Who Rules the Roost?

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CASE:Adam's mother was concerned about her 3-year-old son's hyperactivity, violence, and activity level. Adam and his mom had recently moved into a shelter for pregnant women. The rest of the residents are primarily in their early 20s, whereas Adam's mom is 42. She had found about 3 months ago that she was pregnant. This was her fourth pregnancy, second with this father, and he had recently left her when she refused an abortion. Her other children are 22 and 24 and live out of state. She has a history of opioid addiction. She had been on methadone during Adam's gestation and had recently started on buprenorphine to treat her addiction during this pregnancy as well.Adam is here today for his 3-year-old checkup and you had not seen him for a year. Mom states that he has been healthy but has become progressively active over the last year. He is very angry about his dad leaving, and according to Adam's mother “blames her” for sending him away. They are living in 1 room at the shelter, and mom is finding it increasingly difficult to keep him busy all day. When she goes out looking for a job, he is very challenging at the shelter, and she constantly receives complaints that he is “too loud” in the common rooms. She feels like she is at the end of her rope with him, he is constantly climbing, bolting from her, and taking risks.When you examine Adam, you find a robust, healthy young boy. His eye contact is good, and he is socially related but does actively explore your office. When he begins taking the instruments off your wall, his mother sits passively watching him. When he begins playing with the faucet, she half heartedly tells him to “stop” but he looks at her and continues splashing. He then begins flicking the light switch on and off in the room with no response from mom. When you ask about discipline, mom states “nothing works.” When you ask about supports, she states “I have nobody except Adam and the new baby now.”Adam was born after an uneventful full-term pregnancy with his mother on 100 mg methadone daily. She denies cigarette smoking, drugs, alcohol, or other medications. Urine testing throughout was positive only for opioids. Motor milestones were achieved at the appropriate time. Language milestones at the 2-year-old visit consisted of 10 single words. Now, he has a 50 single-word vocabulary but no 2-word combinations. He primarily takes whatever he wants and has a tantrum if mom cannot figure out what he desires.Adam's medical history is unremarkable. Family history is significant for drug abuse by her father and mother; mental illness in the father's family consisting of bipolar disorder in several uncles. Where do you go from here?

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