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Old 03-16-2007, 07:56 PM   #1
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strssd_mom HB User
Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Does anyone have advice on how to cope or handle life with a bipolar/ADHD child? How do you deal with others not understanding and blaming the child for something he cannot control? How do you deal with the constant behavioral issues without losing it yourself?

I am finding myself beyond stressed and wishing I never had children. My son is almost 8 and got diagnosed with bipolar w/ADHD Feb 2006. Prior to that, he was diagnosed with just ADHD when he was 5. Life with him has been stressful due to the constant mood changes. In the last several months, his behavior has gotten erratic, violent, mean and out right out of control. He has begun beating up his little brother (who is 3), hitting me and just lashing out on everyone.

He cannot keep a friend and often says he hates today and hates <whomever>. He constantly yells, screams, and hits himself. Recently (a month ago) I started him in an after school day care. At first he liked it, now he doesn't, I think it is because the place doesn't understand his condition and thinks he is acting up when he really has no control. He is getting in trouble along with other kids and I think that is triggering his dislike.

He has a psychologist who put him on Adderall and Abilify and now Lamactil. Some days are great, but most days are not. I just need advice on how to cope, or even just a place to vent since my husband and i are both too stressed to talk to each other

thanks

 
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Old 03-16-2007, 08:54 PM   #2
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michael178 HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

First, talk to your son's pdoc about your son's behavior. Mental illnesses explain but do not excuse bad behavior. You have to set the same normal boundaries set for any child, and expect your son to follow all appropriate rules. It is up to you to be a parent to an ill son, just like you are a parent to an well son. Team up with your pdoc and come up with a workable gameplan with his help. Otherwise, you'll have a sick boy ruling your household.

 
Old 03-16-2007, 09:57 PM   #3
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Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Hello Strssd Mom,

Welcome to the board. You will find other moms here who can offer you suggestions and tips on how to deal with your son. There are several moms currently who have kids about the age of your son. 5 boys, BetsyAnn and Tyler'sMom come to mind, but I know I am forgetting at least one other...I think they all have boys around the age of 9 and one 11-year old. Scroll down through the threads for a post entitled "11-year old BP/anyone else out there?" You can see what has been covered thus far and add to it. 5boys just had her tonsils out and is recovering so hasn't been posting this week, but I know she'll be back.

One suggestion I would make to you is to get in touch with NAMI. This is a national organization that has state and local chapters all over the country. It is an advocacy group that provides educational programs, support and is a wonderful resource for referrals, etc. They run a 12-week program called "Family to Family" that would be of particular interest to you and your husband. They have an informative website where you can locate a chapter that would be closest to you, and you can see exactly what the Virginia chapter has to offer.

I would also like to recommend a book that is written by a man who was first a teacher. Then he became a pediatric psychiatrist and he himself is bipolar. It is called Understanding the Mind of Your Bipolar Child by Gregory T. Lombardo, M.D., Ph.D.. I particularly like it because it is organized developmentally. It goes through what should be going on at each age, what to look for, watch out for, what the bipolar child will have difficulty with, etc.

I hope the moms with younger children will see your post and respond soon.
Welcome to the board! I have learned so much from the people on here and I think you will also find it useful.

best,
Tsohl

Last edited by tsohl; 03-18-2007 at 09:55 AM.

 
Old 03-17-2007, 08:51 AM   #4
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Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Hi.
First, take a deep breath...you are NOT alone. Lets see if any of this sounds familiar:
I feel like a failure because I cant get my child to behave.
Other parents blame ME because my child is so out of control.
I cant take her ANYWHERE without a tantrum.
She hits me, hates me, hates herself, hates the air we all breath!
My child WAKES UP mad at me.
All I ever wanted was a child to love and care for, now I have her and she hates me.
My child is so smart yet, at school they tell me she is 'below average' intelligence.
If I hear one more person say the words..."All you need to do is....' I will shoot them between the eyes!

I could go on and on. Over the last 6 years, I have said all of these things more than once! It took 6 years and countless Pdocs before we found a dx that fit. She has bi polar. Ok. Not the best news in the world but, at least we now know the target enemy! And guess what? its NOT bad parenting! For that relief alone I did 100 cartwheels, three chair spins and a happy happy joy joy dance!

As someone who didnt sleep more than a few hours a night for many years, I am well aware of what happens between parents of BP kids. The great supportive wonderful and very often neglected husband and I were so shell shocked we barely talked to each other before she was diagnosed!

