She is spirited. She's tested negative for sensory disorders and on-par with or beyond her peers for development. Since she was about 3 months old, we've gotten three months or so of great behavior, and then something in our lives will change and this scary side comes out:
Everything is cause for tantrum (the broken cookie syndrome, only it doesn't build throughout the day, it starts with waking up). The screaming lasts 30 to 45 minutes followed by up to a full hour of outright sobbing. Tantrums can include puking, peeing on herself, and hyperventilating, not to mention hitting, kicking, throwing things and trying to rip off your clothes. Between tantrums, we get incredible, nonsensical demands yelled at us, an over-the-top need for order (it's nearly impossible to play with her because you can't do everything the 'right' way), transitions and simple tasks that normally take her 5 minutes are stretched to 30 minutes. She's overall just very angry and very sad. Let me add that she's an angel at daycare, and they're always shocked by the tantrums she throws when I tell her we have to go home. We tried daycare a year ago, and she was so upset she stopped eating and drinking while there, so there is progress in that regard.
Now, in between these rough times she has three or four month stretches where she's a happy, well-adjusted little girl. She was breastfed until age 2; I've worked from home with her for the most part until about a month ago; I even dissolved my home-based business because I thought the irregular schedule was making her worse, and took on a regular part-time job. She hasn't experienced any death in the family or witnessed anything traumatic. She's shy, but communicates fine when she's feeling OK.
I come to this forum for advice because the physicians and parenting centers in my area insist there is nothing wrong with her since the behavior goes in spurts and she's not developmentally delayed. I've also been told -- big surprise -- that it's my parenting style that has caused this. If I would just let her cry herself to sleep ... yeah.
Whether this behavior is, or is not, caused by some disorder, can anyone offer some advice? How do you get through the day? How do you face the thought of going out in public knowing she could kick in the car windows if you have to take her to the car because she's going off the deep end? How do you keep her from hurting herself or others when she's going nuts? She doesn't respond to anything typical (use your words, removal from the scene to calm down, distraction, explanations, etc.) She's using her words alright. She's screaming how mad she is while she smacks me, and she's too big and strong to remove to a quiet place and keep her there. How do you keep from feeling totally burned out and shutting down emotionally? I pay for any breaks with worse behavior. How do you keep restaurant managers and family members from stepping in to "help"? Any and all advice is welcome and appreciated. I can't possibly be totally alone in this. I'm in this sort-of no-man's land: technically, there doesn't seem to be a real disorder like Autism, but she is really, really hard to deal with.