Hi there. This is my first time writing but not my first time reading. I have a 7 year old boy who is "busy" or "spirited" or "inexhaustable" depending on the euphamism you choose to use. I have finally reached the point where I need to do something, so have made an apppointment with the GP next week to get a referral to an ed psych, and suspect that we will come out of the whole thing with a diagnosis (is that what you're supposed to call it?) of "gifted".
My question to you all is, assuming that we do receive this "diagnosis", how is it going to help me deal with the day to day issues of having an extremely disruptive 7 year old boy in a home where we also have a 4 year old and a 5 year old, and my husband works long hours?
I am very strict with my kids, so this is not an issue of discipline. My son sees a red haze any time something doesn't go his way and flies into a tantrum. He seems to have no concept of why he should follow rules (anyone's rules... not necessarily just mine) if he has a justifiable (in his mind) reason not to. It is impossible to make him see that the rules have to be in place for the greater good and that, even if he sees a valid reason to break them, he must not.
Will receiving a diagnosis help me and has anyone got any tools in their kit to help me deal with this otherwise lovely child?
Sounds just like my DS. I was/am strict but there was a good book that helped me manage his outbursts, rages and tantrums in a firm yet respectful manner. "Setting Limits with your Strong Willed Child" by Robert J. Mac Kenzie which can be bought from Amazon. Saved our family as we also have three and first born DS gets most of the attention positive or negative. The other two seem to get scraps of time between his Over Excitability (OE) moments. He was unmanageable at home and school, we were in meetings with teachers every week. The problems he caused were horrific, not standard stuff, and the parental complaints were stacking up. I lost track of the number of apologies I made to other mums, embarrassment became over-rated as I spoke to another mum and another explaining his OE's and his inability to control them (by the way, he has every single OE there is in a heavy dose, imagine a child living with that! Felt sorry for him actually - to learn about OE's read "Living with Intensity" by Susan Daniels and and Michael Piechowski). Going through this we learned a lot. More knowledge of his OE's and giftedness helped us understand why and gave a positive focus to a vastly negative situation, also meaning he was special needs in a positive way (gifted) so the teachers mindset changed, but didn't help promote change in his behaviour. And although he intellectually understood the issues, emotionally he would erupt or do things his way regardless of others feelings, property damage and social disdain. Until we implemented the "Setting Limits..." book's techniques. Huge improvement. Greatly recommended with unruly, out of the box types. My other compliant children seem like angels in comparison.
Another thing that made a huge difference was going gluten free GF and limiting foods high in sugar even honey, jam, yoghurt etc. (nothing over 5g = 1tsp sugar in a product, most yoghurts have 25g.) Didn't think it would work but was at a point that I would give anything a go out of sheer desperation. Going GF was a slow improvement over three or so months and not until he had gluten again was the difference remarkably noticeable. Sugar and gluten together was a time bomb, a really bad combo. He has been GF for about 10 months and his behaviour still improves gradually as the effects of gluten wear off. I haven't apologised to another mum for four months, and haven't been pulled in for a meeting with a teacher in that time either.
He still has his OE's but they are manageable for him now and he is able to control his anger, disappointment and actions. I used to see our lives stretch out before us as one long battle with exhaustion as the only result, now things improve each week and I thank goodness I listened to a lady who understood, as her gifted boy had been the same and she recommended gluten free. It took me two months to decide to try it but when I did... what a sanity saver.
If you have been reading posts around this forum then I'm sure you realise the potential for your other kids to be gifted too, as it runs in families. They may be more compliant than your first born but if you get the result that he's gifted then the others will need understanding in their possible giftedness too.
Welcome to the forum, you have found a good place to share with others in similar situations. One step at a time, it's a long journey.
Thanks so much for all of that information. I ordered the two books that you mentioned last night after I read your post (I used Book Depository - free shipping to NZ!).
I'm looking at starting gluten free over the next few days. Do you stick to it obsessively like the celiacs need to - e.g. different toasters for gluten and gluten-free bread, only oats that aren't processed on the same lines as gluten foods etc?
It sounds like you've had a much harder time than me, but I fear that we are on a downward spiral so need to deal with the issues now.
And yes re: other children - Mr 5 has a reading age of about 14 at a guess (I just haven't been in to testing for these things, but he reads and comprehends anything that interests him) and Mr 4 just had his B4 school check where they commented on his astonishing attention to detail and wished me luck keeping him out of school for the next 10 months. The difference with them though is that they can keep still, they can concentrate, and they can (usually) see reason.
