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.


Online Parent Support

Bullying Survival Tips

"Our very immature 16 year old with ASD and anxiety is starting to retaliate to years of bullying and abuse at school. The other day he responded to a disgusting comment by one student by punching and kicking 5 students. He has also stood up to teachers refusing to co-operate. He does not believe he has done anything wrong and shows no remorse. What do we do?"

Every day thousands of adolescents wake up afraid to go to school. Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students, and it has everyone worried, not just the kids on its receiving end. Yet because moms & dads, teachers, and other adults don't always see it, they may not understand how extreme bullying can get.

Bullying is when a person is picked on over and over again by an individual or group with more power, either in terms of physical strength or social standing.

Two of the main reasons youngsters are bullied are because of appearance and social status. Trouble makers pick on the youngsters they think don't fit in, maybe because of how they look, how they act (for example, kids who are shy and withdrawn), their race or religion, or because the trouble makers think their target may be gay or lesbian.

Some trouble makers attack their targets physically, which can mean anything from shoving or tripping to punching or hitting, or even sexual assault. Others use psychological control or verbal insults to put themselves in charge. For example, youngsters in popular groups or cliques often bully youngsters they categorize as different by excluding them or gossiping about them (psychological bullying). They may also taunt or tease their targets (verbal bullying).

Verbal bullying can also involve sending cruel instant or email messages or even posting insults about a person on a website — practices that are known as cyber-bullying.

How Does Bullying Make Youngsters Feel?

One of the most painful aspects of bullying is that it is relentless. Most youngsters can take one episode of teasing or name calling or being shunned at the mall. However, when it goes on and on, bullying can put a person in a state of constant fear.

Boys and girls who are bullied may find their schoolwork and health suffering. Amber began having stomach pains and diarrhea and was diagnosed with a digestive condition called irritable bowel syndrome as a result of the stress that came from being bullied throughout ninth grade. Mafooz spent his afternoons hungry and unable to concentrate in class because he was too afraid to go to the school cafeteria at lunchtime.

Studies show that youngsters who are abused by their peers are at risk for mental health problems, such as low self-esteem, stress, depression, or anxiety. They may also think about suicide more.

Trouble makers are at risk for problems, too. Bullying is violence, and it often leads to more violent behavior as the bully grows up. It's estimated that 1 out of 4 elementary-school trouble makers will have a criminal record by the time they are 30. Some teen trouble makers end up being rejected by their peers and lose friendships as they grow older. Trouble makers may also fail in school and not have the career or relationship success that other youngsters enjoy.

Who bullies?

Both boys and girls can be trouble makers. Trouble makers may be outgoing and aggressive. Or a bully can appear reserved on the surface, but may try to manipulate youngsters in subtle, deceptive ways, like anonymously starting a damaging rumor just to see what happens.

Many trouble makers share some common characteristics. They like to dominate others and are generally focused on themselves. They often have poor social skills and poor social judgment. Sometimes they have no feelings of empathy or caring toward other youngsters.

Although most trouble makers think they're hot stuff and have the right to push youngsters around, others are actually insecure. They put other youngsters down to make themselves feel more interesting or powerful. And some trouble makers act the way they do because they've been hurt by trouble makers in the past — maybe even a bullying figure in their own family, like a parent or other adult.

Some trouble makers actually have personality disorders that don't allow them to understand normal social emotions like guilt, empathy, compassion, or remorse. These youngsters need help from a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or psychologist.

What Can You Do?

For younger kids, the best way to solve a bullying problem is to tell a trusted adult. For adolescents, though, the tell-an-adult approach depends on the bullying situation.

One situation in which it is vital to report bullying is if it threatens to lead to physical danger and harm. Numerous high-school students have died when stalking, threats, and attacks went unreported and the silence gave the bully license to become more and more violent.

Sometimes the victim of repeated bullying cannot control the need for revenge and the situation becomes dangerous for everyone.

Adults in positions of authority — moms & dads, teachers, or coaches — can often find ways to resolve dangerous bullying problems without the bully ever learning how they found out about it.

If you're in a bullying situation that you think may escalate into physical violence, try to avoid being alone (and if you have a friend in this situation, spend as much time as you can together). Try to remain part of a group by walking home at the same time as other youngsters or by sticking close to friends or classmates during the times that the bullying takes place.

Bullying Survival Tips

Here are some things you can do to combat psychological and verbal bullying. They're also good tips to share with a friend as a way to show your support:

• Don't get physical. However you choose to deal with a bully, don't use physical force (like kicking, hitting, or pushing). Not only are you showing your anger, you can never be sure what the bully will do in response. You are more likely to be hurt and get in to trouble if you use violence against a bully. You can stand up for yourself in other ways, such as gaining control of the situation by walking away or by being assertive in your actions. Some adults believe that bullying is a part of growing up (even that it is character building) and that hitting back is the only way to tackle the problem. But that's not the case. Aggressive responses tend to lead to more violence and more bullying for the victims.

