Oppositional Defiant Disorder aka ODD
What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder or commonly known as ODD?
As defined by the Mayo Clinic here:
All children, even the best behaved ones can act out at times. ODD is not just about children acting out or rebelling. Children or teenagers with ODD have patterns of temper, acting out towards authority, auguring, vindictiveness towards parents and other authority figures. Often times family doctors, pediatricians, teachers, parents, and other key people in your childs life. A lot of people will think they are suffering from ADHD. Sometimes ODD can look a lot like ADHD, but it in actually a completely different diagnosis.
I have a daughter who struggles with ODD. She is a beautiful, sweet, kind, smart person. We have struggled so much with hardships and I did not feel like there was any support or very many resources out there to help us. Hence, my blog page about ODD. I hope to help children and family members with some of our experiences so maybe you don’t have quite as much frustration, tears, and heartache as my family did. My perspective is from my thoughts and feelings only and to give you the best resources I can while respecting my daughters story to the best of my ability. As I feel strongly her story is her’s to tell, no one elses.
Here is a great resources from
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Very Well Minded
Starting out as early as preschool, I began to notice some overly defiant behavior in my daughter. At preschool I was getting a lot of feedback about her behavior and that she was difficult to control. I was always told she plays well with other kids but that she was really acting out at times and was difficult at times to get to follow direction. She was determined to do as she wanted. At home I didn’t feel like there was an issue beyond a typically preschool age child who liked to test her boundaries. I practiced time out regularly when I felt like she was pushing her testing a bit to far. Other than that she was like any other high energy kid. She loved to play, hated going to bed, dinner was always a challenge because she was never wanted to sit long enough to actually eat a nutritious meal. She has always been really busy. (Sounds pretty typical right?) So long and short of it is, after hearing from her preschool teacher, I would sit her down and talk to her about respect and following directions. And do my best to give an appropriate consequence for her poor behavior at school. Which usually looked like a time out when we got home to thing about what we talked about and what she could do differently next time.
When we got to Kindergarten I heard a lot of the same as what the pre-school teachers had been telling me, except it was getting worse. During lunch the absolutely could not get my daughter to sit and eat her lunch. It was to the point the quit trying, it was that bad. Also, her music teacher said she was struggling with her as well. BUT her Kindergarten teacher did not seem to have any problems with her outside of typical Kindergarten behavior. So of course my first question was why is her behavior different in class than during lunch and music? Was the her Kindergarten teacher more experience working with children her age? Was she stricter? Less strict? Why was there such a big difference in her behavior? What I learned was her music teacher was a new teacher and beyond that I really didn’t get to much information.
When we got to first grade and we had our first teacher parent conference, I left feeling like an absolute failure of a mother. Her first grade teacher explained to me, she was having problems with my daughter picking up after herself and more that than her desk was messy and the mess was spreading to the area around her desk. She was frustrated with my daughter and wanted me to speak with her about her behavior. Here is another link about ODD children in the classroom :
if you have read the article linked above you can easily see some of the challenges teacher have. I felt terrible, I felt like my daughter was disrupting the class and the behavior could not go on. As a mom of two I was beginning to see a big difference in my children’s class room behavior. I felt like we needed a change in something because I could not allow my daughter to be disruptive to the other children and teacher in the class. I spent a lot of time talking to my daughter again about respect and boundaries. I also put a reward system as well as expected consequences depending on how things were going at school. Nothing big, just if you do well respecting boundaries for a week we will go get a treat. But if there is a lot of disruption for a week we won’t get that treat and you will probably miss out on a fun activity. I could see my daughter really trying but still struggling. It was breaking my heart.
We started second grade out great but things declined quickly. It seemed her second grade teacher was struggling more with her that her first grade teacher. I was at my wits end, I could not figure out what was going on. I would see some of the behaviors at home that they were speaking about at school but not nearly to the degree her teachers were talking about. I was really beginning to freak out quite honestly. It got to the point when I picked her up from school I hated even seeing her teacher because I afraid what she was going to tell me happened that day. It was terrible and was causing a lot of anxiety in me.
When third grade came, I decided to switch schools. I felt like we needed a big change, so I transfer her to a small private christian school. And we saw a huge improvement, to say I sighed a big breath of relief was an understatement. I was so relieved. We had a few hick ups but overall things were going great! And she was really loving school and her teacher, it was a breath of fresh air for this anxiety filled mom.
Fourth grade was much of the same as third grade. My daughter was doing well and for the most part enjoying school.
