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My Child Has Had Severe Rage But Only At School

by Anonymous

I have an 11 yr old son who was a wonderful baby. Very easy going, happy, loving and content. Around 2 1/2 years old he started to show signs of rage at his babysitter's house. Note that he was still not talking at this point.

We have experienced it in our home just a handful of times and the last time we experienced it was about 2 to 3 years ago. At school it continues to happen about 3 times per week. He is slightly cognitively impaired and has expressive and receptive speech delays. He goes to a therapeutic school and has been in an EI classroom since first grade.

His kindergarten year was very traumatic with a horrible teacher and a principal who didn't believe there was a disability there, only thinking he was a brat. He is on a number of meds - depakote, zoloft, lithium, concerta, and seroquel but continues to have fits of rage at school. He will get destructive, aggressive and verbally abusive. We see therapists and psychiatrists who continue to diagnose bi-polar and anxiety and depression, but since being on the meds we cannot figure out the continuation of the fits of rage.

Any ideas? We know he will do anything to avoid doing school work and to be sent home. However, once home he is calm and will complete all the school work that we have sent home for him to complete.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I will share some ideas with you, and I hope you find them helpful. Keep in mind that I have very limited information here, so if anything I offer doesn't seem to fit, just disregard it.

This is what comes to mind as I read your submission:

1) There is nothing wrong with your son. He is unique in how he processes emotion and how he learns, and the world often sees uniqueness as a disability or maladaptive pattern. This of course can create a lot of problems.
2) It sounds like he has experienced most of his trauma away from home. The kindergarten experience sounds especially traumatic.
3) It is great that he is able to be calm and focused when he's at home. You might want to consider home schooling as an option, until he stabilizes.
4) My theory (only a theory) about why the medication is not working is this: his problem was not biochemical in origin. His problem is/was that he has not been honored and encouraged as the totally unique child he is. I'm guessing you're better at this than the schools are, which is understandable. You might consider talking to your doctor about reducing or eliminating the medication since it doesn't seem to be working. You are the authority in this, by the way, not the doctor.
5) In the privacy of your own thoughts (and prayers if you pray), see your son healthy, vibrant, adapting well and shining as the beautifully unique child that he is. Look for ways to meet up with him where his greatest interests are, and support his development in that direction.

Believe in your son, and believe in yourself. Don't ever let anything get in the way of that, no matter what happens. Focus on his strengths and good qualities and work to build on those in any way you can. I suggest you start each day with a positive journaling session, focusing on the good things about yourself and your son and the rest of your world.

And spend one on one time with him, doing things he likes to do. He might just start telling you his story, through actions and non verbal behavior. If your husband is on board with this, ask him to do the same thing.

Expect things to get better.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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