• Find your (true) friends. If you've been bullied with rumors or gossip, all of the above tips (especially ignoring and not reacting) can apply. But take it one step further to help ease feelings of hurt and isolation. Find one or two true friends and confide how the gossip has hurt your feelings. Set the record straight by telling your friends quietly and confidently what's true and not true about you. Hearing a friend say, "I know the rumor's not true. I didn't pay attention to it," can help you realize that most of the time youngsters see gossip for what it is — petty, rude, and immature.

• Hold the anger. Who doesn't want to get really upset with a bully? But that's exactly the response he or she is trying to get. Trouble makers want to know they have control over your emotions. If you're in a situation where you have to deal with a bully and you can't walk away with poise, use humor — it can throw the bully off guard. Work out your anger in another way, such as through exercise or writing it down (make sure you tear up any letters or notes you write in anger).

• Ignore the bully and walk away. It's definitely not a coward's response — sometimes it can be harder than losing your temper. Trouble makers thrive on the reaction they get, and if you walk away, or ignore hurtful emails or instant messages, you're telling the bully that you just don't care. Sooner or later the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother you. Walk tall and hold your head high. Using this type of body language sends a message that you're not vulnerable.

• Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior. Practice feeling good about yourself (even if you have to fake it at first).

• Take charge of your life. You can't control other youngster's actions, but you can stay true to yourself. Think about ways to feel your best — and your strongest — so that other kids may give up the teasing. Exercise is one way to feel strong and powerful. (It's a great mood lifter, too!) Learn a martial art or take a class like yoga. Another way to gain confidence is to hone your skills in something like chess, art, music, computers, or writing. Joining a class, club, or gym is a great way to make new friends and feel great about yourself. The confidence you gain will help you ignore the mean kids.

• Talk about it. It may help to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend — anyone who can give you the support you need. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when you're being bullied.

What If You're the Bully?

All of us have to deal with a lot of difficult situations and emotions. For some youngsters, when they're feeling stressed, angry, or frustrated, picking on someone else can be a quick escape — it takes the attention away from them and their problems. Some trouble makers learn from firsthand experience. Perhaps name-calling, putdowns, or physical force are the norms in their families. Whatever the reason, though, it's no excuse for being the bully.

If you find it hard to resist the temptation to bully, you might want to talk with someone you look up to. Try to think about how others feel when you tease or hurt them. If you have trouble figuring this out (many youngsters who bully do), you might ask someone else to help you think of the other person's side.

Bullying behavior backfires and makes everyone feel miserable — even the trouble makers. Youngsters might feel intimidated by trouble makers, but they don't respect them. If you would rather that youngsters see your strength and character — even look up to you as a leader — find a way to use your power for something positive rather than to put others down.

Do you really want youngsters to think of you as unkind, abusive, and mean? It's never too late to change, although changing a pattern of bullying might seem difficult at first. Ask an adult you respect for some mentoring or coaching on how you could change.

Steps to Stop Bullying in Schools

If the environment at your school supports bullying, working to change it can help. For example, there may be areas where trouble makers harass youngsters, such as in stairwells or courtyards that are unobserved by staff. Because a lot of bullying takes part in the presence of peers (the bully wants to be recognized and feel powerful, after all), enlisting the help of friends or a group is a good way to change the culture and stand up to trouble makers.

You can try to talk to the bully. If you don't feel comfortable in a face-to-face discussion, leave a note in the bully's locker. Try to point out that his or her behavior is serious and harmful. This can work well in group situations, such as if you notice that a member of your group has started to pick on or shun another member.

Most youngsters hesitate to speak out because it can be hard. It takes confidence to stand up to a bully — especially if he or she is one of the established group leaders. But chances are the other students witnessing the bullying behavior feel as uncomfortable as you do. They may just not be speaking up. Perhaps they feel that they're not popular enough to take a stand or worry that they're vulnerable and the bully will turn on them. Staying quiet (even though they don't like the bully's behavior) is a way to distance themselves from the person who is the target.

When a group of youngsters keeps quiet like this, the bully's reach is extending beyond just one person. He or she is managing to intimidate lots of youngsters. But when one person speaks out against a bully, the reverse happens. It gives others license to add their support and take a stand, too.

Another way to combat bullying is to join your school's anti-violence program or, if your school doesn't have one, to start one of your own.

Online Parent Support

18-year-old scared before signing record deal...


It was a pleasure speaking with you this afternoon. My name is F___. I am a record producer/recording engineer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. I have been in the music business since I was a 19-year-old sophomore at U.C. Berkeley in 1978. I am presently 49, so I have been part of the music scene for a very long time. Several months ago, I purchased the MOOCT program because my 18-year-old daughter, A___, is in crisis (for lack of a better term).

