Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Starting Over with My Youngest?

It’s like starting over, only it’s the little one.

Today my boys were at a neighbor’s birthday party. Things were going great until my youngest son (age 7) became overwhelmed. The next thing I see is him knocking over a folding chair and screaming that he wanted to go home. I took him to the side of the house, away from the backyard festivities to help him calm down. 

It was like my oldest all over again. Filled with anxiety he explained, “I don’t know what’s wrong!” When I asked if it was too crowded he said, “Yes! Too many kids!” Then he began to clench his fists and growl.

It was 6 years ago that I saw these same reactions to birthday parties in my oldest.

I tried to calm him with my words, but he wasn’t going to go back into the party. So I brought the cake to him and he sat on the side of the house eating his piece of cake alone.

Once the cake was gone he quietly left his corner and with a look of defeat, he slowly walked toward me. I invited him to sit with me, but before I could complete my sentence he was on the run, out the back gate and to our house.

Once I caught up to him I found him pacing outside the front of our house yelling to himself, “STUPID PARTY!!!” and ranting on and on.

As I tried to bring him inside, he tried to break a branch off our tree, then collapsed inside crying saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

This event comes at no surprise. Off and on we’ve seen these moments. Even his teacher wrote up at the end of the year letting us know about his behavior during class which would include, “withdrawing from the class and putting his head down or having episodes of being very energetic and not being able to focus, sometimes he would switch between theses behaviors frequently and quickly.” She also mentioned that loud music, singing or classroom cheers would upset him. 

Now you would think that since we’ve experienced these behaviors with our oldest that we’d be a step ahead of the game, but it’s just not true. If anything, it’s more confusing. Does my youngest son have an inherited illness such as anxiety? Or is this just a result of post traumatic stress disorder after all he’s experienced with his older brother?

As the saying goes... “Only time will tell.”


  1. Oh, wow--I'm so sorry to hear this, Mama Bear. And I completely get your confusion. It does sound like his behavior could be due to any of the conditions you mention, although the bouts of high energy sound more like a mood disorder than anxiety or PTS.

    1. One thing that I have also noticed is that he tends to wake up an hour earlier that the rest of the family, all dressed and ready for his day. But if he sleeps in and I have to wake him, it's a sure sign that he will be in a bad mood throughout the day starting from the moment I wake him.

  2. I told you once I would walk through fire for you... If you'll bring the antibiotic ointment, I'll take the burns.

    I love you

    Papa Bear~

    1. I know you'll always be by my side! Love you too!

  3. It is SO hard to know. Our daughter with the mood disorder is our middle child, and after her symptoms had been "full on" and pretty bad for a while, both my youngest and oldest began exhibiting pretty strange behavior. I truly believe they were repeating things they saw their sister do. It broke my heart as I'm sure it breaks yours. No matter what, you are now VERY wise and can see him through, get him the best help, and monitor his moods down to the last detail. You ate so in my prayers. Cathy

    1. You bring up a good point about repeating behaviors that were seen in older siblings, I know to a degree we have some of that, especially when it comes to anger, it doesn't seem the same as his brother and more of an imitation of what he has seen. But the anxiety seems abnormal. He can't even flush the toilet without covering his ears because of the noise being scary to him, he is definitely hypersensitive to his surroundings.

  4. My son has recently been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. He was diagnosed with Adhd 1.5 yrs ago. A few of his symptons include being withdrawn from others at school, having a hard time focusing and sudden changes in routine set him off. From what I've read sometimes kids with other diagnoses can also have SPD . I had never heard of SPD. I'm certainty not trying to diagnose. I just want to make you and others aware of SPD. Just thought I would pass this info along.

    1. Thanks anonymous, I actually have the book about this disorder, I should crack it open again and see if it fits!

  5. Oh Mama Bear,
    It just doesn't seem fair does it? The good news is that you have experience, and the bad news is this might be something different. But you also have experience in sorting out what is going on. It does seem like you need some more info to sort out the cause of the behavior. And most likely it is a combo of things: some sort of sensory overload and learned responses from observing your eldest.

