Getting Help for a Child with a Behavior Disorder

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My son is in the 10th grade. He has a behavior disorder and he can’t control himself at times. The school does not understand when he gets agitated and angry. They just suspend him and deprive him of his education.

You say your son has a behavior disorder. Many kids with learning disabilities develop behavior problems. If the school doesn’t teach them the skills they need, they become angry, frustrated, and depressed. Then the school labels them as “behavior disordered” or “emotionally disturbed.”

  • Is he under the care of a mental health professional?

If not, he needs this right away.

By suspending him repeatedly, the school is putting him at high risk for dropping out.

  • Does he have an IEP?

If yes, what services is the school supposed to provide? Are they providing these services?

  • If he doesn’t have an IEP, you should get an evaluation by an independent evaluator.

The evaluator will determine what his needs are and what type of educational program he needs. The evaluator can help advocate for him with the school. A mental health person can also help you learn how to advocate for him.

At this point, you have educators who have little or no training in mental health and behavioral problems dealing with him, mainly by suspending him (which isn’t a punishment for many kids).

  • Is he under the care of a child psychiatrist?

If not, that’s your first step. You also need to get a comprehensive evaluation to find out what is going on with him, why he can’t control himself, and how to help him get himself under control. The child psychiatrist should be able to recommend a good child or neuro-psychologist.

Bottom line: You can’t tackle these problems successfully unless or until you have good diagnostic testing and data.

You’ll find more information and resources on Behavior Problems and Discipline at

  1. I am raising a child with reactive attachment disorder…so my life is hell and I’m starting to really resent this child yet I love him and don’t want to give up.I don’t know anyone else dealing with reactive attachment..therefore no one understands or believers what I’m going through

  2. I have a 10 year old daughter. It was just me and her until she was 6. At age 8, my boyfriend (a wonderful man) moved in, he suffered a brain aneurysm and passed, and last January I was blessed with a baby boy. I understand my daughter has been through a lot. It was tough on both of us. Now she fights with me all day, every day for everything. She lies, she steals, she hits me, she has 0% respect for me and I don’t know what to do. She was never like this. Please give me advice. She is in equine therapy.

  3. I have an 8 year old grandson who has just recently been diagnosed with aspergus disease he is having a lot of behavioral issues in school and keeps getting suspened I want to be able to help him and to nderstand this diesaese he is seeing a mental health counselor but I feel like the school he is in is very frustrated wit him and as a granndmother I don’t know how to help the school understand not all his behavior can be helped. I feel as I have no say in any matter and I’m afraid he is falling thru the cracks of the school system I’ve tried to talk to his parents to please talk to the school or at least allow his counselor the permission to talk to them but feel like I’m just butting heads with them as well. I want to see my grandson succed in life any sugestions would be helpful.

    • Kim..Im dealing with my ‘child’ falling through the cracks as well at his school…they justify and minimize his behaviors..cutting other students with scissors, himself, exposing himself..its hard because they aren’t helpimg him.they are ruling out aspergers for him..he has reactive attachment disorder..its by far one of the hardest diagnosis..and one that is deceiving to anyone outside the home…therefore it almost looks as if I’m ‘dramatizing’ his reported behaviors..i also want to ‘fix’Jayden to give him normalcy which he didn’t have for first five yuears of his life..that were most crucial years. I feel hopeless that I cannot get ‘educaters’ on board with me

      • I want to say I am a parent and an educator. I know from the outside it may look like the education system is failing but in some instances we are required to follow laws set forth by state and federal levels. If a child is harming other children, even with a diagnosed disability, the school has to adhere to the discipline policy implemented. This is due to the safety of all the children and staff.
        On the other side, I have advocated for children that aren’t my own and felt the frustration as well, even though I know the protocol doesn’t make it any easier. As far as an IEP my state requires that children go through a TIER process of interventions with documentation and I find the child doesn’t show progress testing is referred. If you want more information please respond and I’ll help.

