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Update December 17, 2012

Posted by linnic in behavior, Diagnosis, Education, Medication.
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Over the past 5 months, things have improved for the most part.  During my son’s last hospitalization, we had a complete med overhaul and that seemed to have put us on a better path.   His current medications include Zyprexa, Kapvay, Depakote, Wellbutrin, as well as melatonin.  He is also taking thyroid medication.  He had not shown any problems with his thyroid until we did a trial of Lithium just prior to his last hospitalization.  He was diagnosed upon dismissal with Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.

At home, he is doing very well.  For the first time in at least 4 years, we have been able to do fun things as a family.  We have been able to go to museums, restaurants, and to the movies.  These may seem like small things, but we were literally homebound much of the time because we didn’t want to risk him having a rage in an uncontrolled environment.  I feel like our whole family is beginning a healing process that will no doubt take quite sometime, but at least we are at a point where healing is an option.

School has not been as successful.  Last year we had to move him to a school that specializes in educating students who can’t make it in a regular school.  I was not excited by the move.  We had AMAZING teachers and paras at the elementary school, and after 5 years, they really knew how best to work with him.  Unfortunately, things had escalated to a point where the other students weren’t safe due to his rages.  He did fairly well at the school until October of this year.  About 6 weeks ago, I received a call that he was being escorted to our local crisis center by the police and his principal.  While there they were able to calm him down and get us an immediate appt with his doctor so that we would not have to hospitalize again.  About a week and a half later, I got a call that he was being placed under arrest for assault and disorderly conduct.  He was released to our custody with an agreement to take him to our juvenile center for processing.

My biggest fear was always that he would hurt someone and get arrested.  I’ve always been told, “oh he’s little yet, he’ll grow out of it, don’t worry…”  Thankfully no one was seriously injured, but all I can think about is that my fears are slowly becoming reality.  I have not given up hope, of course, but it is daunting.

 

ADHD October 7, 2008

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis.
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Here is a great blog post about ADHD, and much of it can be related to bipolar as well.  It is posted by Cool Cat Teacher and is her take on a presentation by Dr. Shepard.  Please go read “Get out of that wheelchair and run“!

Newsweek Article May 30, 2008

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis.
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Newsweek had a very interesting article this week about bipolar in kids. Several times while reading the story, I was not sure if I was reading a magazine or my own diary. I could relate to SO many of the events in Max’s life. Of you have a child with bipolar, or know someone who does, I HIGHLY recommend reading this article!

One quote that really “got me”: “There was one good thing about this strange diagnosis, she thought: at least it meant she wasn’t a bad mother.”

While the mother in the article had moved past this point of view, I think I am still partially here. I think that at times I use the diagnosis to “prove” that I’m not a bad parent. I feel for the family in this story, but can relate on so many levels!

Is it bipolar? May 18, 2008

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis, Resources.
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If you are concerned that your child may have bipolar, or if you are not sure, The Bipolar Child – What to Look For is a great article to read. It talks about how closely related bipolar and ADHD are in children but lists a few distinguishing criteria:

  • ADHD kids break things carelessly while bipolar kids tend to do so in anger.
  • ADHD kids calm down in 20 to 30 minutes while bipolar kids tend to rage for hours.
  • Children with ADHD are triggered by overstimulation while bipolar children typically react to limit-setting, such as a parental “no”.
  • ADHD children are often unaware of the danger of their behavior, while bipolar children tend to be risk-seeking.

I would highly encourage you to read the full article.

To hospitalize or not? April 26, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior, Diagnosis, Medication.
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My son had to be hospitalized for the first (God willing the last) time this past October.  I mentioned this in a previous post, but did not go into much detail.

Last October we moved, this was a tough time for every but especially for my son.  His behavior at home and school was at an all time low.  We were restraining multiple times a day.  His episodes would last anywhere from 30 min to over 2-3 hours.  We would be in a restraint for 15 minutes, out for 10, then back into another one.  We were under the care of a psychiatrist and a social worker, but nothing seemed to be helping.

In early October, he was having horrible problems at school.  I am a teacher at the school he was attending and was having to leave my class to help with him.  That afternoon we had him in the principal’s office and were in the 3rd restraint of the day.  He was completely out of control and trying to knock over and throw furniture, hit, kick, and bite the 4 adults in the room.  It reminded me of caged animal.  We were 30 minutes into a restraint and he was only becoming more aggressive.  Our school counselor worked at a crisis center on the weekends and suggested it.   I knew the time had come to seek hospitalization.  What I didn’t know was that the only psychiatric hospital in town did not accept kids under the age of 12.  The closest place that did was 3 1/2 hours away.

We called in a police officer to help us transport him to the crisis center.  He finally calmed when the officer walked into the room.  By the time we were at the crisis center he was calm, but not back to normal.  His speech and thought processing was significantly delayed.  The crisis center set up an appointment with the hospital to admit him, and my father and I drove with him for the 3 1/2 hour trip to the hospital.

Having never admitted someone to a psychiatric hospital, I did not know what it entailed.  We arrived around midnight and they gave us some paperwork to fill out.  Soon, a nurse came down to get him.  We said our goodbyes to him, gave him a hug and kiss and he left.  I did not know that it would be 2 days before I would see him again.

Apparently many parents drop off their child and head home, but there was no way I could leave him in a city 3 1/2 hours away.  We found a hotel and stayed the night.  The next day, my father and I wanted to return to the hospital but were discouraged to do so.  They wanted time to evaluate him and get a handle on the situation.  We set out to find an affordable place to stay for the week they were projecting he would be there.

