Friday, April 13, 2018

When Oppositional Defiant Disorder Is Really FASD

Our son was 5 years old when he first received a diagnosis of ODD (Oppositional Defiant, Disorder). For all intents and purposes, he appeared very defiant. I remember telling the psychiatrist, "He does whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He has no respect for authority, and consequence's make no difference in his behavior." It wasn't until Braden was diagnosed with FASD, and I started researching it, that I grew increasingly suspicious that Joseph had it as well. The boys are 11 months apart in age, and their birth moms living situation/stressor's hadn't changed in that period of time, making it highly probable that Joseph was affected as well.

In the past 5 years we have learned that short term memory deficit's, auditory processing disorder, world perception and lack of cause and effect, among other things, are the main issue's behind his struggle to follow direction's and obey command's. These are all symptoms of FASD, all symptoms of brain damage, not necessarily ODD.

When we give Joseph a command, it takes him several seconds to process the command and follow through with it. We have learned we need to be patient, because if we jump on him for not listening, he forgets what we originally told him to do and melts down because, "You are mad at me!"

We have also learned that what he hears, isn't necessarily what was spoken. If I tell him to put the milk on the table, he is just as likely to get the juice. Many children with attachment disorder will intentionally fail to follow direction's as means of controlling their circumstances. This is something we dealt with on a daily basis, and we used to think Joseph was doing the same thing, until we learned that processing disorders are common among people with FASD.

Joseph doesn't respond well to consequences which caused him and us no end of grief. If he was supposed to stay on the driveway to ride his bike, without fail he drove through the yard. Warnings, consequences, nothing helped. After having his bike "impounded," he would promptly drive it through the grass again, then have a spectacular tantrum when we insisted he park his bike again. He didn't associate having to park his bike with driving through the yard, no matter how many times we explained. 

Joseph's meltdowns can be something to behold! We used to get very frustrated when he would lay on the floor kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs. His face turned red, as tears and sweat poured down his face. In our opinion, it was total overkill. Then we learned about over stimulation and sensory overload. We learned that trying to reason with him or distract him only made matters worse. Threatening sent him into an uncontrollable rage and he would literally scream for hours. 

Looking back, it is easy to see the many mistakes we made in parenting our son. So many times we only made matters worse because we didn't know what we were dealing with. 

Here are some posts I wrote about our journey thus far:

When Your Child Has Been Diagnosed With FASD 

Parenting Accordingly - Life With FASD

Dysmaturity Extending The Toddler Years

No Boundaries - Living With FASD

10 Tips For Caring For Someone With FASD

What Is It Like To Parent A Child With FASD

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