Question about bipolar child

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SarahP
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1185
   Posted 3/18/2006 8:54 PM (GMT -7)   
My daughter is 11 and was diagnosed bipolar a year ago. She was diagnosed ADHD about 8 years ago informally and 3 years ago formally. Also diagnosed recently as ODD. Right now she takes no meds at all.
My question is how to do you get a child help at school for this? Her teacher is a ditz, totally pays no attention whatsoever to these childrens needs. ( I see this teacher at ballgames and scouts with her own kids, and wonder how she manages a classroom).
She does see a therapist a couple times a month, but basically only working on anger management right now. She has a very hard time with math, and with staying focused in the classroom. Home is not too bad, I can isolate her here and help her, but in school she gets no help for it.
Also, is there a symptom of bipolar that is "hurting yourself"? Not cutting or something drastic, but whenever she gets into "trouble" (which is fairly often), while I'm trying to discuss the behavior, she goes into fits which include hitting herself in the head or clawing at her throat, and talking about how "stupid" she is, and how "bad" her life is.
Now, I have never called her stupid, I don't verbally abuse her, I don't "attack" her when she's in trouble.. all I do is attempt to get her to "see" where she went wrong and what she could've done different. But she cannot seem to handle any type of criticism or lectures. If I send her to her room angry, she destroys things, slams doors, kicks...etc. If I stand her in a corner away from the family, she slams her head into the wall and rants. If I sit her in a chair at the table with nothing to do ( my favorite consequence for naughty kids, I have four) she cries and sobs about how horrid her life is.
And really, to me, there is nothing horrible about her life. She plays ball, she gets the same priviledges as the other children, she gets as much attention and fun time as they do. I am thinking this is a defensive mechanism on her part?
Really, I guess I don't know what I'm thinking. Seems like everything I read about bipolar is drugs, drugs, drugs. Is it possible to handle her mix of conditions without medications?
Sorry I rambled.. getting late here.
Sarah
I'm not procrastinating----I'm still doing yesterday!!!! 
I have no medical training, any medical opinions expressed in my posts are just that....opinions.


Ellie 1
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Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1291
   Posted 3/18/2006 9:17 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Sarah
You say she sees a therapist. Does she see a pdoc as well? Imho it seems in order. Self injury is not unheard of with bipolar disorder but it should not be allowed to continue. It may escalate.
As for getting no help at school. I would raise the roof. Most states have laws for getting kids with problems like these special classes with fewer students, so they are better able to focus. She may require a different teaching style to help her absorb information as well. It doesn't sound like the teacher she has now is much of a teacher at all.
I don't know about handling her condition without meds. I went med free for 15 years and very nearly destroyed my life. But I'm an adult and it may very well be different for children. I know I wasn't diagnosed until I was in my late 20's but I had a very very VERY difficult time as a teen. It's a shame I wasn't dx sooner.
Good luck to you and your daughter
You'll be in my prayers
Ellie
Good judgement comes from experience and alot of that comes from bad judgement.
 
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Kimber
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Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 1852
   Posted 3/20/2006 5:04 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Sarah,

I don't normally post here but I felt I needed to respond. My daughter, 15, was just diagnosed with bipolar. Her moods are all over the place, but lately she is in a severe depressive state. She sees a psychiatrist and a therapist that are trying to find a medication that will help stablize her. She is also one of those, unfortunately that self injures. It can be very unnerving to watch your child feel that her life is terrible when we as parents perceive it to be good. I had tried at first to talk to her teachers, but had much better results after speaking with her school counsellor and principal. I wish you luck and feel for what you are going through.

Kimber
dx: asthma, anxiety disorder, fibromylagia, suspected Lupus or RA
     Caregiver to hubby with PPMS
 
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JaxsMom
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/20/2006 10:46 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Sarah,
My bipolar kiddo is 11 and we have had a horrible time getting help from the school. He doesn't act out at school and his biggest problem is anxiety, that means they see him mostly as a shy child. His grades slide the first half of the year when his symptoms are on the depressive side and by the time we get the school to pay attention it is spring and he's on the manic side. You can find out alot of information concerning how to get help for your disabled child at starfishadvocacy. There are several sites available for support with bipolar children. I'm not sure about the rules here so i won't provide the sites until i find out! Also, we could not handle my son without his meds (he has been on them for two years). Many parents have stated that their children cannot learn proper behavior through therapy unless they are stable. Research is also showing that some mood stabilizers can actually repair the damage caused in the brain from the rages seen in bipolar disorder (look up kindling effect).
Good Luck!
Jax's Mom

Putter
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 204
   Posted 3/20/2006 12:13 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi Sarah, I was just reading your posts and my heart goes out to you. It certainly sounds like you folks have a challenging life. I was just thinking about your post asking if its viable to live with the BP without medication. I don't want to sound like a pill pusher, but it certainly sounds like you folks have tried everything else humanly manageable. I think that my BP became a problem in my mid-late teens, and I feel like I would have saved myself a world of heartache if I had gotten help sooner. I don't know about being a child and being BP, but thinking back to the awful things that go through your head with BP raging, it must be awfully frightening for her.