        • What if your child has been through the steps already and finally In fifth grade the child gives up and behavior impedes learning from lack of enjoyable learning and failure to have an identified learning disability but middle school denies prior knowledge and delays each step and now my son has been in school a week maybe, but now is so depressed from the physical and mental abuse brought from peers,teachers,principal and police, I dont know what to do next

          • Without knowing all that has been done, you could either look into online schooling or homeschooling OR obtain an advocacy attorney and have them help you. I wish you the best and keep advocating for your son. Request to see paperwork on what steps they are doing and ask for a policy on their IEP process and Personalized education plan or whatever your school system calls the steps and interventions prior to an IEP. Has your pediatrician administered any testing or have you sought counseling? I’m asking because, again without more details, it sounds as though your son may suffer from Oppositional defiance disorder. In any case keep advocating for your son. And be open to accepting that he may be doing what they have said has happened in school but ask what you can do as a team.

          • Im trying and that has now gotten me two cps allegation assessments and a severely depressed adolescent with nowhere to turn, it gets ugly if u dont backdown

  4. I have a son with autium/ADHD he was diagnosed in a TX district. at the age of three I moved to another Texas district, they decided to test my son again for autium. I disagree. Was stressed out and frustrated because my opinion didn’t matter to the second district.
    I feel that they tested him again for school rating. he was not up for his three years evaluation(ARK)but they did it anyways. I strongly disagree – was under a lot of pressure behind this. They dismissed his case, took son out of special education and threw him off the school bus cause he was no longer eligible. I need help.

    • its hard to hear any diagnosis. so when you get one you don’t agree with its harder. has he been seen by psychologist?? I’m sorry for all of us going through this with our children..we are strong.

  5. Found this info very informative for myself. I too have a 16 year old who has been placed in the 10th and still take some 9th grade classes. This has been hard for me since 1st grade and I only manage to get very very little help and not only am I depressed I myself also have anxiety issues. Any info or advice at this point is very helpful.

  6. My nephew has sensory processing disorder and ptsd. we had his iep done and a program set up. his school that he attends has suspended him 5 times since school started. I am trying to find any info on his rights for a child that has his disabilities. we live in nys. can anyone help?

  7. Thank you everyone for you share. I thought I was alone. My 11 year old son is so inappropriate w/ siblings, other children and all others,, absolutely lazy, so impatient, has hardly any friends, trows fits on the ground, lies, steals, calls me names, puts his hand up to hit me and pushes me, get horrible grades, gives me the finger and says I’m white trash, teaches his brother to be crude at 6 year old, and has scared most of my friends away. I really thought he was just badly behaved, but I now realize that he must have a mental illness. His father is bipolar and mental illness runs in my family. Im just so sad because I feel like I did this… I used to spoil him with everything until met my husband and had two more children. I have to get him some help fast. God help me!

  8. My son is 12 and just recently suspended from school and has been misbehaving at home and disrespecting his mom by yelling at her calling her mean names and we don’t know where to start on talking to him to get to the bottom of this we are all out of idea’s. Thank you very much

  9. I have a 7 year old. He was diagnosed with ADD at the end of his kindergarten year. He started meds and had a decent year for first grade and at the end of the year started having behaviors. Now we are to 2nd grade two weeks in and the behaviors are there. His meds were increased. He does have an IEP and is what they call a kinestetic learner. I want him to succeed and he gets so angry in the classroom and gets up walking around and just refusing to do work. I don’t know what else to do.

  10. Hi, I just skimmed the website but had to share that my son is diagnosed with highfunctioning autism. As we know, this causes his brain to work differently, considering behaviors and how he learns. It was his third day of preschool and there was an unannounced fire alarm, which I was warned about since I teach second grade at the same school. My son has sensory issues so the loud noise and unpredictability of the alarm caused his day to “be off”. I taught kinder for several years prior and we have had kids screaming, not crying, an entire week or more. On the day of the alarm, I received compliments about how well he had been behaving in the hallway going to lunch. However, I am told, on this third day of the fire drill, that he needs to be in a DDPre classroom for behavior.

