This article is based on my personal experiences with my daughter, this is not a medical opinion. If you are concerned about yours or your children’s mental health, please speak to your GP or healthcare professional.
As I write this, I am sat in bed with tears welled up in my eyes. Today, my heart feels heavier than it did yesterday. Today, we finally had Anna’s appointment with a paediatrician to get a diagnosis regarding her behaviour.
After waiting months to see someone, trying to navigate and minimise and adapt to my 6 year old daughters internal crisis, the moment finally came. I had built this day up in my mind: this was going to be the first day of our journey, the first day towards healing my little girl, the first day of an easier life. I was sure that this appointment would be the starting point of therapy, medication, parent training… this was going to make both of our lives better.
I was almost speechless as I paid the $390 fee after our 45 minute consultation. The appointment had been productive to an extent: we talked about our concerns, the doctor asked both Anna and us a few questions, he did a quick physical on Anna and that’s about it. I left with a piece of paper that has some strategies for coping and managing Oppositional Defiant Disorder, a survey for Anna’s teacher to fill out and an appointment in 6 weeks time.
I spent $390 to have what I already knew confirmed and I left with no helpful advice and no idea what to do next. I knew this would be a long and difficult journey but I thought we’d get some more insight or support. All we got was a “see how you go and we’ll catch up in 6 weeks to take it from there”. It’s almost soul crushing, considering we’ve spent months trying to keep Anna’s mental health at bay waiting for this appointment.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is the holy grail of conditions in children. The words ‘oppositional’ and ‘defiant’ are key and when you are talking about a young child, these are very trying qualities for a parent to encounter and they occur everyday, multiple times a day.
Behaviours can vary depending on the child but the main traits involved are:
1. Arguing with adults and/or authority figures.
2. Deliberately disobeying and/or breaking rules.
3. Regular and unreasonable irritability and an anger.
4. Thinks what they are being asked to do is “unfair”.
5. Refusing to comply with tasks that have been asked of them.
6. Always blames others for their mistakes or actions.
7. Purposely annoys or harasses, sometimes for attention and other times without reason or cause.
These are very difficult qualities for a young child, in our case a 6 year old girl, to possess. Managing ODD behaviour involves a lot of minimising the risks and patience from a parental perspective. I have done a lot of research and reading only to come to the conclusion that ODD is a long road with no cure or answers… a little disheartening, I must say. In saying that, I will continue to wake up and greet my daughter with a fresh smile and a fresh set of eyes everyday. I’m just anxious about the road we have ahead of us…