I’m writing this post today in the hope of finding out some information.
My son is ten years old and takes Ritalin twice a day. Doctors describe him as having severe ADHD. The Ritalin helps massively. He is much less impulsive and less active.
However, his grades have become worse, not better, and he has these terrible dark moods. The length of time the Ritalin works varies from day-to-day, even though he takes the same quantity at all times.
Naturally, we have returned to the doctors (we’ve been to several) and in the last few weeks a new EEG has led to the discovery of two epileptic episodes within the brain during a twenty-minute period. The doctor asked if there’s a history of epilepsy in the family, but there is not. After some discussion Asperger’s syndrome was also proposed as a possible diagnosis. The neurologist explained to us, that sometimes ADHD hides the initial Asperger’s diagnosis.
Our new pediatrician describes my son as ‘being in his own world’ and having extreme mood swings. He has also hinted at some kind of depression or perhaps even manic depression. He wants our son to be re-diagnosed which I’m 100% in favour of, but so far his efforts have resulted in no appointments being made.
We have decided under no circumstances to return to his previous psychiatrist, because she is incompetent.
In the meantime, I feel the need to ‘do something’ to help my son.
One of the issues that concerns me the most at the moment is his dark moods. He can be cheery one minute, then something happens and he just changes. He becomes really depressed or extremely aggressive and this can happen pretty much in an instant. I’ve worked out that there’s always a trigger. Either he’s disappointed by something, or he can’t do something he wants and then he just flips.
I have tried various methods to calm him down or cheer him up. But he cannot be distracted, he will not talk to me, jokes and laughter make him more annoyed, if I give him quiet time, say in his room, he destroys his own things. He will not play, or read. He would watch TV in this mood, or play computer games, but if I allow him to do this his aggressiveness becomes much worse. Much, much worse.
Yesterday, we had a typical episode. He planned to play with a friend, but the friend let him down. He became more and more distressed. I made excuses for the friend and suggested him playing with a different friend. He refused. I encouraged him to draw, to read, to go outside, to play with his sisters. His sisters tried to talk to him or play with him but he ran away and hid. He stormed around the house, took things from my room, and yelled at me. I had to stop him hitting his head repeatedly on a metal bar. At certain points he cried a little but then he held it in. He lashed out at various objects in the house.
At some point I picked him up and carried him out of the house and sat on the swing with him, rocking him backwards and forwards while stroking his hair. Neither of us spoke, he just lay there in a fetal position, in my arms, not speaking, not crying. Nothing. After twenty minutes he started kicking the frame of the swing and then I started to talk to him.
He was much calmer. But behaved erratically until bed time, invading personal space, showing extreme levels of affection, shouting ‘I love you’ to all members of the family, talking incessantly, throwing himself against things (floor/wall), making noises etc.
Yesterday, I could lift him outside and sit on the swing with him. But only just. I am not much bigger or much stronger than him and it scares me. I need to find another way of being able to deal with this behaviour that will also work.
I know that my son adores me and would not hurt me purposefully (or his sisters) but I no longer trust him when he’s in a rage. He has already threatened his sisters with a kitchen knife and a hammer.
I am afraid.
For him and for us.
Has anyone out there been through this too? Do you have any suggestions?
I have tried reading up on various disorders, but I feel lost.
Do some of these ‘symptoms’ match up with your child’s disorder?
- Mood swings
- Dark moods
- Talking out of context in the conversation
- Noises (whistling/sound effects all day)
- Aggressive outbursts often towards self but also towards others and to objects
- Poor grades but average or better than average intelligence while on Ritalin
- Extreme affection
- Lack of awareness of the personal space of others
- Fantasizing (inventing a situation and pretending its true)
- Extreme helpfulness
- Enjoys destructive play
- Difficulty sleeping
- Cries easily
- Can also be very happy and laugh a lot
- Stuttering (quite new, seems to be when he’s calm)
- Once a mood is over, it’s like the whole incident never occurred
- Seeming lack of conscience
A little more specific
- Emptying out products (like mouthwash, shampoo, perfume)
- De-hanging doors (not angry, more impulse)
- Collecting rubbish (ie empty cartons, toilet roll tubes)
- Obsession with tampons (thrown out of window many times, in pockets, in schoolbag)
I tried to list things that are still highly prevalent despite the Ritalin.
And I also want to stress that these types of behaviour are not always present. He has days where he is perfectly behaved too, but I do have the feeling that he does not have control over these backward and forward swings.
I would greatly appreciate any comments from parents who may have or have had similar experiences.