don't get frustrated and give up. We must be willing to hang in there for the long haul.

I'm talking about refinement here. Refinement is a necessary tool to use in order to truly be successful with these parenting strategies.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: Parents who refine are, on average, 95% - 100% successful at getting the parent-child difficulties reduced in intensity and severity (i.e., the problems are easily managed).

The same can be true in your case. Continue to refine by emailing me as needed over the next few months. Refinement is a process, not a one-time event.

He has no friends... doesn’t want them... doesn’t need them! His sister has gone to university and when we asked if he missed her, his answer was that he now knew everything about computers and that he didn’t need her anymore so therefore he didn’t! It is like he just uses everyone.

Now we are having problems at school. The other day he punched 5 boys because one of them made the comment “Retards don’t belong in this class” He just went ballistic and started punching and kicking any kid who had annoyed him for the past 2 years. He is easy bait as he reacts. The kids either ignore him or make fun of him.. He reacts so the cycle continues. There are only 36 kids in highschool (his school finishes this year) .

As strange as it may sound -- he is setting limits with peers (albeit in an immature way). It's good that he is standing up for himself. He will mature by default by virtue of the passage of time (so you have time on your side). As he grows older, he will likely develop some less destructive ways of dealing with put-downs and ridicule (although some of the ill-treatment of others that he is experiencing now may haunt him to some degree for the rest of his life).

Because he suffers from anxiety the school doesn’t know how to punish him for his behaviour. Their response normally is to suspend him. They don’t want to do this because it will damage his self esteem... something they are trying to develop. But he can’t go around doing this. We have done anger management classes and he just doesn’t seem to get it. He is never in the wrong or he justifies his behaviour.

You would do well to have a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation performed. A Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist may be able to prescribe a short-term mood stabilizer that can provide some assistance as he learns non-medical ways to cope with his low-frustration tolerance.

In the last few weeks he has also being showing negative behaviour in class. Two teachers have got the “I don’t have to do what I don’t want to do” “I am stubborn you know!” “Nothing ever gets done if I do something!” This just highlighted the fact that we have gone down the wrong track with protecting him. He is trying to big note himself in the group of 6 boys? He is so tiny in comparison, although older than all of them.

The school and us are at a loss on how to deal with all of this. He denies standing up to the teachers. He won’t apology because he feels that he has done nothing wrong. Should the school suspend him?

Absolutely. A natural consequence (i.e., suspension) would be in order here.

One of the suggestions was bringing in a police officer to talk to him about aggressive behaviour.

That would be just another traditional parenting strategy that would have very little (or no) positive outcome.

We have no idea! When ever we ask him to do anything he plays the stressed card... his stress is very real and he has developed dreadful OCD and tics as a result. But then on the other hand there has to be consequences for behaviour. At this point I want to just pick up all his electronic stuff and smash it on the ground (Okay not really what the program suggests!!!!!... but it would make me feel better!!!!)

Where do we go to from here? Tony Attwood the ASD authority told me that I need to have therapy for him to deal with his stress. CBT just doesn’t work... he just doesn’t get it. I feel maybe he just manipulating us all!!!!

I'm guessing that you feel sorry for him on multiple levels -- he's got all these mental health problems ...he's getting picked on at school ...yada yada yada.

Bottom line: If he is still acting out to this degree -- then your tough love has not been tough enough. As I see it, the ball is in your court.

Be sure to review the checklist above to see what important pieces you may be missing.


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