Friday, June 25, 2010

Severe Behavior Problems and Hyperthyroidism

Scheme of the thyroid gland, labelled in GermanImage via Wikipedia

Since he started school my now 17 year old son Jeremy has been a holy terror at school, and at home. He's made teachers cry in frustration. So much so that when he was in middle school we had to have him moved to a county run program for MR kids with the highest level of behavior problems in the area. One on one, with in class behavior therapists. He was one of the worst they'd seen. They were able to calm him down some, but nothing worked at home.

Just one little slight or refusal of something would send him into furniture throwing, wall kicking clothes ripping, couch ripping, window breaking, door destroying rage. He'd start to breathe real fast and we'd know it was coming. And he's always been VERY strong.

About a year ago I started getting worried about his rapid breathing during sleep and the fact that he was always sweaty so we mentioned it to the pediatrician on one of his visits and she said we need to have his thyroid checked.

Now kids with DS are very frequently low in thyroid, or hypothyroid. But when she felt J's neck she found a huge goiter. I always thought he just had a thick neck, like a couple other of my DS kids.

She also said that fixing this might help his behavior problems. And fix them it did.

He started taking the pills to destroy some of his thyroid and his behavior changed. Not over night, but definitely improved. He gets monthly blood tests, and the MD said it would probably take a year or more to get him stabilized. Then he got too low, and she took away the meds for a month.

After a while he started acting up again. Not nearly as bad, but still troublesome. We though, bet his thyroid is high again, and it was. So he's back on the little pills again.

The alternative to the pills, and probably the preferable treatment, was irradiation of the thyroid gland. We opted not to do that because kids with DS have three times the chance of normal kids of getting leukemia in their lifetimes.

So moral of the story...if your DS kid, or for that matter ANY KID is driving you nuts think hyperthyroidism. We always figured that the peds would have checked that. But our new one never even touched his neck, let alone ran yearly Thyroid blood tests. And in our defense,who thinks of a kid with severe behavior problems and thinks, "I bet it's his thyroid!"
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