Sue, thank you so much for your detailed response. I had a lot of ah-ha moments as I read son sounds so similar. Time outs never worked for us, very few things have. He doesn't choose to do the things he does, and I agree things are not ever unprovoked. They look that way to us but a few times he has said "She hit me." Which maybe she did, but it was days ago...he doesn't forget anything, so that makes sense that maybe he is taking note of these little things that we aren't noticing and it looks like he is coming out of nowhere with his behaviors. You're totally right in that he acts on impulses that take over his mind and he has no choice but to act on them...I think that's the bottom line of why he does the things he does.
Yeah stopping and thinking does not happen, especially at this age. His brain doesn't ever stop even for a split second.
I totally have to throw out the idea that he is choosing to be defiant and act badly...this is a viewpoint as a parent that I totally need to shift. It's just so dang hard! I think I need this child to teach me a thing or two about patience myself...He has already shown his self esteem is low..saying things like "I am bad..." because that's what he hears from other kids. We need some serious self esteem building...
What you said about your son saying "I'll never get better" really struck a cord with me....One night and one night I almost cried, he said "I'm just different and bad and I'm always going to be like this my entire life...I don't want to be, I don't know how to not be like this....I try mommy!" That seems like a cry for help. He said this as a 3 year old!!!