  11. My son and daughter went to an out of zone, but same district, school for 2 years. They finally did an IEP for him and her this past May of 2016. The IEP says he’s significantly improved this year. They gave him hugs and told him and myself, mother, how great he’s done throughout the year. Well filled paperwork out for them to attend again for this 3rd year. I received a letter saying it’s been denied. I found out through the school board that the school denied my son for behavior, saying “no return for behavior.” My son said,” I thought was doing better?” I told him he was. He was not suspended at all this past year. Not like he did 2 years ago at his zoned school, which is still in the same district. The school board goes by zip code. I volunteer daily at this school.

  12. Here’s the bottom line. Some kids are “bad” and can’t be fixed. I have a nephew who has been suspended over 20 times for fighting, disruption, bullying, cursing the teacher, etc. He will punch a kid in the middle of class just because he thinks its funny. He has no problem taking a swipe at a teacher either. Oh, he doesn’t need an audience either, he will corner another child in private to terrorize him or her. Then lie about it. In fact, he lies about everything. He has physically attacked his mother, father, and other relatives. He has been “evaluated” by psychologists and a psychiatrist. He has been medicated and medication free. He has been placed in alternative education and even reform school. He plays the “professionals” for fools. There is no help for this boy.

  13. I have a daughter who is 6. We have had behavior problems with her since she was 3. She is fine until she doesn’t get her way. She refuses to not get her way and throws huge screaming fits until she gets what she wants. This is the way she is at home and at school. She is on her 3rd school and is about to get kicked out of there too as she is disrupting the rest of the class. We walk on eggshells around her so she doesn’t explode and terrorize my other 2 children. Yesterday I was called by her teacher to get her evaluated. I have tried for 3 months to find a therapist to see her through our insurance company and no one calls back. I have literally called over 20 therapists with no luck. I am so stressed out and don’t know what to do.

    • NAMI is in your area, or go online to website to check out their materials. My daughter is doing so much better since I joined this free support for families with mental illness. This is a disease, not a behavior problem, in most instances. The resources within the NAMI community will help you find help for you and your daughter. There are free support group meetings and classes. Be strong and educate yourself, then fight back against this system that has yet to embrace these devastating diseases!!

  14. I have 3 children, 2 boys 1 girl ages 16,12,10. they all have problems such as add, ADHD, bipolar, PTSD, dandy-walker. my problem isn’t with schooling they’re good at school. it’s at home. they all 3 gang up on each other and it’s like world war 3 in my home everyday. they punch, hit, throw things at each other. their dad is out on the road 5 days a week so he’s gone, but when he is home they’re angels. what am I to do?

  15. I have a 7 yr old son that is having behavior problems at school all this school year and it’s progressing worse all the time. He was diagnosed with an intellectual disability recently. He has an IEP and mental health program working with him including a behavior intervention specialist/ one on one. Everyday I get calls about his behavior being restrained or secluded at school. I have tried to talk to him and he either laughs at me, gets mad, or says the big kids at school said it or they’re being mean to him. My son swears really bad, gets aggressive or inappropriate behavior. I have taken him to two psychiatrists for behavior one evaluated him and said intellectual disabilities and the other said medication but no diagnosis. I think more posts s going on with him that is said. I’m use to a happy smiling all the time Iittle boy. I didn’t use to see this behavior at home but lately it has gotten more aggressive. I want to be able to help my son, he means the world to me. I want my son back, he’s like a total different little boy. Please help!!

    • Hi Stacy my 10 year old daughter has the same issues. I just had genetic testing/DNA done on her. She also has seen a neurologist for an EEG for seizures and I went back and they did reflex test on her and she has no reflex in the back of her feet which indicates something neurological is going on. I have gone through several doctors, and her behavior is so out of control every where. She is my world and has always has problems. She can not remember to spell her name at times. They have a chromosome that stops meds from working and also can have sensory dysfunction disorder. Our brains know how to separate information from what is important and what is not their brains get everything in one box.

