Her husband of eight years, Jerry, explains, "He will go ballistic. He will turn purple in the face. He will get sick to his stomach. He will tell us, 'No, I don't want to do that.' He'll knock his little sister down. He likes to put a choke hold on
Kevin's school diagnosed him with Asperger's syndrome and ADHD. "They say his behavioral and social skills need a lot of work." But their pediatrician says Kevin will outgrow the behavior.
Leslie realizes that Kevin's behavior is putting a strain on her marriage. "I do feel myself pulling away from Jerry because he's not here all day," she says. "There are times I get so angry with Kevin that I do scare myself. It's almost like the room is spinning," Leslie explains. "Sometimes it just feels like we're living in a hell."
Turning to Dr. Phil she says, "I love Kevin with all of my heart and soul and I would do anything to help him. I just don't know what to do.""The first thing we have to do, obviously, is what we refer to as a differential diagnosis. He's been diagnosed with ADHD and
Dr. Lawlis offers his opinion. "When you give in to him, he starts to behave correctly," he points out. "ADHD kids don't do that. They're either all of the time or none of the time."
"I know a lot of it is my fault. I've been under, probably, a tremendous amount of stress," says Leslie, explaining that she had a miscarriage, lost her mother and had two C-sections. "Poor Kevin has not seen a lot of great out of his mom the past two and a half years."
Jerry gives his opinion. "I think Kevin can be very charming and he can really turn it on when he wants to. But I can't tell if there's something wrong with him or he's just learning how to play us," he says.
Dr. Phil explains that to make the differential diagnosis, they must look at a few things, including whether Kevin can turn his behavior on or off when he wants to. "There are things you can do to minimize the ADD or ADHD if it's there, but a
"Sometimes I will," Jerry agrees.
"We have a child and he doesn't want to do something and he resists and you don't give in. He resists some more, and you don't give in. So he really resists now. He's yelling. He's screaming. He's peeing in his pants. He's throwing up. He's choking. He's threatening you with a broken bottle, and you go, 'OK, that's fine. Stay up.' What have you just taught him?" Dr. Phil asks. "The last behavior that occurs before the payoff is the one that is reinforced most powerfully. You've conditioned him to be not only be rebellious, but durably rebellious," Dr. Phil adds.
Jerry questions which battles are worth fighting.
"You do pick your battles, but once you choose one, don't ever lose," Dr. Phil makes clear. "If he's writing on the wall and you don't want to deal with it, then don't see it. But if you go in
Dr. Phil suggests they read Family First to learn how to stop reinforcing and extinguish negative behavior, and how to stop tantrums. Dr. Phil concludes that Kevin doesn't appear to have ADD because he doesn't act out like this in daycare.