Women's Health: Postpartum Community
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883151 tn?1245518109

Autism or ADHD???? Or normal????

My son has had a behavior problem since I can remember. He is now four and a lot of what he does I'm pretty sure is just a four year olds behavior. The doctor had at one point thought that he had a form of autism because of his behaviors. Then he started thinking ADHD. Now the doctor is going back and forth. He can't seem to determine if this is ADHD or autism.
My son used to throw big fits where he would throw himself on the floor and bang his head on the floor if he didn't get what he wanted but the problem was that he wouldn't tell me what he wanted. He seemed to expect me to know without him having to say.
I couldn't take him anywhere with me and still can't because when we get around people he is a completely different kid. He throws fits and screams and hits everyone that walks by or he just runs around laughing and screaming and he's always calling people names for no reason. Certain names are horrible that I never even use. I don't know where he got it. His favorite is idiot or loser. He just walks up to people and says, "hey loser" and runs away. He has problems at daycare. He has been kicked out of two or three daycares because he is just so mean to all the other kids and even the adults. He hits and calls names. He tackles people as if he were playing football and had to stop the other team from scoring. No reason at all just tackles people and started beating the **** out of them. I admit he's nto like this with all kids. Only kids at daycare or kids that appear weaker than him.
He does not pay attention. He can when he wants to but sometimes refuses to pay attention. When it comes to watching dora or diego shows or playing dora and diego games on the computer it's impossible to get his attention, he's so focused on it. So I know it's not an attention problem. but when it comes down to his studdies, I cannot get him to focus at all. I homeschooled him through preeschool because of other family issues but when we sat down to do school work he would only pay attention so long then start messing around.
He is a very smart boy. He knows most of the alphabet, can count to 13, can spell his name along with a few other words, can read certain words, knows how to put together puzzles, can point out letters and numbers, and actually have been told by many people that his vocabulary is advanced. He sounds like an adult when he talks but at the same time, he has a speach problem and can't pronounce certain letters. He can do all this stuff on his own but when asked to do it, he turns away like he's shy and if he's repeatedly asked, he starts throwing a fit. At the doctors office when asked to point out animals and make the sound the animal makes he wouldn't do it. He knows all the animals and what they say, partly because of Diego, but when asked by the doctor to do this he started throwing a fit. tore the paper from the doctor and ripped it up, hit the doctor, called him names then threw himself on the floor and threw a fit. This happens all the time when he's asked to do something which we know he can in fact do.
He is very attatched to people. He is always wanting attention from everyone and always telling everyone he loves them which is not like an autistic child. But at the same time sometimes for no reason at all he hates attention. He yells at people not to look at him, hides his face and grawls at people who look at him when we go to the store or out to eat.
He's constanly jumping around. He's so wild. He just jumps around, screaming and yelling for no reason at all. He refuses to play with his toys, only tears them up and throws them around, but he always acts like he's bored and is always jumping around and making noise. The only time he's happy is when he can play outside all day everyday and just run around. todya it's raining. has been here for going on three weeks straight. Every day. It's been hell. I never did take him to get his evaluation done and decided to let him start school next year and if the teacher sees a problem we can handle it then but I just dont' know what to do. It's killing me not knkowing what it is. I took him to a couple of my counciling appointments with me and the councilor says the same thing as the doctor. He might have autism or ADHD but they can't seem to figure out which it is. His dad says it's just the way he is. He doesn't know how to behave and I'm not hard enough on him. I really think there's something there though but what?
6 Responses
Avatar universal
I have a hunch (and only a hunch here) that it is not autism or ADHD...I would lean towards behavioral issues, especially since his behaviors are not consistent all the time and in every single situation. You can also look to see if he ever gives eye contact at all- the autistic children I have worked with have had an inability to ever make eye contact, they don't understand the consequences of their actions and they do repetitive behaviors over and over again (such as tapping, twitching, etc.) A few things that could help until you get a specific determination by a qualified doc:

1. Be consistent. Make sure that you have rules that are simple, basic and age appropriate and always follow through with the consequences.
2. Make sure the consequence is reasonable and that the consequence directly follows the behavior.
3. Make him be able to earn rewards and constantly encourage good behavior. Focus on the good, rather than the bad. The worse they get, the harder it is to do this but that becomes a vicious cycle of attention for all the wrong reasons.
4. Choose your battles and when you see inappropriate behavior, a quick "that word is not appropriate in our house"  and a removal from the situation works well (when done consistently). A kid this age shouldn't also be constantly reasoned with. You can talk to them later when they calm down but if it is worth disciplining over, a time out now (based on your previous consequences) rather than a long discussion at the time or bribes works.

