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Our son is 3 and a half years old and he shows some signs of ADHD behavior and we have an odd problem.  He is terrific at home and all other situations where he is with us, however, once he gets to school, he is a different person.  He acts out, he has trouble transitioning, playing with his peers, etc.  We have had a clinical psychologist observe his behavior at both school and home and he even said that if he had seen him at home first, he would have thought we were crazy that there was anything wrong.  Any ideas why it is like night and day and if it is not ADHD, what else can it be?  He is extremely advanced in many areas academically, but socially, he is having major problems.  Strangely enough, he is much better with older kids than he is with kids his age.
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I am reliving my life a couple of years ago with your post.  My oldest child started preshool at 2 almost 3 years old and pretty quickly into the year (he went one half day a week), they suggested that we have a clinical therapist observe him.  I was floored as he was pretty well behaved for us and a happy go lucky kid.  So the therapist observed our son and said she felt he had a developmental delay called sensory integration disorder.  What????!!!!  I couldn't believe this.  My son was (still is) very intelligent, funny and happy.  He had met every developmental milestone on time or early (found out later that crawling for a very brief time and going straight to walking ---- and in my kid's case, running right away is actually not good).  Anyway, we had him evaluated and it came back inconclusive.  So I chose to believe that it was due to immaturity that they saw these things at school.  By the next school year, it was undeniable.  We had him re evaluated (twice at two places) and it was clear he had sensory integration disorder.  

I am telling you this because sensory issues can look very much like adhd in terms of behavior.  But it is treated completely differently.  An occupational therapist trained in sensory is who evaluates for it and then occupational therapy is what is done.  This is like play therapy that addresses the nervous system and ways for a child to cope.  I will tell you that my son had significant issues in preschool.  So much that I was terrified for his future.  Now he is in kindergarten and after two years of occupational therapy and lots of sensory activities at home, he is doing beautifully.  We've had no problems in kindergarten.  Addressing that nervous system early has a tremendous impact.  I have lots of things that are easy to do at home if you are interested.  

We, by the way, worked very hard on social skills.  They did not come naturally to my son either.  That is pretty common with sensory (and adhd).  My son is now able to be a good friend and play well with others.  So some kids need lots of guidance and direction with this area.  But if persistent, they will get it.  

One last thing,  I always questioned why my child was so different at home than at school.  The therapist that initially worked with us at his preschool said that this is common because with sensory, it is going to be worse when he is excited or out of his element.  At home, it is a controlled enviroment that he is used to.   If the sensory system gets overwhelmed, the floodgates open making functioning more difficult.  I went to school one day and observed  my son myself.  The look on his face as he tried to make it through the day told me everything I needed to know.  My kid wanted to fit in and he needed help.  I'm so glad we gave it to him.  I'm happy to share any of the things that worked for us.  good luck
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Home is less regimented for children.  I also have to agree with specialmom. My son definitely has a LOT more issues at school than at home.   I also do think sometimes the teacheing staff and how they handle things do make a difference too.  Some people have a hard time dealing with special children or unique children.  I'm having the same issues with my son, acting out at school though doing much better due to being 1:1 at school right now. I can tell his self esteem is up now.  I am actually worried about him returning to the prior classroom.  Every day was a terrible day.
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I suspect what you are seeing is anxiety - probably social anxiety - perhaps co-morbid with sensory issues.  Often children who suffer from mild to moderate anxiety are misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD rather than anxiety.  In extreme cases, the child suffering from anxiety will shut down; in less extreme case, the child appears unable to manage his emotions and actions (this appears as hyperactive, unruly and silly behaviour to others).  Anxiety displays itself when the child is in an uncomfortable situation - in your son's case, school.  Home, being a comfortable situation, is where his "normal" behaviour will be expected.  I might suggest you google the phrase "anxiety behaviors in children" or "social anxiety in children" or similar words/phrases.  I did a quick google and found an intertesting article titled "Anxiety In Children and Adolescents" by Debra Clough Stokan, M.D. - you might find this educational.

By the way, just because a child suffers from anxiety does not mean that you need to run to your family doctor.  All of us, at one time or another, suffer from anxiety - some of us far more often and far more intense.  It appears your son suffers from mild anxiety and with education on your part (and that of the school), your son will learn how to manage his fears/anxieties.  There should be lots of information on the internet and in books re "parental intervention" which should lessen his fears (which is the only way one learns how to cope) and help your son.  By the way, we're talking months and/or years; not weeks.  Of course, if your son was severe in his anxiety (and it appears from your posting this is not the case), then a visit to your family doctor would be prudent.

One more thing - children who suffer from anxiety tend not to mix with children their own age - preferring the older child who will "take them under his wing" to protect and guide them.  It simply is easier and therefore, less stressful.  This is why your son prefers to be in the company of older children.  Hope this helps ....
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Thank you for the comments. They have been very helpful.  The problem we have is this.  We are very structured at home and our son is very loved and we praise him constantly, however, if he does something he knows he is not suppose to, there are consequences, for example, he knows not to throw his toys. If he throws a toy, he does not get the toy for the rest of the day. If we go to the library and he acts out when playing with the train table they have there, then next time we come to the library, no train table and IT WORKS.  He understands and it doesn't happen again.  At school, it is setup for all positive praise and reinforcement and there is no consequences for their actions.  If you were three and extremely intelligent, would you stop acting out if you knew full well nothing bad would come of it?  No.  Our son is very outgoing, very smart and very happy and we just do not want him to start feeling bad or thinking he is not normal because of these behaviors.  I will look up sensory intgration disorder and look at possibly talking with an occupational therapist.  Thank you again and any other advice would be much appreciated!
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my son also is very gifted when it comes to math, and reading.  He just turned 4 and he is already reading.  He can also do math problems such as 3+X= 10.  It is amazing to see.  However he has a really hard time when it comes to people his own age.  He thinks that he should be able to be an adult.  He will not look at me when I talk to him or when he talks to me.  He has a really hard time with transitions, and requires a lot of sleep to be able to handle daily life.  I have been doing a lot of research on line and I think that he might have a mild case of Aspergers syndrome.  
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