Handling violent behavior in teenager

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jandec
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23 Jan 2007, 1:45 pm

Hi. I'm new to this site and am desperately looking for help and advise. My 14 yr old stepson has always been a sweet, eager-to-please child. Until recently! Back in Sept, we experienced the first "outburst" with him where he refused to go to school. He became extremely hostile and violent, tried to grab a knife and threatened to hurt himself. He ended up in a behavioral hospital for 2 weeks and has been in individual and group counseling ever since. In the past month, we've had 2 more "outbursts". During the 1st one, he ran away and when his father caught up with him, he had found a piece of glass on the ground and went after his dad with it. He was insistent it was school causing him stress and if he didn't go to school, he could deal better. We took him out of school and have been looking for other options but in the mean time, it continues. Last night, we experienced a 2nd outburst and had to call the police to help us control him and he is again in the hospital. He speaks of killing his father and schoolmates if he is made to go back to school.

Has anyone ever experienced this? Could it be that he can't deal with the hormones of puberty? He had been diagnosed with asperger's but recently, his group therapist said she feels he is high functioning autistic. We live in northern virginia and need a specialist in Autism/Aspergers. Any help, feedback would be appreciated. We are at a loss. Thank you in advance.



katrine
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23 Jan 2007, 3:02 pm

I feel very sorry for you and your family. We are going through a tough time with our son ourselves, so I know how desperate it makes you feel!
My son isn't as old as your's, so I have no experience with teenagers, but I can imagine it is hard for kids with AS because of hormones and also identity issues - a lot of teenagers want to be "normal".
Does he have friends at school? Is he being bullied? Are all the conflicts school related?



PenitentSpark
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23 Jan 2007, 7:16 pm

Ask him what specificly is wrong with school - and with violent outbursts like that - I'd wonder if antidepressants or some other medications might help.



jandec
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23 Jan 2007, 8:19 pm

We have repeatly asked him why he doesn't want to go to school and the most frequent answer is the work is too hard. He gets A's and B's. He also will say there are too many people in the class. We've repeatly asked if anyone bullies or bothers him and he insists no. Everyone is nice, he likes his teachers. With his IEP, the parents must be in close communication with the school so we feel if bullying were a factor, we'd know about it. Bottomline, we are now believing the public school set up wasn't for him and will look for alternatives. The outburts are our main concern and getting him stable. The doctors are looking at various meds right now. We've tried many....none seem to work though.



ster
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24 Jan 2007, 10:46 pm

i am so sorry that you are going thorugh this....this sounds identical to what we went through with our son at age 13....not easy, not mundane, not fun....i honestly don't know how we got through everything.i wish i could be of more help. the one thing that made some difference for our son was our reaction to the realization that he wasn't really sleeping ~ we strove to get himm on efficient meds, and finally found the right med cocktail. lack of sleep really can do quite a number on a person.
another thought....if he's been bullied, have you thought about PTSD?



jandec
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25 Jan 2007, 10:57 am

Dear Ster, How old is your son now? Once you found the right medications, did he improve? What types of meds helped? Our son has never been much of a sleeper. You may have something there. Thanks. Hope to hear from you again.



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25 Jan 2007, 3:03 pm

Maybe the meds are the problem... I do some stuff with juvenile justice and there many a case where sweet kids are made violent with medications. Maybe its time to stop those?


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ster
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25 Jan 2007, 5:00 pm

my thoughts on meds are this: 1. meds don't work for everyone...sometimes they do the exact opposite of what they're supposed to do. 2. any changes in meds need to be looked at VERY carefully & with a dr's ok..............alright, so now that i've said that,i feel better. when son started becoming more & more anxious with no end in sight, we started him on a very low dose of Paxil. he stayed on that for a year with some improvement~looking back, probably not enough of one to justify the meds. after that, we switched him to Prozac~ a low dose, again...then he went through a series of increased doses of Prozac. ...then he was hospitalized for suicidal ideation~docs put him on Depakote in addition to the Prozac. Depakote made him eat ravenously, but didn't do much else... finally had doc pull him off of depakote & we tried Wellbutrin. we also put him on Seroquel at that time....it was right around that time that he began to sleep better.
it's unfortunate that researchers cannot come up with a drug that will universally work for the majority~like Tylenol works for a large number of people. Meds are, unfortunately, often just a matter of trial and error.
i'd definitely take a good, long look at whatever meds your son is on now & think about possible side effects. i'd also take a look at how much he's sleeping, and try to address that....there are many ways to address sleep issues without meds, btw. exercise, reduce caffeine,etc.
keep me posted...you can pm me if you wish



