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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Dr K - desparate mom of teenage son - PLEASE help!


 zipee - Sat Sep 08, 2007 8:34 pm

Hi Please help if you can.

My son was born 1990. He showed balance, gait and co-ordination probs. He had a body tremor. I went to doctors and was fobbed away till he was 6yrs old. He couldn't bounce a ball so I put him in basketball. He couldn't run (looked desparately awkward) so I sent him to athletics, swimming, karate. God love him he hated sports but it definitely helped him develop.

He finally saw neurologist at 6yrs and he felt having done cat scan. ecg, etc that it was a benign familial tremor or maybe was caused by lack of oxygen at birth. Now I did have problems in labour so that is possible.

Anyway he tried medication propranonol/ inderal for tremor and it didn't really help and my son stopped using it at 14yrs.

I have always felt only half of his symptoms were ever looked at. He was always very intelligent. But desparately forgetful, disorganised, unmotivated. He would loose 3 or 4 coats in one school year. I always had to be incredibly organised to have him functionally organised. Always had strange thought lines..... and strange ways of acting out.

At 14 I told him he had to eat before he went out so he didn't want to and so without a word he lay on the floor of the kitchen, pulled up his hood and buttoned up his coat so you could only see his eyes. Without speaking one word he lay there for over 2 hours .... no teenage tantrum, That would be a normal reaction for him. Now I never entertained him and so would ignore this behaviour and leave him to it.

He has quite obsessive thinking patterns. Once he latches on to something === you may forget it. He seems to be very emotional undeveloped. He hates affection and has done since a young age. He hates to be touched and really doesn't allow it often.

At 17 yrs despite being very intelligent his grades are abissmal. I could never rule out suicide with him as his behaviour can be so extreme. I would never be shocked at what might happen with him or who might call to the door.

Have I failed miserably and missed some diagnosis for him? If there is something undiagnosed is there anything I can do now bearing in mind how unhelpful he would be at this stage?

Even if you can point me in the right direction I would be most appreciative. Even if I could just understand him it would help me deal with it.

Many many thanks in advance.

Desparate Mom
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:22 pm

User avatar Dear Zipee:

Did anyone ever mention cerebral palsy? With the balance, gait, and coordination problems, along with normal to above-average intelligence, emotional immaturity, that's just the first thing I thought of. The other things you mentioned, though, sound a lot like one of the attention deficit disorders, such as disorganization, losing things, and obsessive thinking. Actually the latter may actually be hyperfocus, which kids with attention problems can do with certain tasks, especially video games.

Don't feel like you've failed him. Plenty of people have been around him and they didn't see it either. It's time to move forward. If he does indeed have an attention problem, it's not too late to treat it.

What many people don't understand is that it is important to treat attention problems. There are medications, some are stimulants, some are not, and there are different ways of parenting these kids that helps them a great deal. The statistics show that kids with attention problems are more likely to have a car accident and also more likely to become involved in illegal drugs than others of the same age without attention problems.

Good luck to you and your son.
 lilonething - Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:53 pm

While I am not a doctor, I am someone who works daily with children who have Pervasive Developmental Disorder /Autism Spectrum Disorders. Having never met your son, I could never say that he likely has PDD, but I wonder if it has ever been looked at. Most of what you have described is completely typical for some of the wonderful and bright youngsters with Autism that I work with. It is almost every day that I find myself looking at a set of eyes peering out from a hoody, which is often on someone hiding under a table, or lying across some classroom chairs, refusing to sit up or speak.
Although the Autism Spectrum is wide and typical behaviours vary greatly, some extremely common ones include that intense focus on a subject...to the point of obsession, the intense dislike of touch (but interestingly, these same children often like hard touch, like deep massage or being wrapped up tightly in a blanket and night), inability to maintain eye contact, inability to form social bonds, and "stubbornness" or rigidity of thought, among other things. Often, if a child with PDD decides that 2+2=7, there might be little you could do to convince him otherwise if he was in an argumentative mood. 2+2 just has to equal 7 for a while, perhaps even for a few days, until the child is in a different mood regarding that particular subject. Unfortunately there is no magic recipe for success and it's a try and see approach to everything since every child is different. I have some ideas for strategies but I don't want you to try anything before speaking with the appropriate professionals so I won't go into that right now. What country are you in? I can give you an idea of who to contact for advice in Canada, but if you are elsewhere, maybe your doctor can help.

Good luck and let us know how things go.

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