Wednesday, August 21, 2013

8 yr old physically attacks even the police

My son is now 8 years old. He has been on medication and seen therapists since he was 2 years old. He is now in a residential treatment center. He has been on numerous medications.  His diagnosis now is adhd, conduct disorder, ptsd, disruptive behavior disorder,  severe agression mood disorder,  not otherwise specified. He had recently got a felony charge for hitting a dcf lady with a socket wrench. He has destroyed my house, he will attack anybody including the police when he is in one of his rages. He has the same issues at school. I am trying hard to get him on track. Any information you have for me would be appreciated.  I don't want to lose him to the authorities.  (His father had anger issues also, don't know his diagnosis. ..he is now deceased.)

Hi, It would be important for a mental health professional to review all the diagnoses you mention and to review your child's and family's history to try to determine what issues are most significant and where you can best intervene.   There could be a number of causes for your son's explosive outbursts, but where should you start?  A child psychologist and/or psychiatrist might be able to review everything and help you devise a plan. 

My parent's manual offers strategies for dealing with anger overload, but when there is PTSD, ADHD, or severe mood disorders, more intensive therapy and medication are often needed in addition.   When  ADHD and mood disorders are better controlled;  then a child's rage reactions will not be so explosive.  If your son is not so quick to explode, it will be more likely that the staff can re-direct him using the techniques I outline in my parent's manual.  The first half of the manual specifies what adults can do to help, and the second half outlines how to teach children to recognize their anger and to gain better self-control themselves.

When applying the techniques in my manual, it will be important for staff first to identify the types of situations that are more likely to trigger your son's rage, and to identify early signs of anger (if possible) before he explodes.  If the staff can catch it early, they may be able to use "emotional distraction" and/or relaxation strategies to divert him.  I review these techniques in my manual and in previous posts on this website.  The key is early intervention because if you can catch anger early there is a greater likelihood that emotional distraction will work.

Once your child is in full anger overload, the main thing is to insure everyone's safety.  Keep dangerous objects away from him, and the staff probably has a restraint procedure to make sure no one is seriously hurt.  Hopefully in the residential facility there is a treatment team that can get at the key causes of his outbursts and help him develop better self-control.

All the best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb

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