Anger Issues

by Carra Connors
(Everett, Washington, USA)

Hi my name is Carra and I am the mom of a 22 month old who seems to have severe anger issues, if that's possible??? He yells so loud when he's mad he sounds like a grown man in a rage. He hits me, he lunges at me (even when he's not mad), and I don't know what to do??? Time out doesn't work, nothing does. He's been in therapy for 18 months so why this new issue?? Can you please give me some advice??

One other thing. What is the best response to give to people that tell me my son is displaying normal toddler behavior because all they see is his cute smile. Not whats really going on??
Oh my, it sure sounds like you have your hands full. The poor little guy... so out of control, so much anger, so much pain. I do have several questions; has he been officially diagnosed with SPD? Does he have any other diagnoses? When you say he has been in therapy for 18 months... what type of therapy specifically? What disciplines work with him... OT? PT? Speech? What do they do with him? What treatments have they tried? What have they suggested you do with him between visits? If he has SPD, how are they addressing the underlying sensory issues? Is his speech and/or communication skills delayed?

He IS adorable, I must say. But, I will not stop there. He is in emotional pain and so are you. Let's see what we can do to help guide you in the right direction. If you can submit your answers to my questions below, then I can try to help you further. Anyone else who has any questions or comments to help sort this out, feel free to jump in!

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In our prayers
by: Anonymous

We have a 4 year old with SPD - just found this website and Spencer will be in our thoughts and prayers. Hang in there, it is often darkest before the dawn.

other possible diagnosis
by: Aimee

I am on this web site because my son is having/has been having sensory issues severely just recently, but now that I know what I am dealing with I see it has been all his life. Same things you are dealing with.

He was diagnose at 2 1/2 with apraxia (childhood apraxia of speech). But it is not just a speech component. It is a neurological motor planning disorder that affects gross motor, fine motor, and speech. It can be mislabeled as autism, ADHD, and many other things. There are different severities as well and my son is milder than some but that in itself is still extremely challenging.

I am very fortunate to live in Cincinnati, Ohio where we have an apraxia clinic at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and also St. Rita's School for the Deaf, where they have a program for children with apraxia. They utilize sign language to bridge the communication gap. My son started there at 2 years 7 months and could only say mama, dada, ah-ah (for Autumn his baby sister) and ma (for milk, mower, and anything else beginning with m). He could not put 2 words together and seemed to not hear when talked to. Within 3 months he could count to 10, and put few word sentences together and by summer could speak in sentences.

He is going to be 4 in March. Most apraxic children have speech delays, SPD, and hypotonicity (low muscle tone). I am giving you this info to help you seek other possibilities. St. Rita's has a web site also that you can check out what they are doing Also I just attended an apraxia support group on Friday and hearing all you have said sounds so familiar to all the people I was just talking to. I hope I was able to help and know you are not alone!~Aimee

by: carra connors

Here's an update to Spencer's assessment at the University of Washington. They said that he is a bright little boy who's very smart and they know something is going on with the wiring in his brain (lamen's terms). But because they can't look at his brain they don't know what it is so they diagnosed him as having Unspecified Central Nervous System Disorder.

They say he has almost all of the components of ADHD but because he's so young they won't diagnose him as having it after having a behaviorist come into the home, if in a year or two he shows the same symptoms they will look at ADHD again.

They want him genetically tested for Fragile X and after doing a little research wanting that testing done makes sense. With his speech and what he understands he is solidly at the 9-12 month level, which no matter how hard we work at words nothing seems to get thru and I know something is not right with him. I just feel completely let down with the whole assessment process. I went in looking for answers and feel like I left with nothing. The biggest answer I was looking for was WHY, why does he do the things he does? Is it because I'm a bad parent? Because he hates me? Because he's saying screw you??

I just don't know anymore I don't know where to go from here, any suggestions?

It will be difficult to help you further until you answer the questions I have posted previously in all responses below. There are quite a few! And given your disappointing evaluation you had, I would need to know the answers to my questions to be able to direct you further.

Carra answers...
by: Michele Mitchell

He was diagnosed with SPD at 3 months old and has been seeing an OT since then. He also started seeing a Speech Therapist at a year old due to a severe speech delay. They do mostly pressure therapy and that's what they have me do in between (joint compressions, brushing, etc...). I don't feel it's doing what it's supposed to so I have him being assessed at the University of Washington to see what else is going on.

I know there's something else going on. I think he has ADD or ADHD or something; his energy level is off the chart, no ability to focus or concentrate, no attention span, but along with the anger issues he hurts other kids and then laughs... he really thinks it's funny. Keep in mind he's only 22 months and he hits, pulls hair, lays on top of them and makes them cry... I don't know what to do. I'm at the end of my rope.

Thank you for your help and listening, it makes a world of difference to me.

It sounds like it may be a good idea to pursue additional diagnoses besides the SPD in your son's case. It is possible that the SPD can cause all of the behaviors you are talking about, and it would NOT be the first time we've seen this. But, just to make sure, the extra evaluation would be helpful!

What particularly concerns me is that he has been receiving therapy for most of his life (19 of the 22 months) and things are still this severe for him. So... that makes me wonder about a few things.

First... is the OT addressing the SPD in the right ways for him? Is she experienced in treating SPD kids at his age? Is she SIPT certified? What additional OT training does she have regarding working with kids with SPD? How often does she work with him? Has he made ANY progress in therapy??

Second... are you completely consistent at home with the brushing and joint compressions? Did you begin with every two hours every single day for at least two weeks, then have it reassessed by the OT and cut back at some point? How often do you do it now? Are you completely faithful to it? Have you been? It will not help if you aren't. Consistency is immensely important!!

Third... do you have a sensory diet for him that you follow every day? Certain activities that you consistently make sure he does every single day? A lot of proprioceptive input/ heavy work, etc.? Activities that keep him organized and regulated? What therapeutic activities have you done, do you do with him on a regular basis. If this has not been done, it needs to be. Please talk to your OT about a specific sensory diet for him.

submitted by Michele Mitchell-- had to break up due to word # limit)...
by: carra connors

Last... what books have you read regarding SPD? It sounds like some good background information would be helpful for you so you know what he needs and can understand how to best help him. It sounds as though the OT may not have been clearly explaining things to you?? Or that you have not taken the opportunity to get as involved as possible with his therapy. At this point, the therapy should be making a bigger impact than it appears to be. And without knowing you or his therapist I am not sure where things are breaking down... but, it appears something might be??

The following resources may help you...

Need support? I know you do and they will give you some great ideas to answer your questions about how to handle your son and people's reactions. Please join "AllAboutKids, an online support group for parents of SPD kids.

Need more information? Check out the SPD Books at Michele's Bookstore.

Need information about Sensory Diets? Read The SPD Companion backissue... Creating A Sensory Diet

Certainly, continue with your evaluation at the University. I hope they can help guide you in the right direction and that they have some insight for you! Get involved as much as you can in his current therapy, keep asking questions, keep researching, join a support group, and keep being such a wonderful advocate for your son. He needs this from you, and will surely thank you one day. I pray answers and better direction start to come.

Anyone else have any ideas? Tips? comments? Resources?

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