Fifth grade started out with a bang, she was so excited to start school. It was wonderful, I had not seen her excited for a first day of school since Kindergarten! I was excited about another great year as well. Well….. about four or five weeks into fifth grade the excitement came to a screeching halt. Her teacher told me, she was not doing well taking direction and she was very argumentative which was causing a lot of disruption. Another five or six weeks in and it was getting worse, she was doing everything she possibly could to get out of class and once again I was hearing about her messy desk and the area around her on the floor. She told me about four or five weeks into the school year, she separated her to the back of the room and off by herself. Which without being there everyday observing what was going on appeared to make everything a lot worse. As the year progressed things continued to get worse. She has a PE teacher who could not get her to take direction and instruction so she was literally getting kicked out of her PE class everyday. Again, I was at my wits end. I could not figure out for the life of me, what was making everything so bad again and why at certain times it was so much worse than at other times. I just knew in my heart something was really wrong. But I had no idea what to do to fix it. I so badly wanted to help my child, she was so frustrated and struggling so much. I felt like the world’s worst mother, like I had absolutely failed her and I must not have a good parenting bone in my body. I was doing my best to keep everything together, stay calm, and not jump to conclusions. I learned her PE teacher had a military type approach, he was also an owner of a karate facility. He apprehended to be very structured and had high expectations for the kids. Which I am not necessarily saying is a bad thing, in fact I think expectations are great. We all need to know what is expected of us, I also love structure. I was doing my best to speak with my daughter about what was expected of her, and while she might not always like to do what a teacher is asking her to do, it is important to be respectful and do what she is asked. I also explained to her that she should be thinking of the other in her class, when she causes a big disruption everybody misses out on a part of what is being taught because the teacher needs to stop instructing for a time. Nothing was really getting better, AND THEN everything came to a screeching halt again when I got a call that my daughter was in chapel and basically interrupted the whole school during chapel because she got into a disagreement/argument with a teacher. To say I was mortified does not even describe what I was feeling. It was beyond shocking and honestly embarrassing. The next call I received was from an administrator who explained they did not feel like they had the tools to best serve my daughter and it would probably be better if she went back to public school. I did not know what to think but again to know something had to change, I just didn’t know what that something was. It felt like a complete failure of my ability to discipline my child correctly and know one had any answers for me as to what I could do differently. I was praying and reading and researching. I was at a complete loss.
My daughter had a lot of things going on in her life your fourth year of school so I got her going to counseling, which eventually turned into a psychiatric evaluation. I am so thankful for that evaluation. As a result of the evaluation I learned my daughter was diagnosed with severe ODD, anxiety, depression, and arrested development. I also learned that she had the IQ of a genius but with arrested development everyday life could be somewhat of a challenge for her. I had never heard of ODD up until that point, and that is where I learned that it looks a lot like ADHA but is definitely not. And that ADHA is often misdiagnosed and well as over diagnosised. I was told she does not have ADHA and was educated a little bit about ODD and that counseling was very important, I was told without counseling ODD can evolve into crime, drug use, and other negative behaviors. So we continued on the counseling and also started seeing a psychiatrist for the possible of medication. I hated the idea of putting my fifth grader on any type of medication but I was literally not sure of what to do or think.
I can honestly say Fifth grade was to date the worst year we have ever had.
At the start of sixth grade we were back at public school. And in our area sixth graders go to middle school. She really seemed to be enjoying sixth grade with the exception of just a few speed bumps here and there. It seemed to overall be going ok. I was told by the administration what Seventh grade might be tough for her because as a rule that is when a lot of challenges happen for kids. Then in eighth grade everything calms down again.
Well the administration was certainly right about seventh grade, it was a terrible year. My daughter was miserable, most days we hardly made it out of the school parking lot before she was in tears. She was struggling so much. One of the things I was beginning to figure out, was how she was viewed by her teachers and other administrators was a REALLY big deal to hear. If she felt like that did not like her or thought poorly of her it was going to be a disaster. No matter how much she and I talked about it, did not make a difference to her. She really needed to hear from them that they had confidence in her. It was heart breaking to me how much she needed and cared about another opinion of her. We once again decided to transfer out of the public school she was going to and we went to a much smaller school. Which was basically the same situation but just in a different place. Finally, the decision was made to home school. More on that later.
I have learned a few things throughout my journey. There is very little education and resources out there about ODD and how best to educate a child with ODD. And that needs to change. As we walked down and continue to walk down this path we have had so many struggles and heartache and I really feel like we have learned the hard way. I will talk more later about what home life looked like and how we have learned to not only cope but to thrive.
I hope to have teachers and administrators educated on ODD and what signs to look for in children who may possibly have it. So they may not only better educate themselves but also possibly let parents know about the possibility of seeking out a doctor, counselor, or psychiatric professional. I never once heard the term Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD until we had our evaluation. And now, understanding what it is. My daughter is text book ODD.
Children and teenagers with ODD don’t do well with extreme structure. Structure is not a bad thing but nothing extreme. Also, people with strong personalities you may find your ODD child struggles to get along with. Oppositional Defiant Disorder does not mean you don’t know how to disciple your child and it does it mean that you need to be stricter, sterner, etc. It means your child or teenager is dealing with a metal illness. Just like someone who deals with anxiety is not going to get better if you give the stressful situations. Its about understand your individual child and how they best can flourish, what helps them to best deal with what they are going through. About one third of children who have ODD will develop conduct behavior issues, the other two thirds will grow out of ODD in their late teens.