  16. My daughter is 8 years and she is on meds and sees a psychiatrist. But lately here home behavior is worse and worse. It is just her and I in the home. Its either hot or cold with her, there is no inbetween. She is either hitting me with all heer might or loving me like there is never anything wrong. The hitting is getting worse and worse everyday, she is not a small eight year old, she is starting to leave bruises on me. Do any of you have any suggestions to help me out what to do next? Her behavior at school is not the best either. She gets suspended a lot but doesn’t qualify for an IEP. I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    • Push harder for an IEP. Ask your school if there are any other programs available for behavior issues. Did they do the assessment for the IEP and determine she had no special needs, or did they just discourage you from starting the IEP process? If you have not done the IEP process, put your IEP request in writing. By law they have to respond to it within a certain time limit if you have it in writing.

      • An IEP is exactly that, an individual education plan, that will not help with home behavior. Consistency, whatever the discipline is going to be it needs to be consistently done, that is what an IEP says a school must do.

  17. My son is eleven years old and he has seen a psychiatrist for behavior problems. They seem to find nothing to diagnose him with. The school said my son threatened a teacher and later the PRP worker told the principal that he threatened to kill everyone in the school. He had a hospital evaluation and they saw nothing. I do not know who to believe because my son says he didn’t say that, but the teacher and PRP worker said he did. I am lost in helping my son. Can anyone relate?

    • I had same problem with my son he got transported to mental facility for making a threat. The school does nothing to help him anymore. The plan he is on is not helping at all. He hates school.

  18. My daughter is in the end grade and she keeps getting suspended for 10days at a time and she’s not learning anything .I have had her evaluated for the IEP and they said she doesn’t qualify for one but yet she’s not learning and is constantly getting suspended. I have requested a IEE and I am going through this process now .In the meantime she is up for expulsion at 8yrs old.I don’t know what to do no child should be expelled at that age or grade .what am I to do she goes to counseling in school and out of school .The school system is failing my daughter .NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. Is Crap cause that’s exactly what they are doing .HELP

  19. What if the behavior is a result of neglect within the school system as we are dealing with? The school wants to blame our daughter and pin a behavioral plan on her and ignore the fact they have violated her educational rights ( which we have already proven with an investigation into the program). What do we do?

    • Chiara – I don’t think you understand your and your child’s rights. Parents have a responsibility to be the primary educators of their children. When you give your children’s education to state programs, all kinds of things go awry.

  20. I have a three year old son who is delayed, autistic, and no one can help me because of the simple face he is very young. I know he has them problem. He dont sleep, he is destructive, disrespectful, and i have tried everything i possibly know how to do to help him. I need help or advice to help me help him

    • You can try the Regional Center in your area for testing. I would do this ASAP. You can also try your school district if they have preschool programs. I can tell you that my local district
      totally blows off anyone unless they have an attorney to help them. It is so ridiculous that they pay large amounts to the attorney when that money could go hiring the teachers needed to help the students.

  21. my daughter is very disrespectful at home all the time but out in public it is a total different story

    • my grandson who i am raising has the same problem at school he does everything they want him to do . He is a perfect there but at home he yells he hits the walls throws things if you say one little word to set him off says bad words tells his PA PA i dont like you I WANT YOU GONE. Then later he will say im sorry. We are at our wits end we dont know what to do.

  22. i have a 16 year old who is in 9th grade. he is so jealous of his dad at being happy. he destroyed his dads last marriage. he cant stop telling lies. he talks to hisself and answers hisself. he will steal things and goes against our house rules. last night he had been taking a bath and he was saying i got rid of his other and i will get rid of her to. he has threaten to throw his dad in prison because he doesnt want to do what he is suppose to do. please help me cause i cant take his anger or not doing anything at all. i am taking nerve medicine just to be able to stand being in the same room. and there has been many nights that i would not sleep because i was afraid he would hurt us. his dad keeps saying he will grow out of . but it has been going on since 4 years ago

  23. My son is 16 years old and is in the 10th grade. I am concern with everything going on with him because he has got to the point where is doesn’t care about his grades and there is always an excuse as to why he is not passing. Out of 8 classes he is only passing 2 of them. I had to give him a drug test because he was and I believe he still is using marijuana. I feel like I am at my wits end and I really don’t know what to do anymore. Some times he will walk around angry and won’t talk and then a few hours later he is fine. I honestly feel like I am losing my son and don’t know what else there is for me to do to get him back. I also have a 12 year old who sees all of this and I don’t want him to head in the same direction but he is trying hard not to be anything like his brother.