A___ was born August 17, 1990. She has always lived with her mother, D___, in Texas. I was never married to A___’s mother. Musically speaking, A___ is far ahead of where my musical abilities were at age 18. She is a gifted singer and I have trained her well. At the age of 15, A___ stated that it was her ambition to be a pop star and asked me to work with her. She had excelled at every level, winning many scholastic vocal competitions and singing in churches. I agreed to work with her. The process started in June 2006.

Under my direction A___’s music career thrived. By January of this year she was established internationally and had proved that if she had a record deal she could generate substantial revenues. Malia Obama was one of A___’s fans and we had discussions with the Obama people about A___ performing for the Obama girls. In January, everything went haywire. I was negotiating a record deal for A___ with Universal Music Group. I thought everything was going well but then neither A___ or her mother would talk to me for almost 3 weeks. D___ finally contacted me on February 9 and informed me that she had enrolled A___ in a 9 month pharmacy technician training program at some cheesy Texas technical school. She said the reason she did it was so A___ would have something to fall back on if her music career was a bust. That reasoning made no sense because A___ and I had made an agreement long ago that in the unlikely event her music career was short lived she would go to a four year collage and I would pay for it. Her mother has always been in a state of financial hardship and constantly borrows money from anyone who will let her have it; me included. When I asked D___ why she had enrolled A___ in the tech school without discussing it with me first, she had two responses: “I don’t know” and “I told A___ many times that she needed to call you.” They didn’t discuss it with me because they knew I would have stopped them in their tracks.

D___ took substantial grief from people associated with A___’s career for doing something so stupid. A___ knew her mom was catching major hell so when I finally got to speak with A___ she said she didn’t want to be a pop star anymore even though she knew she had the talent to be successful. She went on to say she just wanted to lead a quiet life and she thought she could get by on a $10/hour pharmacy tech salary. This did not sound like my daughter in any way, shape or form. She sounded very confused. My position was she had no business in the tech school and I wanted her out of there immediately. She refused to quit. As a result, she lost her record deal with Universal, production team, songs written for her, $500/month allowance I gave her and the new sports car she wanted me to buy her. Approximately 2 weeks after this bombshell was dropped on me A___ told me she never wanted to work with me again. I was confused by this because I was under the impression she was done with music. She also stated that I was “too possessive.”

Several days after that conversation, A___ announced on the internet that she was done with pop music and planned to pursue a career as a Contemporary Christian Music recording artist. She also announced that she had a new manager, her mother, D___. D___’s management experience is limited to watching me work with A___. D___ is not qualified to manage any artist and readily admits it but she’s doing it anyway. The executives at the Christian record companies laughed their asses off when they heard A___ wants to be a Christian recording artist. After what has transpired they want no part of A___ or D___. Furthermore, the quality of A___’s recordings have tanked since I stopped working with her. A Christian record label executive described A___’s recent work to me as “unlistenable.” I agree with his assessment.

I have tried numerous times to talk with A___; she refuses to speak with me. She did send me a text message a few weeks ago in which she stated that she was really happy. It was a dig at me. My daughter is headed down a path that will not serve her well in the future. I feel like I’ve lost my daughter and that there is nothing I can do for her. Your statement in the program that kids won’t change until they’re ready reinforced my feeling that I should just let her go. It breaks my heart to see my precious daughter abandon her lifelong dreams to work in a low paying job and pursue a record deal in Christian music that can never materialize (for business reasons which are irrelevant to this correspondence). I have tried to help A___ to become an independent young lady who can take care of herself someday and be financially self sufficient. She was on her way until something happened down in Texas that derailed her. It is only natural that an 18-year-old would be scared before signing a major record deal with a company like Universal. I think that is where this mess started and then A___’s mother played on her fears. I could be wrong but that’s what I believe happened.

Any insights that you can provide would greatly be appreciated. Thank you.



Hi F.,

Based on what you've said, a few comments seemed to jump out at me:

"They didn’t discuss it with me because they knew I would have stopped them in their tracks."

"She also stated that I was “too possessive.”

"It breaks my heart to see my precious daughter abandon her lifelong dreams to work in a low paying job and pursue a record deal in Christian music that can never materialize."

I'm guessing that you (a) have been a bit too controlling in the past and (b) viewed your daughter as an extension of yourself (i.e, you had YOUR goals for her that are clearly not in alignment with HER goals for her).

She probably was a bit apprehensive with the idea of becoming a "big star" -- that's true -- but the larger issue may be her wanting to assert her will rather than follow your will.

Hope this makes sense. I feel like I am at least in the ball park on this one.

I would drop her a line and simply say, "I will support you in whatever you want to do with your life. You know what's best for you. I love you for who you are."

Then in future conversations, inquire as to what she is doing without providing your opinion about it -- just listen!

You can do that,


Online Parent Support

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