The good news? My daughter has been 'stable' for 8 months. We are all caught up on our sleep. And as a family, we now enjoy each others company.
There is hope. Dont give up.

carol

 
Old 03-17-2007, 02:32 PM   #5
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strssd_mom HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Thank you all...
This is helping. I knew I wasn't alone, but I just wanted some words of encouragement. I am hoping this next round of meds is the right fit for my son.
I will continue to read and post so I can keep my sanity. Our youngest is looking more and more like bipolar everyday, but he is still too young to tell.

I wasn't aware of how 'common' bipolar is... when my son got diagnosed everyone I talked to thought it was rare, a misdiagnose and that the doc was wrong. I wonder now if all the kids I know that are diagnosed ADHD or ADD actually have bipolar... interesting to say the least. I still find it amazing how common bipolar is.

thanks again

 
Old 03-18-2007, 04:54 AM   #6
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Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Trisha,

I read your posts on the other thread and my heart breaks for you both. We had to sell our home and move to a new neighborhood when Isabel was 5 because of the number of children who WERN'T allowed to play with her. At the end of preschool, I was called in for a conference. The entire year no one said a WORD to me about her behavior...I assumed everything was just fine. The 25 year old preschool teacher handed me a pamphlet on domestic violence and said...and I quote..."We realize there are issues with Isabels homelife and we fear for your safety. If your husband is abusing you...please get help for her sake". Needless to say, it was all I could do not to smack her. But, it did teach me one very important lesson you may want to consider. People will assume the worst unless they know the truth. As hard as it is to admit there is a mental health issue...there are times when it's appropriate to educate others. There will always be people who can't/won't have compassion and understanding....those people we avoid like the plague. Others will understand and treat our children with patience and compassion and as much as possible, I have tried to surround Isabel with those people.

Isabel in now in a small charter school (12 kids in her class). I volunteer there and have gotten to know many of the parents. While I am still not comfortable letting her go to the other kids houses to play ( I know...over protective ) We invite at least one child a week for sleepovers and playdates. After a while, you get to know which kids are going to be 'friends' and which are going to trigger an episode. It is also teaching her very important inner personal boundaries in a safe and controlled environment. Things we SHOULD have taught her before she was diagnosed but, we were too busy just trying to survive to worry about manners!

Another thing that has worked is Karate. We tried all the team sports, dance, soccer, softball...etc. but, find that she dose better at activities where she can shine as her own person. In Karate, they move so quickly, she doenst have time to stop and 'think'...there is no room for triggers...its...10 jumping jacks 'GO!"...lay down...10 situps..."go'...and on and on...her instructor is in effect controlling which way her mind goes, at least for that hour. she is now an orange belt and very proud of her accomplishments. ( the other benefit is there are ALOT of other kids with 'issues' who take things like Karate and thier parents tend to be more understanding )

We have also joined the local YMCA and have become very close to many of the 'regulars' as well as the staff there. If Isabel wants to take a summer camp...I can hand pick which 'camp' she takes based on what I know of the teacher and other kids enrolled.

Another avenue to explore is 'play therapy' group. The kids there all have unique challenges and there is less pressure to 'fit in'.

My goal is never to make Isabel feel like an outsider but, rather for her to embrace the fact that she isnt a cookie cutter kid and we LIKE that about her. As difficult as her mood swings are, she is also very bright, funny and unique and I tell her daily how lucky I am to have her as my daughter. I want her to enjoy beating to her own drummer and NOT dwell on being 'different' as a bad thing. I hope I havnt made this sound as if I have all the answers...I don't...we spent years in a cocoon trying to hide from the stares, the nastiness and the blame that other people threw at us. Our nightmare was contained within the four walls of our home and we ALL suffered. While I would never condonne 'airing the laundry' for the general public, I can tell you that letting a select few other people in on the truth has made life a lot easier.
I hope you can find something useful in what Ive written and I wish great things for you and your son. No one deserves it more. You have both been through so much.

Carol

 
Old 03-18-2007, 09:49 AM   #7
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tylersmom29 HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Hello and welcome to the board. My son is Adhd and bp also. He is on ablify and adderall. I have seen a great change for the good in his behavior since the start of taking abilify. He has been on adderall since five. Ablifiy since nov.06. I know how stressful it can be. At home and at school. My son still has days where he hates me and the world but for the most part he is doing better. Everyone on this board is very supportive and we are here to listen and ofer advice anytime you need it. Hang in there and know my thoughts are with you. Tylersmom29

 
Old 03-18-2007, 10:31 AM   #8
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strssd_mom HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

This is all just so grateful for me. After reading some of the posts, I have a new found attitude. I realized this morning that I have to take one day at a time, and I will no longer care what the neighbors think, or if they can hear me when I am yelling (usually over him) or make excuses for the decisions I have to make.