The week ended up being 5 days, but it was the longest 5 days.  During that time I saw him on 3 different days each time for only 1 hour.  This was my little baby.  he was only 5 years old and I felt that I had sent him to jail.  There were tears every time he went back into the facility.

The hospitalization put everyone through hell.  My son, dad, myself, but also those left back at home…his grandma, sister, brother, and stepdad.  We left there with new medications, a new diagnosis- bipolar mood disorder, and a new appreciation for family.

Was it the right decision to hospitalize him?  I will never know.  It did qualify us for some intensive services through our county’s mental health agency- free services.  His medication, therapy sessions, and even attendant care (someone to sit with him in school or at home to help him control himself) are all paid for.  We now have access to services that we could not have provided for him.  We finally have a doctor with a lot of experience dealing with kids like my son.

I certainly hope that no one reading this will ever have to go through what we went through last October.  I have never felt more alone and like a terrible parent as I did during those 5 days.  I do believe it helped us, even if indirectly.  Things have significantly improved since that time.  Things are far from perfect, but they are better.

ADHD vs. Bipolar April 25, 2008

Posted by linnic in behavior, Diagnosis, Resources.
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I just found a great article discussing the similarities and differences between bipolar disorder and ADHD in children. I have included an excerpt from the article below. Visit http://www.adhdnews.com/bipolar.htm for the full article. I simply can not believe how well some of this describes my little guy!

By Dr. Charles Popper

Similarities

Both disorders share many characteristics: impulsivity, inattention, hyperactivity, physical energy, behavioral and emotional lability (behavior and emotions change frequently), frequent coexistence of conduct disorder and oppositional-defiant disorder, and learning problems. Motor restlessness during sleep may be seen in both (children who are bipolar are physically restless at night when “high or manic”,though they may have little physical motion during sleep when “low or depressed”). Family histories in both conditions often include mood disorder. Psychostimulants or antidepressants can help in both disorders (that is, depending on the phase of the bipolar disorder). In view of the similarities, it is not surprising that the disorders are hard to tell apart.

Differences

So what features can help in distinguishing these two disorders? Some distinctions are obvious.

1. Destructiveness may be seen in both disorders but differs in origin. Children who are ADHD often break things carelessly while playing (“non-angry destructiveness”), whereas the major destructiveness of children who are bipolar is not a result of carelessness, but tends to occur in anger. Children who are bipolar may exhibit severe temper tantrums, during which they release manic quantities of physical and emotional energy, sometimes with violence and property destruction.

2. The duration and intensity of angry outbursts and temper tantrums in the two disorders differs. Children who are ADHD usually calm down within 20-30 minutes, whereas children who are bipolar may continue to feel and act angry for over 30 minutes and even for 2-4 hours. The physical energy that a child with ADHD “puts out” during an outburst of anger could be mimicked by an adult who tries to “enact” the tantrum, whereas the energy generated by angry children who are bipolar could not be imitated by most adults without reaching exhaustion within a few minutes.

Copyright adhdnews.com

Biploar Children April 5, 2008

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis, Resources.
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When we got the diagnosis for our son last October of Bipolar Mood Disorder, I didn’t know what to think.  Was this just another label to add to list or was this accurate?  I began doing some research and everything I read seemed to describe my son perfectly.  During that research, I ran across one of the best on managing the often erratic, and unexplainable behaviors associated with the disorder.  Julie Ward is the author of the article “Techniques for Dealing with the Bipolar Child”  The article lists the mood, symptom, signs, and techniques associated with various behaviors.

The Beginning October 24, 2007

Posted by linnic in Diagnosis, IEP, Medication.
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My son was born 5 years ago and from the beginning, had more energy than his body could handle. By 5 months, he was doing “tummy scrunches”. He would lift his head and feet up off the floor while lying on his back. He did this so much, his little tummy looked bloated!

Later we hit the terrible twos. He wasn’t much different from any other toddler. He had way more energy than mom and we were forever chasing him. He had temper tantrums like any other boy his age. Unlike many boys his age, these tantrums never improved.

When he was 3 he started preschool. Within 6 months he was being sent home for hurting others. We sought counseling. Things kept getting worse. His tantrums became unmanageable and we had to physically restrain him. I have a background in special education and had been trained to deal with severe behaviors that required physical restraint. Soon we were restraining daily. We sought out a psychiatrist to begin medication. Soon, things at school were not good and he was asked not to return. We sought testing for special education placement. So far we were told this was ADHD (a severe case) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

Testing showed he was gifted in math. No surprise there. At 2 years he was able to add and subtract in his head, although he had no idea what math symbols were. He was placed on an IEP and into a special education Pre-K. With med adjustments occurring monthly, things still weren’t right. He completed the program and we had a nice summer. That brings us to the present.

This year my son started kindergarten. His first few days were great. We were in the process of finding a new house, and moved about a month ago. This set us into a downward spiral that we are still in the middle of. At the beginning of October, he had an episode at school in which he was restrained for over an hour, the decision was made (by me and the school personnel) to call in a community police officer to help transport him to a crisis center. A hospitalization at a pediatric psychiatric hospital followed. That had to have been the worst 5 days of my life! Since we have had med changes, and finally, what I consider an accurate diagnosis. The diagnosis of Pediatric Onset Bipolar Disorder was given last week. Since then I have done a TON of research and things are finally making sense. I see the mood swings that he is cycling through at the incredible rate of manic to depressive within minutes.

I decided to begin this blog as an outlet for myself and hopefully as a resource to others. I have not yet found a support group, but am looking for one. Until then, and even after, I plan to use this blog to post my thoughts, research and insight.