I honestly think he is acting out because it is a way to get your attention. It'll get worse too if you are having another one because he is sensing less attention will be going his way. And he may be frustrated too about something entirely different...a change in the household, a lack of rules (they need rules to feel safe and secure), a lack of a good sleep pattern, the list goes on.

It's great your aware of it and are trying to solve it!! Good luck!
891731 tn?1241447147
I would agree.  I have experience with children of all kinds and I have seen kids like this.  It does seem behavioral.  On his better days, is he getting more one on one time with you?  He may just be a child who needs ALOT of attention, love, and reassurance. (My son is also high maitenence in this area)   Also, make sure you aren't discussing his problems in front of him. He is old enough to understand and will act how you expect him to act.  The biggest thing is follow through!  If you say you're going to do something, do it!  i.e. time out, taking a toy away, etc.  Find his currency.  When you find what that is, you will be able to take that away and it will affect him.  My son gets his feelings hurt easily, so we have to sit him in time out.  It works for him, but not every child.  Spanking does not work on him.  At the store, stick him in a cart!  It may mean him throwing a fit, but ignore it (trust me I know how hard that is!!!!!!!!!!)  It may mean you leaving the store a few times and going home and not allowing him to watch tv or play his computer.  His behavior is somehow being rewarded.  It could just be attention from you - positive or negative.  If you ignore his fits, they will stop.  It will just take ALOT of patience and time!  This is why parenting is so hard!!  It's all trial and error and finding what works with each child because each one is so different!!!!  Good luck and keep us posted!!  We are here for you!!!!
690039 tn?1277476022
I think you have a couple of things going on here, but an autism spectrum disorder does not seem to be a likely culprit at all.  The extreme attention on things he is really into combined with inattention in other things is classic ADD, and the hyperactivity around others lends to the H being thrown in there----often with ADHD, a child can be "overwhelmed" by too much stimulation (outside the home, strange people and noises, all adds up to "i can't think, i can't tune it out, argh!" and often the manifestation is wildness).  My son had this problem a lot.

The behavioral side of it---the extreme anti-social behavior---is only exacerbated by the sensory overload.  

Your son does seem to exhibit serious anti-social behavior, but a lot of that at this point can probably be attributed to the fact that it's gone on relatively unpunished---not that you are in the wrong, but just that the effective means of redirecting those behaviors and nipping them in the bud and controlling them has not been exercised----heck, i let my son's go on for ages before i even recognized them for what they were.  And don't worry, it ALWYAS takes insight from others to recognize it.  

He's doing it for several reasons... 1. Emotionally, some kids are just more prone to this type of behavior and it is something the parents alone can change.  You can't blame him, it's not his fault.  Neither is it your fault that he has this tendency.  It's just the way some kids are wired. 2. Because it has worked for him, he has done it more and gotten very good at it, and very used to doing it--it is no longer a tendency, or even a habit... rather, it's a lifestyle he is now accustomed to. 3. When he acts like this, he knows the reactions he's going to get and is ok with them---he gets the attention he wants, and he is controlling the show.  And any new reactions are interesting to him.  He is in charge.  He likes it.  He wants to stay that way.  

Do not misunderstand, though---this is the "parent" side of what's going on.  He has no clue that this is why he's doing this stuff.  This is just how he has learned to relate to the world.  He doesn't know any different, or rather, he doesn't believe there is any different.  And at this age, it's going to be REALLY hard to convince him otherwise.  But in order for it to happen, you have to start convincing him now.  

For two years, with my son, I felt like NOTHING worked... but that's also just a part of parenting.  It is never going to be perfect.  It's never going to be easy.  No matter what kind of kid you have.  Getting beat over the head with that realization is finally what helped me stop stressing quite so much and enabled me to take the steps I needed to take in order to begin to make things better.  I know they'll never be perfect, but they'll be so much better.  And they can be for you and your son too.  

There is pretty much nothing medically that can be done about the ADHD right now (which exacerbates the behavior problems----i PROMISE you this is the case), because of his age.  He cannot take any meds for it, he cannot even get a real diagnosis for it.  It's agaist AMA guidelines for a doc to diagnose so young.  What you can do however is research things that can help minimize it and mitigate it's effect on him.  Some find that diet is the key (either gluten-free, or another common one is certain dyes to cut out).  It can be a lot to handle to try to implement some of these things---I'm a single mom, and there were some things I just couldn't devote the time and energy to!  But there is a lot you can do, it's just a matter of trial and error, and not giving up.  Other things that can help are identifying triggers and learning how to cope and help him cope with them.  For example, if being over at someone else's house brings out his worst, try bringing them over to yours and see if that helps.  