I really appreciate your post. THanks so much for taking the time.
I haven't bothered with assessment, although I am 99% sure that my son is gifted. I couldn't see how having the label would help us in day to day terms, if that makes sense. We have gone though CAMHS and Jigsaw to try to deal directly with the behavior. The Jigsaw lady seems very good and has come to my house to talk with just me to get a feel for him, and on her next visit she will meet DS and she is going to start some social stories for issues like refusal to wear new clothes, prep for school (he is 4.5) etc. As far as tantrums go, hopefully we can sort out something because far out, it is draining!
We have also gone low sugar which I think has helped. I hadn't heard of gluten free for these issues, might read up on it.
Like you both I have two younger children and I hate that they witnessing him screaming and yelling all the time. The 2.5 year old has started copying the tantrums and says the exact same things that DS does which is infuriating! Thankfully she does calm down after a small time out, unlike DS.
So glad to help. It is such a relief when others have been through it and share what worked for them. Those books will be very worthwhile, good for you for getting onto it fast.
As for the gluten, trace amounts of gluten seem to be fine, but a small bite of gluten at a party or grandparents house will set him off for three days. It helps if relatives and friends stick to it too. I give him gluten free party food and cake to take along. I tell people he has a behavioral allergy to gluten. Now if he sees something with gluten he will pull back and say he doesn't want to be angry. Oats are iffy, I avoid all oats as I get stomach pains (gluten symptom) myself from them and popcorn too, strangely. Also, gelatin puts me and DS into that angry state, so I avoid marshmellows and jelly-like treats etc. Cadbury flake seems to be the only chocolate I can eat and remain happy, (haven't tried DS on it yet) chip flavouring is wheat based so choose plain everything and rice crackers or rice cakes are good bread substitute for lunches as GF bread can be pricey. There is a milo substitute that is quite nice from health shops. Here are some GF websites that may help.
GF WORKSHOP http://www.glutenfreemadeeasy.co.nz
Also, for people living in Auckland there is a retired chef and hotel manager couple living in Pukekohe advertising a GF made easy workshop with new recipes, conversion of your favourite old recipe info and novel ideas and tips on food bearing gardens and finding retailers who sell ingredients at the right price. The workshops run for 5 hours on some Saturdays. Click on link above or ph. 021 395 593. (I just copied this straight from the paper and intend to book a place for myself soon, so will let you know how it goes. $95)
Also, I can understand people who don't want labels put on their kids. In our case, the label of gifted helped halt other labels of ADD and ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) and because it is a registered special need it must be supported and every effort made to integrate the child into normal school life, plus the gifted label is more positive than the label of "bully" "class clown" "disruptive" or "the naughtiest kid in class". Kids get labeled anyway, it's just a matter of which one parents prefer. For my younger two, the gifted label is unnecessary as they could coast through school with out raising an eyebrow as they are dutiful, helpful, happy and co-operative. What teacher is going to mind that? The only problem would be purposeful underachievement. In that case the gifted label may help the teacher to challenge them more and expect more of them. Personal decision either way.
Went to the GP today who said he has no doubt that Mr 7 is gifted... it was actually an astonishing relief to hear even though I have historically been very anti the "G" word. I left with strict instructions to embrace his giftedness and a referral to a specialist for more advice on how to proceed. I was surprised at the weight that I felt lift off my shoulders. I expect we're at the beginning of a very long road - our school is not renowned for embracing giftedness, so we're going to have to think long and hard about how to address things at school. But we'll cross that road once we've spoken to the specialist/psych.
I made my first GF biscuits last night - fairly adept at adapting recipes since Mr 7 has had an egg allergy that we identified when he was solely breastfed. They taste ok. I've also started him on Omega 3 which I've been reading about on this forum, so fingers crossed. Thankfully he's not fussy at all 'cos those Omega 3 things smell disgusting! I'm not game enough to taste them!
Anyhow - it's been a long couple of weeks for me coming to this point and I thank everyone on this forum (not just within this post topic) for all the help they've given me whether they know it or not. What a great place to visit!
Just wanted to thank those of you who sent messages to me a month or 2 back in regards to gluten free. Both my gifted children, and myself, are now completely gluten free - and what a difference it has made!! Especially to my daughter who is 2E! She is so much calmer! Thanks!
Another thank you here for all the help and support. We started on GF but the paediatrician recommended we go back on to do a celiac blood test , so we will try GF again after this weekend.