  24. Debra, You posted a few months ago about Scott’s Valley Boarding school in Oregon. I am very interested in more what you have to say about this school.

  25. I have an 11 year old grandson that is ADHD and is on meds. He has 2 brothers and one sister. His behavior at school and outings with his friends and family are great! He is a total different boy at home. He can destroy the whole harmony of the family. He will not follow through the simplest task. How a very angry temper. His brothers and sisters hate him! He is a beautiful talented boy! His parents never do enough for him in his eyes! The spoiled one would be him. His parents are very concerned over the fact that they have no control over him now so what will happen in a few years! You never know the mood of this boy! If you met him you would think what a handsome well mannered young man. So very concerned, such a talented boy and his worst enemy being him self. They need some direction.

  26. My granddaughter is a high functioning autistic child. This blog gave me hope that the Sped folks will consider putting her on an IEP. I am a retired school teacher and have seen how the game is sometimes played with special needs kids.

  27. We’ve got a 14 year old daughter who has ASD and has become uncontrollable at home. She’s under the care of a psychiatrist, but needs more than medications. A crisis center will not take her in for an evaluation unless she harms herself or others, and she’s come pretty close to this. Does someone need to be hurt to get the help they need. We are seniors and our daughter is 5.4-1/2, defiant, strong, oppositional, combative, you name, she’s it. What can we do?

  28. My son is 16 and he just got kicked out of school in Georgia. He was in IEP. They did nothing to help me. I am going crazy because i am a single mama with 3 boys. And i work 2 jobs. I need some help so bad.

    • I was worried about that too. I was told that is the best thing they could do. They dropped the ball. Now u can put him in a therapeutic boarding school and the other school has to pay. It’s against the law, when a school expels a child, they have to have alternative schooling. I was also told private insurance help pay for part, most of it. Now, anyone know a boarding school for kids?

    • I’m also in Georgia. Has your situation improved? I want start a support group for parents with problem kids and the school system

  29. My daughter is an iep student at collage. I am also disable myself. Need help in how to help her out. She is angry because the disable program doesn’t help her out.

  30. If a child who is a senior got in trouble off school grounds, the school found out, suspended him for 45 days, then expelled him. Said they will home school him so he can graduate, get his diploma. But he can not walk with his class. His dad lives in another school district. The school said we can not transfer him. Can we put him in a private school?

  31. It doesn’t seem there is enough help out there for a parent/parents with children with disability factors such as ADHD, behav. disorders, etc… My son went through the system, special schools, ritalin, all of it; he is now a grown man and has grown up problems in relation to his disability. It is wearing me down; killing me. He gets in trouble with the law; hangs with the wrong people; amongst other things. I am at my ropes end on what to do. No one cares enough to help me nor him. They just look at you with uncaring faces and throw out some information so you will just leave their presence. I honestly need him committed for a comprehensive evaluation, but no one cares to help me, nor do they listen. So here I am lost and in a major life’s distress/depression.

    • Hello! I am having the same problem with my 28 yr old Son, he is very angry and mean at times, and other times is is a angel. I got mad at my nephews Nurse today and broke her mirrors off her truck and called her horrible names. He needs to be checked, He has a attitude all the time. And he has warrants for his arrest for Assault, theft and now for this. Someone please help me!!!!!!!!

    • Maybe try Vocational Rehab. I tried this for my son who has had similar issues as your son. He has a traumatic brain injury, adhd, behavior problems, etc. They do look at criminal history, as well as other factors including job history. They will do drug testing too. Unfortunately my son didn’t take the drug test in time so you have to start the whole process again. It seems like a helpful program – help getting a job or sometimes they even help with school or training for those with a disability if the county has the funds avail. I hope things are going better for you. It is definitely tough. Have been praying a lot and getting closer to God as a result.

