17 yr old son with severe ADHD with Bipolar not ruled out

Tracy - posted on 06/22/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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Hello, we have been battling with our son now for over 10 years with ADHD. Started with Ritalin at age 5 and ended Ritalin at age 13 as it wasn't doing anything for our son anymore and all the pediatrician was doing was keep increasing instead of trying new methods.

At age 15 we started have huge problem with him, he became physically agressive with our younger son who was 13 at the time, along with inviting his dad into physical confrontations. He has attempted to push his dad down the stairs, slammed his dad's hand in the door and be right in our faces yelling and swearing at us at the top of his lungs.

Age 16 he was chased home by a group of teens in a vehicle, resulting in numerous kids being expelled from school and a couple of them being charged criminally for the incident. It was at this time that our son then did not feel safe at school and took it upon himself to quit school with only 1 month left to complete his grade 10. Since then we have been in numerous meetings with Alberta Mental Health and a Child Psychiatrist who have labelled him as severe ADHD,prescribing STRATERRA and instructing us that we are not to leave our children at home alone due to his physical violence and agression he has displayed with his younger brother. This resulting in me losing my income to stay at home.

In December 2010 we had to call the RCMP to come and remove him from our home for a violent outburst with his brother. He was choking him, and beating him. It was at this time that he was refusing to take his medication and had to stay in the hospital for a week on the pediatric ward instead of the psychiatric ward because he is a minor. Pediatrics did absolutely nothing for him, he sat in his room watching TV and free run of the hospital...just couldn't go outside without an adult present to sign him out. At this time the psychiatrist put him on Vyvanse in the morning and Seroquel at night to make him drowsy. We were instructed to take away all electronics from his room. We were then in meetings twice a week with Mental Health for family therapy and support, at which time we could see his game of being Mr. sweet and innocent in it all, but look out as soon as we left the building. He felt and still feels that he doesn't have a problem that we all need to chill out and leave him alone.

His meds were increased again 3 months ago by psychiatrist, Now taking Vyvanse, Straterra and Seroquel in the morning and Seroquel again at night. These medications are very expensive $400.00 per month, we have no health coverage from employer, and I have no income to assist our family living making things very difficult. The meds work for about a month and then its like he becomes immune to them. Now he is smoking dope, running for days at a time with nobody knowing his whereabouts, has been charged criminally with possession of property obtained by crime. He constantly tells us to F&^k off, chill out, its his life and none of our business. He has now decided that he isn't going to take his meds because they cost too much #1 and #2 he says they don't do anything for him.

His grandmother who lives in another province is enabling him non stop by giving him large amounts of money to supply him with smokes. The other night she new that he was in the ER getting stitches and didn't feel the importance to let us know when we were talking to her that same night. We didn't find out that he was in the ER until 2 days later when he came home.
She isn't supporting us as parents...we have tried everything with this kid. We told him if he wasn't going to school that he had to get a full-time job and we wanted $300 per month for him to live here. Honestly, we thought he would choose to go back to school...but he didn't. So he paid it for the first 3 months until he lost his job. Now we are being looked down upon by his grandmother for making him pay rent. REALLY...where cane you live for $10 a day, including meals, rides to and from work, a roof over your head and full usage of the home, plus still disrespecting our home and disobeying/avoiding all of his personal responsibilities of cleaning up after himself, doing laundry, and dishes twice per week.

We understand that he has a mental disability, we have reasonable expectations and only want to see our son succeed. As parents, we only have 6 months left to turn this kid around until he turns 18 and has full control of his life and choices.

HELP we are at our wits end, and ready to put him out. We can't take his abusiveness any longer, his actions are almost bankrupting our family. We can't go to family outtings because he doesn't care where he "puts on a show". It is stressing our marriage and deeply affecting our younger son.

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Jane - posted on 07/05/2011

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I hate to say it but your son sounds like mine, with one exception. He was first treated for anger when he was 6, with Guanfacine (aka Tenex, a short-acting and much cheaper version of Intuniv) and with anger management classes. He was first put in a pediatric psych ward when he was 7 (for trying to kill himself and his sister). He went back when he was 9 (suicide again but by setting fire to his room and locking himself in), went back again at 11, and at 13, and then to residential treatment for five months in a pediatric neuro-psych facility where they were able to locate the damaged parts of his brain and discover why he didn't "listen" (his brain does not always get the message from his eyes and ears so he really doesn't know someone has said something). His formal diagnosis is ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and Bipolar Disorder.