As far as the anti-social behavior, some of it will be taken care of by the ADHD management.  But for the parts that aren't, there's a lot of trial and error there too, but "discipline" is going to be key as well.  I don't mean rule him with an iron fist.  It's more about taking back control, but in a way that has him unable to even fight for it.  Taking it before he even knows it's up for grabs.    

There's a book you need to read, it can help guide you through the process (and pretty fast too!).  It's called Have A New Kid By Friday.  It's surprisingly easy and you may find it's all you need to turn the tables and have a fresh start---i know your goal is to bring out the wonderful boy you know your son is, and to help him be all he can be.  Unfortunately, our kids are often their own worst enemy.  But fortunately for them, that's why they have parents.  :-)

I know I haven't really delved deeply into anything specific with you, but I didn't want to push or overwhelm or be way off base either because i'm assuming too much.  There's just so much to delve into, this would turn into a book, lol!! But, is what I'm saying making sense to you?  I hope it is.  
883151 tn?1245518109
Well I thank you for your input. I don't know what to say. I feel so lost and so many different people think it's so many different things. I do know that I need to be more strict with him. The doctor first put out the suggestion that there may be a problem before he was even one and would bang his head on the floor when I didn't know what he wanted or needed and he wouldn't tell me. Because of this possible disorder it's been difficult to know how to approch him with the right kind of discipline that won't cause matters to worsen or cause him to develop some kind of complex or something. Not only this but I met my husband when Aries was just over two years old. Aries is not his and he refuses to acknowledge the fact that there might be something there and thinks I just don't discipline him enough. I really feel that he is too hard on Aries though and this has caused for more problems because I have sort of become extra leanient to make up for how hard my husband is on him. Now it's just way out of wack and since the death of his baby brother it's just gotten worse. He is supposed to start kindergarden next August and I'm so scared that he will end up gettin gkicked out of school because no one wants to deal with him. I am trying to be more strict but it breaks my heart when he crys as if someone really, truely hurt him. He is so fragile. His feelings get hurt when someone looks at him wrong. I gues what I really need to know now is....should I forget about all that? Should I forget about the possible disorder and all the other stuff that has cause me to take it a little easy on him and just be more strict? I mean after all, even if he does have a problem, he will still need to know what his boundaries are and know that certain behaviors will not be tolerated. But I'm concerned, is there a chance that, if I get stricter and he does have a problem and doesn't really know what he's doing, will that cause other problems for him? Such as emotional problems or a complex of some sort? My doctor said there's really nothing can be done right now because he's too young for meds and usually kids aren't even diagnosed until they're like seven or something like that. I don't even want him on meds. A friend from work once told me that red dyes can cause problems to worsen so we cut them out and it did seem to work somewhat but did not get rid of the problem by far.
171768 tn?1324233699
I agree that it doesn't sound like autism or adhd. Of course, I cannot diagnose your child, but I like how the previous poster put it- that this is the way he has learned to function. I don't know how or why- it could be a lack of discipline, it could be something internal like sensory issues, antisocial behaviors, etc... Regardless of the cause, there is no easy magic fix at this point. I do not understand why you have not gone through with the evaluation from the school district. If there is something wrong, you are missing out on very precious opportunities for early intervention that can make a world of difference. If he has been kicked out of 3 daycares for overly aggressive behavior, he does not stand a chance in kindergarten. That is not typical preschooler behavior.

my suspicion is that it is not adhd or autism. There is some sort of underlying problem which has caused many of his unacceptable behaviors, and it is possible that these behaviors were not handled correctly. It's not that you aren't tough enough on him- it's that you don't know what's going on so you don't know what the best intervention would be. Please do him, yourself, and his future teacher and classmates a favor and contact the school district for an evaluation. This has gotten beyond anything you can change without professional help. Good luck.
690039 tn?1277476022
I can tell you this---if it was autism, he would've been banging his head for no reason, and it would likely not have been "tantrum" style as you report.  He was communicating.  A one year old that knows what he wants and can't articulate it (or is so frustrated that he is unable to articulate it) is going to have a meltdown.  He realized the banging of his head got him serious attention, and it felt good---it was a nice "soother" for his frustration.  He did it enough and it became his way of life.

Yes, you do need to give him more discipline and guidance, but you do not need to be "hard" on him or mean.  You have to stick to your expectations, but you help him live up to them, you help him succeed.  Until now, you have lowered your expectations for him.  But the problem with that is that now, his behavior has been both reinforced and compounded.  This creates two extra problems for you---1. it's harder to cut away the "c r a p" and separate the symptoms from the actual problem so that you can solve it and 2. it's roots have grown deeper and you have a longer road to success

But take heart ;-)  it will make victory and success that much more sweet because you've come further to get it.
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