3-yr-old female with family history - Is there help?

by Amy
(Austin, TX)

Lola's Story

My 3-yr-old niece exhibits signs of bipolar disorder. She is brilliant, loving, tempermental, exhausting, strong-willed, demanding, bossy, and full of energy.

Lola's dad was diagnosed (I believe incorrectly) with ADHD as a child. As an adult, he has been diagnosed as Bipolar with OCD. He, like many, thinks he can self correct his problem, is afraid of medication, and self medicates with alcohol and drugs. Lola's dad's sister is also Bipolar, has attempted suicide, is addicted to Heroin, was sexualy promiscuous, and is living out her final days with AIDS. Lola's dad's Aunt was severe Bipolar and comitted suicide in her early 40's.

Lola's mom's side of the family has a long history of depression and anxiety with nearly every female in the family on an SSRI. Her maternal great-grandmother was treated with shock therapy in the 1950s and diagnosed with "Manic Depression."

Thank God my sister Becky has the patience of Job. Lola's fits are exceptional. Recently, on a 1.5hr trip home. Lola's movie ended, and she went into an extreme fit. My mom (Lola's grandma) was in the car and called me with great concern for Lola. She said Lola insisted she get out of the car seat at that moment. OK, sounds normal, but Lola went into what my my mom describes as an Exorcist fit. Her eyes were glazed, she kicked frantically, and screamed bloody murder for the remaining 15 minutes home. When they got home, it took Lola at least an hour to recover. My mom, having raised 4 children, and has had a home day care for 30 years, had never seen such a fit.

Lola has had these "fits" since late infantcy. They have changed through different stages, but have all been excessive. At the smallest irritation, she will drop to the floor and thrash and scream with only minutes earlier being loving and friendly.

She does not do well with people she does not know and new environments. Lola is very intelligent and speaks well for her age. If a person, outside

her familiar 3 adults she knows, approaches her, she will scream and kick at them and then run and hide. As she has become more articulate, she will tell them, "DON'T LOOK AT ME! YOU GO AWAY! YOUR NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE! STOP THAT!" She says these things to bypassers at the store who are not even looking at her! She always thinks others are looking at her, and if she catches someone looking at her, she will scream and throw herself on the ground. My sister says people in grocery stores look at her like she is the worst parent in the world and has even overheard them saying, "That parent needs to get her child under control." Oh, if they only knew. Lola's mom is in her last year of an elementary education degree and tries the "usual" behavior modification techniques she has learned from child psychology and education classes. These DO NOT work for Lola.

Lola has never ending energy. She will run and run and run.

She will only eat what she wants to eat! Forget it if you think you are going to make her eat or sleep when she doesn't want to.

If her mom attempts to enforce compliance, Lola will scream, "STOP THAT MOMMY! NO, I WON'T! YOU'RE MEAN MOMMY!" And, will NOT give in. Thank goodness she is teeny tiny, so her mom can just pick her up and go with her if need be to prevent a scene.

She cannot be left in a day care. She quickly notices her mom is missing and goes into hysterics. At a church nursery, she threw open the door and ran down the hall. Thank goodness her mom was waiting to see how she would do and was there to catch her.

My sister lives in a small town 45 minutes west of Austin, TX. She has discussed these issues with her pediatrician, but the issues were quickly dismissed as being usual toddler temper tantrums.

Lola and Becky need help. Where should they go to find it?

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