I am not going to go to great lengths about what ODD is, there are plenty of psychology websites and professionals who can provide information about this with much greater expertise. In brief, a child must exhibit four of the following characteristics in order to be diagnosed:
- They frequently lose their temper – oh yes, all the time, Oscar style, visualise the scene from Platoon, Death of Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) on my kitchen floor several times a day. Just without the bullets. And the blood. And the helicopter.
- Often argues with adults -YES, every day, about everything – I’m surprised that she doesn’t argue with herself in the mirror. Her all-time favourite phrase is “No, it’s not!” (closely followed by “You idiot”, “I hate you” and “You’re so annoying”).
- Frequently defies and refuses to comply with adult’s rules and requests – I could write a book on this one. The husband and I celebrate when she does anything without a full scale argument
- They are frequently touchy and easily annoyed by others – just keep reading my blog and you’ll see plenty of this. Plus see above favourite phrases
- Frequently angry and resentful – this one gets a big tick too
- Spiteful and vindictive – unfortunately another yes
So Mayhem scores a whopping six out of six, with only four needed for that ODD flag to be raised. You’re probably thinking that most toddlers and children conform to the above characteristics at some stages in their lives, but the problem is the frequency. Most children behave and comply a good proportion of the time and whilst they do display unwanted behaviours, they can be punished and the behaviours moderated. Miss Mayhem is often utterly charming, delightful, loving and funny (the perfect child), but the majority of the time she fights with us, she is abusive, she is driven by the compulsion to control everything and goes into full raging meltdown when things aren’t done her way. We essentially share our home with a young Jekyll and Hyde, the proportion of which one we get is largely dependant on how carefully we tread when the giant pendulum of her mood swing is in full force.
Her assessment with an expert from a government funded charity organisation (dealing with ADHD, ADD and ODD), came back with such a high score that she was assessed as high risk CD (Conduct Disorder). The assessment was made by interviewing us with rigorous sets of questionnaires and an observation at home.
We were offered coaching by two experts at home for three months. We could not be more grateful, we were at breaking point. Our coaching only lasted two months because we learned the strategies quickly. Turns out that we weren’t quite the rubbish parents they were expecting and we were already using some of the strategies, gained from all the reading matter I had absorbed in relation to ODD in the year since the ADOS psychologist had suggested it (a brief discussion relating to this on About this Blog).
In my next post I will cover the strategies we were taught to tackle the ODD behaviours and why I don’t believe Miss Mayhem has ODD.