We do the best we can, and that is all we can do. At then end of the day, if my son says he loves me, then I know I have succeeded.

I do have a question, what forms of discipline has anyone here taken? My husband has resorted to light spanking, and I tend to yell/scream. Most of the time it is effective, but I am wondering if a quieter somewhat ignoring approach is better? Any suggestions?

Thanks, Trish

 
Old 03-18-2007, 11:18 AM   #9
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tsohl HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Hi Trish,

I just wondered if any of the potential playdate moms or neighbors know about your child's diagnosis or have you chosen to keep it completely private?

Tsohl

 
Old 03-18-2007, 11:35 AM   #10
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Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Hi, Trish Just wanted to welcome you and see that you are getting some great support and advice.

As far as yelling goes...I use to do that as did my husband but not only found it to be ineffective but our daughter was not emotionally equipped to handle it often becoming worse than better. And so we found a strong matter of fact approach works out best....no excuses or explanations, letting her know that is the way it is and that's it. Being a united front works wonders....it took us a long time to develop this but now that we have things are much better for her and for us as partners.

And, as you have already seen, attitude is everything. It is the difference from growing with the BP and climbing all hurdles that come your way or allowing it to get the best parts of your child and the entire family.

I am glad you are here...you will find a ton of support here which will definitely keep your attitude positive and strong.

(((HUGS))) ~ Goody

Last edited by goody2shuz; 03-18-2007 at 11:37 AM.

 
Old 03-18-2007, 05:16 PM   #11
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strssd_mom HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Tshol, I haven't kept it completely private. The one's he plays with most know about his condition. It is the parents of the 'mean' children that I chose not to divulge my information. If they aren't willing to have their children be nicer to all of the kids, they don't deserve my two cents. I have also explained to Tommy that even though child A is mean and nasty, child B is nice and he can play with them just as easily.

Its been a lot better. Tommy decides to come home when the particular mean child(ren) are outside. It works better that way.

thanks.

 
Old 03-18-2007, 05:18 PM   #12
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strssd_mom HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Thanks goody, I will have to take that approach. I know yelling isn't working at all. I asked my son one day why he listens to daddy more than me and he said because daddy's voice scares him. Well, I guess that's par for the course, I can't deepen my voice. I will have to find time in between episodes to sit with the hubby and chat about what form of discipline to try next. Yelling isn't working and I do feel that the BP is taking over our lives as you say instead of growing with the BP child.

Thanks again.

 
Old 03-18-2007, 06:02 PM   #13
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tsohl HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Hi Trish,

NAMI could help you with a lot of the issues you bring up (such as discipline, communication skills, etc.). Please check out their website if you haven't done so already.

Tsohl

 
Old 03-18-2007, 10:18 PM   #14
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BetsyAnn HB User
Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Quote:
Originally Posted by strssd_mom View Post
I do have a question, what forms of discipline has anyone here taken? My husband has resorted to light spanking, and I tend to yell/scream. Most of the time it is effective, but I am wondering if a quieter somewhat ignoring approach is better? Any suggestions?

Thanks, Trish
I have found that gentle discipline works best for my son. I try not to yell or over react. If he is throwing a tantrum, I remove him from the situation for a time-out until he can cool off. If he is trying to get out of doing something, like homework or piano practice, I just remind him that he will be fine and he will be able to do it. I try not to show any reaction to his obvious distress. Before we start, we agree on a point at which he can take a break. I make him get to that point regardless of the show he puts on. If he is fighting with his littler brother or a neighbor kid while playing video games I put the video games in time out. At this point he can not handle long term consequences so I don't pass out punishments that have to be followed up on the next day. Sometimes if he is just freaking out because he is cycling so rapidly, I don't even both with discipline. I will have him lay on the couch and I will rub his back until he calms down. (He likes this, If I were freaked out I would not want anyone to touch me!) When he is calm we discuss what happened and how things could have been handled differently. We can't have that discussion when he is high or low.

 
Old 03-19-2007, 05:54 PM   #15
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Re: Coping with Bipolar/ADHD child

Thanks BetsyAnn, that might be the route I take. Unfortunately I am going out of town until Saturday and the hubby will have to take of the children alone. hopefully it won't be that bad. I will definitely take these advices and use them.

Trish

 
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