I have read the book recommended to me by one of you in an email - Living With Intensity- and it has opened my eyes to a lot of interesting things. As I read the chapter on psychomotor over excitability I felt as if I was reading a direct observation of my son... And the chapter on perfectionism has given me some fairly interesting insights as far as my own personality / behaviour is concerned.
I am currently at the ed. psych's office with my son having his second session (I'm actually downstairs having a coffee while he's in there!). This morning he slept until 7am for the first time I can remember - certainly for the first time this year - and I can only put it down to the hour and a half of using his brain in the session of testing with the ed. psych yesterday.
For us it's the beginning, but I really would like to thank everyone both on this thread and the others I have read for all of your support. It has helped me get to a place where I feel hopeful we can get to a great place.
The test for gluten seems to be very black and white. If you test over 20 then you are celiac and if it's under that then you haven't got a problem. This was illustrated to the detriment of an acquaintance's wee baby who tested at 10. He was in hospital every three weeks for the first three years of his life, vomiting, minimal growth and weight gain, was severely malnourished and by age three was sickly and weak, unable to play through lack of energy. The doctors tried everything and came up with a diagnosis of undefined malnourishment. At three years old against doctor's advice, the parents took him off gluten. The vomiting stopped, he put weight on, began growing and had energy to play. He is five now and only slightly shorter than other kids his age. His father's tests showed 15, but when he came off gluten his chronic migraines, constant stomach cramps and leg pains stopped. He calls himself celiac and adheres to their rigid diet even though his test isn't high enough to be clinically diagnosed as celiac.
So I guess what I'm trying to say, is that, whatever the official diagnosis, GF it's worth a try to see what works for your family. Gluten is a protein found in wheat. I found the following excerpt online: "Wheat is a good source of carbohydrate, some protein and nutrients including iron, manganese, tryptophan and magnesium. However the levels of nutrients we get in most wheat products are very minimal, if at all present. This is because of the processing that the wheat goes through. To obtain the full amounts of nutrients present in the wheat grain, it is best to eat it as unprocessed as possible. But then when you do eat whole grains, you do need to chew the grain, processing it in your mouth to get the optimal benefits." There are many ways of getting the goodness of grains, eg. buckwheat, millet etc. Wheat is the cheapest and so, mass produced.
There is an expo on in Auckland and Christchurch about GF and food allergies in general. Would be worthwhile going to. Check out this website.
The "Living with Intensity" book is great. I learned a lot about myself too, most surprisingly that everybody didn't feel as deeply as me, or over think things as I do or engage their imagination to the extent and regularity that I thought was normal. What a relief to understand that is the reason I always felt so different, how freeing that my difference is positive and something I love and would never want to be without or squash in the hope of "fitting in". How timely that I can show my children how beautiful their "differences" are. How lucky we are to connect with others on this forum who understand.
I hope your son's testing went well, great about the sleeping through. One day school will keep his mind active if you are using the test results to get him in there. All the best.
Regarding Gluten and challenging behavior; Gluten in the process of being digested is broken down into a molecule named gluteomorphin. If a child has leaky gut the proteins can get through the gut wall into the blood stream and into the brain, so the theory goes. Gluteomorphin is structurally similar to opiates and is addictive and can disrupt behavior/thinking processes. A1 casein from most cows milk unless it is A2 cows milk ( goats milk is also A2) gets broken down into a similar molecule called casomorphin and can create the same problems. Those who find a real improvement removing gluten from the diet may find an even greater improvement removing casein. We did! In our eldest son's case the problem is related to a deficiency in the production of the DPP-iv enzyme which digests gluten and casein properly. We now successfully use Dr Houstons digestive enzymes which we buy from Mandimart online. My eldest son can eat gluten and casein again. Yay! My youngest son cannot have A1 casein even with enzymes. He seems to have an immune reaction that also effects his behavior big time. Hope this might be helpful to someone.
Sorry I didn't notice the person who started this thread is called Kate. I posted the above about gluteomorphin and I'm not the Kate who started the thread. sorry for any confusion. I think I'll have to rename myself.
I am very interested in your comments about Casein, as my son has been Gluten free for 4 years because of behavioural issues. When he first went Gluten Free it made a huge difference and if he inadvertently was given Gluten he would become aggressive, angry and then distressed over a period of days, not very pleasant fot the family. He still can be a bit of a wild child so I am wondering about the Casein and prehaps I should try eliminating that from his diet as well. Is it in just milk or all dairy products? It seems from your message that the digestive enzymes works for one of your children but not the other. I am thinking maybe I should give it a go. You end up trying everything to help your child and hopefully find the crux of the problem but this can take years of course.