He has taken a baseball bat to my car, destroyed his furniture and the walls and doors in his room, and he refuses to do any chores. He has attacked teachers, attacked his father, stolen from me and his sister, and made it impossible to go to family functions.

Sound familiar?

Instead of simply increasing his Ritalin, his psychiatrist switched him to a different form. First was Concerta and now Metadate. These deliver Ritalin in differing amounts throughout the day, and we are getting better results with actually a smaller dose overall of Ritalin.

He also takes Guanfacine (Tenex) for his anger, Seroquel and Depakote for his Bipolar Disorder, and Trazodone to get him to sleep. He also gets continuing therapy. He is now 16, soon to be 17, and we are, I think, actually making some headway.

I wish you could have started early as we did, but perhaps it isn't too late. At http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/cwdo/res... there is a list of toll free numbers in Canada for mental health organizations. Perhaps someone there can help you.

He sounds as if he needs desperately to go to residential treatment. Unfortunately this is ruinously expensive even with insurance. Is there anything at all that the juvenile justice system can do to help you? Surely it would be in their best interest to do what they can to keep your son from becoming a habitual criminal.

If only to keep yourselves and your other son safe, could you give him to this grandmother who is paying his way? Would she be willing to pay for his stay in a treatment facility? In the US there are a few free places, such as the Roloff Home, generally church-related. In addition, have you called Boys Town? Their toll free number for parents in the US and Canada is 1-800-448-3000. Their web site is at http://www.parenting.org/national-hotlin...

If you cannot get him help as a juvenile, then you may have to push him out the door and let him fly or fall on his own. Then I suggest that you compile a list of helpful organizations, substance abuse places, and good psych clinics in case he ever comes to you and asks for your help. I got this idea from the book "Why Don't They Just Quit?" ( http://www.amazon.com/Why-Dont-They-JUST... ).

Good luck. Do what you can while you still have the right, but protect yourselves from him as best you can.

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Annemarie - posted on 12/30/2011

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I did turn my abusive child over to Social Services 2 yrs ago. He has gotten the best care and he is actually a HUMAN again!!

Jane - posted on 07/06/2011

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"Mental health last advised us that it might be best if we contact Child and Family Services and sign over temporary guardianship to them until he turn 18 in Feb. Totally ridiculous!!!!"

Not so ridiculous actually. I know parents who have done this because that was the only way to get their kids into the treatment they needed because of the cost. In addition, it removes the volatile, potentially dangerous person from the house.

We actually looked into it with our son. He had gotten angry and broken my foot by punching it. He also pushed my disabled husband down onto the floor. He was verbally abusive and really was a potential danger. Child Protective Sevices even suggested we sign him over for our own protection. In addition, we do have insurance (although it doesn't cover everything) so we are not eligible for government programs. By giving him to the state, my son would become eligible for al the MHMR programs.

If he really does become a risk to your health and safety, it is something to consider.

Tracy - posted on 07/06/2011

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Thank you very much ladies for taking the time to read about our circumstances and your personal advices.
Update of our son----he has now taken himself off of all meds. Vyvance was for the ADHD(severe spectrum) as well as Strattera as a booster, the Seroquel in the morning with the other 2 pills and seroquel at night which was suppose to make him sleep.
We have had more meetings with mental health, the next meeting comes in a couple of weeks including the psychiatrist. He has court on the 18th for the theft of a snowmobile, hoping that the judge orders some sort of treatment for him.
Mental health last advised us that it might be best if we contact Child and Family Services and sign over temporary guardianship to them until he turn 18 in Feb. Totally ridiculous!!!!
Thank you for the resources posted and we will definately check into them.

Jane - posted on 07/05/2011

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Heather, I appreciate your comment. How I wish I didn't know so much about pediatric psychiatry.

My son also metabolizes the extended release meds too quickly so he takes two Metadate when he gets up, and then another one 4 to 5 hours later. But even at this he is consuming less Ritalin than when he was taking Concerta. Also Ritalin itself only lasted about two hours at most.

Heather - posted on 07/05/2011

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Jane, your post is one of the most helpful that I have ever read on here. Thank you so much for taking the time to provide resources. I agree about the different meds...my son metabolizes extended release meds too quickly, so he takes regular Ritalin along with Tenex. Works great for him.

