August 3, 2022

Being a parent of a child with oppositional defiant disorder.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

I have a child with additional needs. Specifically, he suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

It looks so neat and tidy when you put it like this, but it’s not. Not even a little.

He is so smart, handsome and loving. But he is also violent, self-destructive and oppositional.

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This year, after a particularly bad start to the year (including a few punches and a running home incident), I made the difficult decision to switch to distance learning – it turns out that he’s just a square peg in a round hole, and that makes him “too much” for school.

So now the explosions are mine! Tough days, sitting in the chair upside down with a stool over my head, refusing to work, then using a puppet to bark swear words at me.

I’m the one saying he hates it. It’s me he bites in two, breaks, throws into the room.

But in the evening, after it’s all said and done, he cups my face in his hands and says “sorry mum”, and for a few short moments, it’s all worth it.

He was diagnosed with ASD1 in 2019, and it was an uphill battle. Psychiatrists, psychologists, alternative medicine, general practitioners, podiatrists, occupational therapists, chiropractors… I don’t get any help. No Centrelink, no child support, and nothing from NDIS.

His dad spends his days abusing drugs and riding the best wave, or writing on social media that he’s a good dad. He pays me the generous sum of $36 a month in child support. But it wasn’t always like that. He had a job and owned things – but I guess supporting a child is just too much for him.

This year they upped my son’s diagnosis to ASD2, and suddenly there was an opportunity to apply for the NDIS. The bill for getting the documents I need to apply keeps going up. I have to keep a roof over our heads. I have to manage my three jobs, plus distance education, and there’s no alternate weekend in this scenario — it’s just me.