I guess that I would just offer my perspective as a stable individual on mediciation. I use depakote which is relatively well tolerated, but it has been able to knock out the highs and given me a life that i'm certain I wouldn't have otherwsie. It has levelled the playing field for me so that I can deal with all of the other challenges in life and not have BP ruling my little world. I don't suffer any notable side effects and I hate the thought of ever living without it. There are lots of options with modern medication and I believe, in reading through other posts and forums, you might find that gaining control of one condition, ie. the bipolar, it might make another condition more tolerable and manageable. So, yes I do take drugs, but I don't consider it to be any different than a diabetic using insulin.

Please know that our hearts go out to you and I sincerely hope that you will be able to find a treatment (therapy, lifestyle, etc) that works for your daughter and your family.


Take care,
Putter


putter@healingwell.net


tra
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 100
   Posted 3/20/2006 5:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Sarah, my 10 year old son has all three of these as well. We had some trouble with the schools in the very beginning. What I did was go over the teacher and meet with the principal and explained what my son was diagnosed with and that I wanted a behavior modification plan as well as an educational plan in place that he and the staff must follow. We did what is called a 501 here and we held an IEPC meeting to put everyones concerns into play. This worked really well for us and when he got into a position where the staff could no longer handle him the transition into a behavior modification program through the district was very smooth. He is thriving in this new program as he does so much better with smaller class sizes. Good luck and if I can be of any assistance at all please email me.

Tra

SarahP
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1185
   Posted 3/23/2006 7:56 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks so much for the replies. She really is a hard to handle child, but also a very caring, loving one. She is great with animals and wants to be a vet when she grows up. She is always better during softball season (thank goodness it just started), I guess the exercise is good for her.
We are trying to do med free for now b/c she is like me, extrememly sensitive to meds. My doc called me "not normal" today..lol. He gave me a prescription for low dose lortab for pain and said I could cut it in half, but not to drive b/c I wasn't normal and didn't react well to meds. Gee.. thanks doc..lol.
But it seems to be a theme here that med free is not a good thing for bipolar, so I may not be doing her any favors.
This school term is about over, and her last report card was B's and C's so I'm going to wait until the beginning of next school year and take her whole darn file from her therapist in. That will be her first year of middle school, and I'm very concerned about how she will handle it.
Thanks everyone!
Sarah
I'm not procrastinating----I'm still doing yesterday!!!! 
I have no medical training, any medical opinions expressed in my posts are just that....opinions.


hammilton
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 152
   Posted 3/23/2006 11:29 PM (GMT -7)   
Has she been on any psychiatric medication? Not to sound negative, but there is really no way to know how she would react to them without trying them. Hydrocodone is a relatively potent pain killer (2x morphine, if i remember). Lortab has 7.5mg of it, the standard vicodin just 5. Reaction to narcotics though is a terrible way to think of medication sensitivity however, since tolerance is an automatic factor. The first time a doctor put me on vicodin (5mg hydro, 500 apap), I would sleep for hours. Today, though, after months of opioid treatment I have been taking 20mg of methadone (more potent than vicodin, by most equivalancies), 3 times a day. That same dose would kill anyone who hadn't *earned* a tolerance the way i got to. heh.

While she is your child, and medications are still your choice, an un-medicated bipolar guaranteed a life of potentially life-ending depression followed by reckless behaviour after reckless behaviour that comes with mania- not to mention the costs of hospitalization and the damage that it can do to simple things- like a credit score. Every day that a person with bipolar isn't medicated does literal damage to the brain making the disorder potentially worse.

SarahP
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1185
   Posted 3/24/2006 8:27 AM (GMT -7)   
Well, she took Adderall two times, once in second grade and it was horrid then, she lost eight pounds (which she couldnt' afford too), and wouldn't even color a picture, it was like it zapped all her creativity right out of her. Then tried again in fourth grade and it went better with the side effects and her handwriting improved along with her grades, but mood swings got worse. A therapy center that she was going to at the time said under no circumstances should a bipolar child take an ADHD med without a mood stabilizer, so they took her off the Adderall and put her on Abilify. We did that one for two weeks, and saw a bit of difference in her mood, but had an episode on a softball field. She almost collapsed, and wasn't even able to swing the bat at the ball.. she'd just stand there and kind of take a slow swing after the ball was passed ( she's normallly their power hitter, nails it out in left field every time). I watched her for a couple days and thought back, and noticed that this med made her reaction time waaaaay slow. Which affected her school work since she couldn't think fast enough to complete work in class or tests. And she was only on half a normal starting dose. So we took her off of it, and that therapy center said "well we'll try this one, and then if it doesnt' work, theres a couple more...." and I told them to stuff it and went elsewhere. She goes to a new center and they are more therapy than med based. They do have a doc on staff, but it takes forever to get a med referel for her. But I will type everything I've learned here up and discuss this with her therapist next visit.
She's in a manic mode now.. wonder if it would help to video tape her and show her therapist EXACTLY how she is? She even gets this red flush across her face when she gets "up".. is that normal?
Thanks Hammilton.
Sarah
I'm not procrastinating----I'm still doing yesterday!!!! 
I have no medical training, any medical opinions expressed in my posts are just that....opinions.

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