Heather - posted on 07/05/2011

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I truly feel for you. It is so hard to have a child who you try to help, but who does not want to help themselves. My 16yo daughter was diagnosed ADD inattentive, GAD, and OCD. Her OCD manifests itself in skin picking, and it took many months to get that under control after realizing that the ADD med aggrevates the OCD. So, no ADD meds even though she needs them badly for her impulsiveness. We have battled this for almost four years now, and it has been such a mental and emotional drain. I love this child, but she is a liar, a manipulator, deceptive, and will get away with anything and everything that she can. For the past year we have been dealing with her accessing a person she met on the web in anyway she can. She has no phone, no computer access, but snuck her brother's phone and 9000 messages in less than one week! Anyway, this came to a head at the end of May, we admited her to children's mental health hospital. They diagnosed her ADD/GAD/MDD/OCD, and put her Cymbalta and Seroquel. This seems to work when she is med compliant. We have been doing LOTS and LOTS of therapy. A few weeks ago, though, she was caught again and had a temper tantrum, so my husband called the police. They came out and explained to her that until she is 18 she listens to our rules, otherwise we can have her taken away in cuffs for being 'ungovernable' and send to juvenile. That seemed to make the biggest difference. Somedays I am just so tired of it all. I want MY life back. I hold onto the though that she is only here until she is 18. I know it sounds terrible, but I'm being honest. Do not let anyone else judge your situation, you know that you are doing what you think is the best for your son. Just want to add also that Intuniv did not work for my very ADHD son, it made him terribly moody, irritable, and his behaviors were much worse. (((HUGS)))

Amanda - posted on 06/29/2011

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Tracy,

I feel for you. I have a 17 yo who is in a similar situation with the exception that he has a brain injury on top of everything else so he has a seizure disorder and has to take twice the meds. My son also has rage issues and will be starting anger management classes in about 2 weeks. His raging doesn't get as physical with his little brother as your son does, but he does get in his step dad's face often. We actually put him in a homeless shelter for a week to see if there was anything they could do for him and that is where he will be getting the anger management help. I have no idea what you may have available in Canada because I am in the states. But it might be worth it to check it out. If he has a valid mental disorder he may be entitled to some disability insurance. Also find out whether they have a juvenille justice system that actually helps kids who are labled as "unruly" or the like. The wording is so different between countries I'm not sure what to tell you to try. Right now our son is trying to find a jonb because we told him when he turns 18 he is out on his own since he thinks that is what he should be now. It's gonna be a hard lesson.

As for meds, my son is on Vyvanse as well and seems to be doing better on it than the rest of them, but with the brain injury, he has lapses in memory. A warning about Seroquel....it can cause VERY violent swings in behavior if it is gone off without weaning. When my son was 10, his Dr took him off of it abruptly and he tried to hit his stepdad with a 2x4 among other things and we had to hospitalize him to get his meds back under control.

Anyway, I wish you all the luck in the world and like I said, check with your government agencies to see what might be available to help him out.

Mandy

Donna - posted on 06/29/2011

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Hi Tracy, my heart goes out to you and your family. I know how much you all must be suffering, and I can tell you have just about had enough. You mention "province" so I know you are not in the USA - which I am. I am surprised that the doctors continue giving him stimulants seeing that he is aggressive. Have you tried intuniv? that helps a lot with the irritability and agression. My son has some of the same characteristics as yours - the entitlement, lack of respect, impulsivity combined with irritability which makes for a loose cannon. The only thing that could possibly make a difference in the short time you have left, would be either a Wilderness Therapy Camp, or a Therapeutic Boarding school. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Unfortunately, both cost a fortune. But, perhaps in your area, they may have sliding scales and financial aid. If you do a search on the web, you can see that these schools really address the core issues -- and your family gets a welcome break, knowing your son is safe and getting the care he needs. Also try a community mental health center in your area to find out what resources are available - which ones are private, assisted by the government, and public. In the US they have a program called PINS - Persons in need of supervison - my son is in this program and mandated to go to Drug Counselling, and Anger Managerment group. The social worker knows about all the (free) programs available, and since my son is only 13, he has complied (otherwise he has to go before the judge and get in the juvenile criminal system). If he does not improve, I will send him to therapeutic boarding school. Your son is as desperate -- if not more -- than you are, be gentle with him, his mental state is fragile even though he is puts on the aggressive act, and if he is taking drugs, that puts his mind even more over the edge. Put your mind at rest: you will not turn this kid around in 6 months unless you can do something drastic and put him in an intensive therapeutic program (such as the boarding school). Otherwise, just love him, let him know when his behavior is unacceptable, but let him know you love and care. soon he will be gone and the world out there is a cruel place. when he "comes to his senses", perhaps in a few years, will he be able to come back to you?

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