  32. Tonya, I would question if the school has any social groups for him. Some schools have lunch buddies with typical kids who are compassionate to role model behaviors. My daughter was one of those “typical” kids and I was against it as no one asked my permission and the behavior of the other student greatly concerned me, but it all worked out. You mentioned something about the father and weekend visits. Is there anyway that you and his father can collaborate with a counselor to promote better outcomes for your son? Your son will be motivated when he sees that both parents are “cheering” for him not just at school but also sports, arts, etc. More, you did not mention any reading or math deficits which may also contribute. There are many agencies and resources to help. Call the info line in your state for resources.

  33. I have 5 years old son who was diagnosed with autism spectrum. He is in one on one kindergarten classroom. He just learned how to talk, he is very good student but his behavior has been big issue. He is beating teachers and everyone in family. He does not listen and it has been very hard to go out with him. Is there any special school for behavior in Boston Massachusetts or do you have any other suggestions for us?

  34. My son will be 8 in March. He gets very angry at school. I thought it was the school at first. This has been going on and off since he started preschool at 4. He gets Angry easily if he isn’t getting attention or if his teacher is telling him to listen. He gets disruptive in class and he yells at his teacher. When I ask him why he is acting this way at school he says other kids are making him mad. I asked him why he takes it out on the teacher if the kids are the ones that make him mad? I finally got him to talk to me about some kids bullying him and I spoke with his teacher about this and it stopped. He gets easily distracted and rushes through his work at school even if he is not understanding the work.(Math). He is a very smart boy. I let him go to his dads house on the weekends and I am certain this is why his behavior is bad.

  35. My son is 5 and is in prek and been having behavior issues since he was 3 and going to a Head Start program. Has been diagnosed with ADHD ODD and Mood Disorders and Behavior issues. He’s on medicine and the school is no help at all. Just need some advice on what to do. Are there any schools in Georgia for behavior issues?

  36. My son is 13 going on 14. He has an IEP. I took him out of school and started him in the k12 program. Now he is doing good on the program getting good grades. I don’t know how he was failing in school. My problem is that the kid don’t listen, he disregards anything I say to him is like talking to the walls. he dose not listen to nothing I say to him. He is ADHD, he is on meds has a counselor, see’s a psychiatrist & still its always madness in my house. there’s never a smooth day in my house. I need help plus a vacation!!!

    • My daughter was dx with autism at age 3. She is now 38. It has been a hard rough road throughout the years. I placed her in a group home, and now she is back living with me. I love her so much, but being a single mother and not having support system, I will have to place her back in another group home so I can go back to work. This is breaking my heart. Louisiana has poor support systems, and lacks funding for disabled to stay home, forcing parents to place their loved ones into places that is not wanted. I am in tears, and she doesn’t want to go. She wants to live at home with me, and I want her here with me. Life should not be this way.

  37. I have a 5yr old daughter who is completely out of control. she doesn’t listen, she’s extremely mouthy and still pees herself during the day and at night. she hits me and my 4yr old son and pushed my son down the stairs. i’m to my wits end. ive tried counseling. they wont let me enroll her in school due to the fact of her behavior. they claim she’s to young for any type of meds. please someone help with some type of advice bc i dont know how much longer i can do this.

  38. My friend adopted 2 boys about 8 years ago but she had them for all together 10 years they were 3 & 4 years old they have always had behavior problems but she kept them in counseling on going about 3 to 5 days a week. Monday 1 session, friday another session, saturday another session, with 3 different counselors 1 psychiatric being seen 1 a month for the medication, they have been on every adhd medication from stratera, abilified, ritalin, the patch, vyvanse, adderall tenex, deporcote, trazadon, melatonin, round the clock. we also had men from a church helping taking out time with them and they stole games cigarettes, cellphones, food from school, stealing things out from lockers in school and being caught on camera, knife incident. now lives in ga every way she turns she gets shut down because he is 14 yrs old. what can she do or put him?

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