  6. Hello Mama Bear,
    Hello Mama Bear,
    Along with my ADHD and my Single Sided Deafness, I suffer from hyperacousia (it means that noise hurts my remaining ear : as one is dead since birth. My ENT doc suspects a rare disease, but has no idea which one. Obviously, it looks like a rare disease with psychiatric expression) and sensory issues (like hypersensitivity to taste and hypersensitivity to touch).

    For my ENT doctor, my hyperacousia comes mainly from my SSD. I tend to agree with him : I notice that even when my ADHD is extremely stable (I could say unnoticeable), my hyperacousia remains, although in a lesser degree than when my ADHD is all over the place.

    Crowded places are awful for me. Not only it hurts my remaining ear, but also when someone talks to me, I don't hear him well and I have to rely on lip reading to complete the missing parts I don't hear.
    With my hearing aid (BAHA, Bone Anchorage Hearing aid), hyperacousia gets worse in times of very bad hyperacousia, so I have to switch it off in the times where my hyperacousia is unmanageable. Otherwise, I keep it because it soothes my hyperacousia (don't ask me the why of such a drastic change, I have no idea). Otherwise, I wear it because it helps in background noise to hear better the persons who talks to me, and because it helps localizing sounds (my ENT doctor didn't expect it, since my SSD is from birth). I can even localize in a building without my hearing aid, I hep myself with walls and furniture's echo to locate a sound.

    In crowds, my sensory overload can create a rage if I cannot escape from there. So birthdays parties are nearly out of question.
    I am the oldest child, so it was not a learned response, but a "natural response" from the sensory overload. I don't think that it is a learned response from his brother, but more a "natural response" due to sensory overload.
    With age, I could learn how to respond to sensory overload, but at your son's age, I did exactly the same !!!

    I have a earplug, but I cannot keep it for more than 1 or 2 hours because if I keep it for too long, I get a tinnitus in my remaining ear.

    I know I always heavily insist on it, but make him tested for sight and hearing impairment.
    Not only because hyperacousia can be explained by a hearing impairment (the remaining hearing works twice for the missing one) but also because even if your son needs to see a psychiatrist, it can only help the psychiatrist to know the sensorial issues, as they influence the diagnosis.

    Hearing tests at school have a lot of false negative, so don't rely on them (it happened to me, and it delayed the SSD diagnosis).
    Also, hearing impairment may not be obvious at all, so express themselves with very subtle signs.

  7. following

    I am the oldest child and when I had a sensory overload as a child, I responded exactly like your son. It was not a "learned response" but the "natural response" of my sensory overload.
    From what you describe, it sounds much more a "natural response" than a "learned response" from his brother.
    A sensory overload can indeed trigger a rage to a child, and the more we fuel the sensory overload, the more violent becomes a rage (I could be very self destructive if i was responded in the way which fueled the rage).
    In such a case, the time out must not look punitive (time out are often associated with punishment), but as a way to decrease the sensory overload.

    What I can also say is that even if I use ear plugs, I cannot keep them for hours because they create a tinnitus (exactly the same kind of tinnitus when I have too much ear wax).

    I don't want to discourage you for the future, but my hyperacousia got worse with age.
    The simple and good reason for hyperacousia getting worse is because my hearing ear got better with age (my dead/deaf ear is still stone deaf).
    It does not help with socializing, I avoid parties as much as possible because it is very hard to manage.
    Finding a job in such a situation is very hard too, I couldn't continue my volunteer job because the office was so noisy that I could barely do what I was asked. I was very good at the job itself, but the noise was too hard to make it manageable (the job was entering data and some help with computer stuff, something I am good at. But a noisy desk was too hard to deal with. I liked my desk mates, the chief, but really, it was too hard to deal with).
    I will study law by correspondence, because it is the most realistic way to make it achievable : the problem of too much noise + big building makes "normal" studying unachievable.
    Some people reproach me this decision because they are obsessed by the socialization, but never mind, I give them up because they don't worth arguing with.