Are You Down with ODD?

OK, so there’s this thing called ODD, which stands for Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Are you downwith ODD-

Do you know the power of “Oppositional?”

The word “Oppositional,” as in “Oppositional Defiance Disorder,” can completely change your life and the path of your child. Because here’s the thing: ODD is a no-go for many institutions who focus on different-needs kids.

What do I mean by that?

I mean if your child gets labeled “ODD,” then your school choices just narrowed from 2 choices to .5 choices. And the small choice you might actually have is probably going to cost you a ridiculous amount of money, which many of us cannot afford.

Some areas in the world don’t have these issues of finding schooling, but I do and it’s no bueno.

My best guess for this, and please realize I don’t know for sure, is that there are safety issues involved. If this is the case, I would agree. Often times children labeled with ODD tend to have strong physical reactions to difficulties, which could scare and actually hurt other people surrounding them.

I understand the difficulty completely and I agree with any policy regarding the safety of the students, staff, visitors, etc. . . . I’ve seen my own son struggle with feeling scared of someone else’s reactions. I’ve seen my son have reactions that scared others, including myself.

In the beginning when ODD and I met

Here’s the thing about ODD and me. I used to think it was a complete cop-out diagnosis. I used to (operative phrase “used to”) believe it was a made-up diagnosis and that we were just reaching for the stars while trying to label some of our children and explain their huge reactions to what we might deem small events.

Here’s a quick example of how I came to the conclusion that ODD wasn’t real.

I had a wonderful friend who I met because our kids were in the “high-needs kid school” together. Her son was wonderful, from what I knew of him, and I actually hung out with him enough to know him more than just as a casual acquaintance.

I didn’t see the anger issues or the breakdowns that I had heard about because my interactions with him were kind, engaging, and interesting.

As it turned out, he wasn’t doing so hot in school. Hmmmm?

He had major struggles with the transitions from class to class, and I heard that he would get so angry that he would kick trash cans and such when he was too frustrated.

In the end, the school asked him to leave and they unofficially diagnosed him with ODD.

When I believed ODD was not a thing

Here’s the part about that example that made me not believe ODD was a thing.

The teachers that were there “lacked” (in my opinion) the ability to help the kids with transitions from class to class, subject to subject, and situation to situation. I feel they simply weren’t a good fit to help these kids transition. They didn’t really help our “special needs kids” that were going to the “special needs kids’ school.”  (Insert eyeroll here because I was paying some excellent money for this school and I wasn’t seeing the benefits for my son as much as I had hoped for).

This student struggled because the teacher didn’t handle his transitions very well. He was thus loosely labeled ODD. And I didn’t buy it. I felt the same that many people did and thought it was simply a label we slapped on anyone who had a rebellious nature or strong ADHD or whatever. ODD was just not a thing.

I’d heard a few other grumblings that ODD was a farce as well, so I had pretty much set my opinion in concrete about that.

But then Bobby Sue happened and I reintroduced myself to ODD.

I met Bobby Sue (Name changed because it’s fun to make up names. Also because it’s appropriate).

Bobby Sue rarely did anything that any adult asked. Bobby Sue stared adults down if they asked Bobby Sue to do something and Bobby Sue didn’t want to do that thing. Or stop the thing. Or listen to the adult. Or whatever.

Bobby Sue was going to do what Bobby Sue was going to do. Bobby Sue went out of the way to do the “opposite” of what the current rules or expectations were. All. Of. The. Time.

I was fortunate enough to get first-hand experience with Bobby Sue one day. I remember thinking that I’d literally never seen anything like it in my life . . . and I’ve met a lot of people!

Bobby Sue wasn’t going to be bothered with listening, following instructions, or anything else that other people wanted done.

So I looked up ODD and found several articles that mostly confirmed that there really were kids with ODD. I will say that I’ve been around long enough to know that if there are moms out there ranting and raving about something that it’s bound to be a real thing.

Well, after reviewing the info, I guessed that ODD was probably one of those labels that gets slapped on places it definitely doesn’t belong.

And for good reason–if you have a kid who’s completely defiant, or struggles greatly with transitions or whatever, and has  huge, scary, and dangerous reactions, you’re going to want words matched to the condition because it’s so freaking hard to keep up with.

ODD Oppositional Defiance Disorder

I have a strong opinion that these kids and adults (I know–having a strong opinion is so shocking for me–Bahaha!) are wired this way–in some rebellious way. I believe they absolutely do not want to have the reactions and tantrums that they do, and I honor that they show up in the way that they do.

What are you trying to share with me, Mica?

The first thing I’d like to point out is that our beliefs can change!

My first few experiences with ODD didn’t jive with the world. When Bobby Sue came into my life and I understood more about why this diagnosis may have been created, I had to reexamine my thoughts and beliefs about ODD. I did that and I am now more open to and understanding of ODD.

The second thing I want to share is kind of like the first thing, except with our actual kids or self. We have to continually reevaluate and take a look at how we’re reacting, what has changed with us, the experiences we’re being presented, etc.

We are changing all of the time. We are gaining more experience, insight, and maturity (hopefully, anyway). And so are our children. I think it comes back to being present with what “is” in this moment. And then what “is” in the next moment. We can use the previous history and schema for the present moment, but I think we need to work hard to embrace that the new moment is new. And fresh. And open to possibilities. And clean.

I hope you accept and learn something new that you were closed to before.Accept Learn New If Closed to Something

I know it was hugely refreshing for me to understand ODD more fully and to meet new amazing people (Bobby Sue is an incredibly fabulous person). I’ve shared before that I believe education and learning are the critical keys to making our world a more inclusive place to live and love.

All the very best to your day,


I’d love to chat and connect on Facebook. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to share or hear more about. 🙂

Headline song reference if you were wondering.



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