Endersdragon
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25 Jan 2007, 5:21 pm

^^^ agrees with the above but also I have to add that if he was functioning well enough before the med switch maybe no meds is best.


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solid
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25 Jan 2007, 6:43 pm

i went through this stage and belive me, MEDS WON'T WORK. for the time being keep tensions at a minimum and calf him down before something sets him off


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solid
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25 Jan 2007, 6:45 pm

and by the way, i'm 14 and am dxed with AS. at the moment he may be wondering why he's different so i would tell him that he's autistic and try and get him to make friends with someone with it, if you want then i'm willing too


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SandySue
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26 Jan 2007, 8:00 am

We went through the same issues with hormones and sleep issues. The doctor put him on Buspar. It is a non-addicting anti-anxiety medication. It doesn't work for everyone, but it has worked for my 14 year old son. We haven't had a violent outburst since, and he sleeps for the first time ever. He is also in therapy. I'm not really sure how much help the therapy is, but it gives him a guy to talk to once in a while and as a single mom, I figure that's worth something.

Sandy



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06 Feb 2007, 7:20 am

Sorry for the lengthy post.... I guess this has been a long time coming...

This current topic is one we can definately relate to! Our 15 year old daughter is currently in emergency detention at our local hospital due to a recent violent outburst. This is her 4th hospitalization (1st emergency detention) in 6 years! :cry: This is actually a very sweet, intellegent, loving girl who is struggling with acceptance (or lack thereof) at school, sensory overload, hormonal changes and the knowledge that she is different ... or in her words a 'freak'. :cry: But lately, the lack of friends and the ability to maintain a friendship has been too much for her to bare.

She has been struggling with behavior, communication and social issues since she was 3. Has had an IEP and special school programming to ensure small class sizes and necessary accomodations (writing, reading and note taking are VERY difficult for her) ever since. We have gone from Dr. to Dr. had test after test and have tried several different medications over the years. Some worked... some were a nightmare and currently we are going through yet another med change... now it's Seroquel 200 mg and Adderall 30 mg. I assume at this age the body is changing so rapidly that med adjustments are just going to be a given. :-( Unfortunately, I think the med may be the reason for her current hospitalization.

She was first dxd w/ ADHD... then ODD.... then possible BP and most recently.... PDD with Mood Disorder. We are in the paperwork stage of yet another neuro-pysch eval.... she had one when she was 8 years old and at that time did not meet all of the diagnositic criteria for AS. We were told to have her re-evaluated in her teens when the social aspects could be better evaluated. Her pysch suspects Aspergers.

Has anyone else experienced med related violent outbursts.... specifically with Seroquel? I read on a different post that anti-pyschotics may NOT be the right type of med for AS.

I just want to add that I have been reading posts on this site for quite some time (although just registered today) ...hoping to find some answers (hence the nickname). Our daughter has also registered on this site (at our suggestion) and has found it VERY helpful to 'meet' people who are a lot like her. This site is WONDERFUL!! ! I too have found some comfort in knowing we are are NOT the only one's going through this. Thank-you all.

Beth



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06 Feb 2007, 7:54 am

Hi, I am also new to this site with a 10 year old who has Aspergers, ADHD and ODD. I experience similar problems but not at home only at school. My son has been suspended for terms at a time. Luckily he tends to talk to my mum about issues at school which cause his anger levels to rise. I dont know if this can help but a lot of the problems from my sons point of view seems to be other children misunderstanding him and the sly things they do to him when no one is watching. He copes with "getting" the other kids before they "get" him. At the age of 7 he became suicidal in his thinking and just couldnt cope. I found changing his school has helped. The biggest thing for them is that they bottle everything up at school and home is the "safe" place for them to be where they can release all the pent up frustration without being judged. The acts of voilence is not appropriate under any circumstance and an alternative outlet for his feelings might need to be investigated. I dont know if this helps to understand children with ADHD and anger problems as each child is different. I just thought it might be helpful to put across the way my son thinks.



jandec
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06 Feb 2007, 5:28 pm

All,
Very good, helpful information. Please keep it coming. Here is what I believe as a Dad in my heart:

* He has something on the PDD spectrum- call it AS, high functioning autism, whatever.
* Whatever he has is difficult for doctors to identify and more difficult to treat. So this leads to more trial and error and one is in a constant state of either confusion and/or doubt.
* The sweatness in personality is there partially because he was oblivious to his differences- and they did not matter to him. He was fine to be all alone and not feel excluded.
* At 13 he started to become more aware of his differences, particularly socially. He kind of knows he should be more accepted and that he should have more friends, but does not know how or is shy to initiate.
* Being social is something forced upon us as humans. Except for hermits I guess, to varying degrees we all must be "social". My son does one of 2 things to deal with his social challenges- 1. Avoidance- he justs shuts down completely- does not want to do or go anywhere- can't do it, too hard, will never change, etc. 2. He escapes to a make believe, social environment that is safe and where he cannot be hurt, or judged. He can be successful in this environment. For him it started with wanting to be the husband of actress Robin Wright who played Jenny in Forrest Gump. He replaced her with Helen Hunt and has even said he would kill himself if he is not her husband by age 21. Crazy, yes, but there is actually some logic here. HE IS TRYING TO BE SOCIAL! This is what we want, but just not this way.
* Add to this he started his puberty and in the last several weeks has in my opinon been in the peak of this- he started shaving, growing, hair showing up in new places, some acne, etc. So I assume his body chemistry is going crazy right now and who knows what all this does.
* Many men I have asked who are shall we dare use the word "normal" have stated they had a year or so of early teen age years where they just felt blah and life was difficult. I went though this as well and I do not have a condition on the spectrum. What my point here is that life can be difficult for a while for even the best teen with no conditions or social or academic challenges. How much of this is just being a teen age boy?
So, I am not in denial, but strongly feel like a lot of this is just survival for a year or two. I am not saying things will ever be perfect, but much better- more clairity, some confidence will come back.
He has now been on Seroquel for 14 days currently at 50mg in am, 50 at 2:00 pm, and 350mg at bedtime. Prior to that he was on Abilify. If after another week or two if we don't see something positive that we can directly tie to the Seroquel, then we plan on removing all meds and trying to go with something natural for sleep like Melatonin. Our plan is to kind of flush his system, start over, and see what happens.

I guess a good question would be has anyone had success with the full removal of meds, or is it more like eventually finding the right mix.

Too all- to heck with the condition- believe that this can be dealt with. Trust that our society will continue to learn and perhaps by the time our kids reach adulthood there will be something- not necessarily a "cure", but some tools or findings to make things easier. Believe in them and their own ability to cope, adapt, learn. Encourage them to find something in their life to look forward to, to hold onto, to stick around for. Tell them constantly that you love them and that you think they are awesome. I don't care what my son has- I would not trade him for any other son in the world. The family and ALL members- step, half, adopted, whatever needs to be their safe place to fall and come to. Maintain this environment for them.
Would very much welcome all comments to this- negative or positive.



SweXtal
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06 Feb 2007, 6:01 pm

jandec wrote:
Thank you in advance.


Yes. You are describing my pubertal problems actually. Thank god my parents did the only right thing, they let me go my own way to sort things out. I haven't sorted all things out but I'm managing a life by some way or another.

But don't get fooled of sweet talking etc, and be absolute in rules. There's no 3-cage situation here but it's a binary right wrong. I wish you luck, because if he's similar to me, you have a situation. Grab him before he does something desperately stupid and ruins something.