I posted above with my story of how I helped my ADD son through his grammar and high school years by
listening to each of his interests and enrolling him in whatever I could to find that matched those interests.
My goals was to build confidence and achievement. We did that without therapy and drugs.
I changed his school too. I took him from a public school to a public charter school that offered more options
to types of learning. So I tried to match the opportunities to his needs rather than the other way around.
I joined CHADD, spoke to every educational specialist I could through the years, read whatever I could and kept
logs and journals figuring out meticulously what worked and what did not.
I quit my job and started my own business from home so I could be available for him before and after school. I drove him
back and forth to grammar and middle school each day so I was sure he got there. I also noticed he was the most ‘open’
to how his day had gone during those commutes to and from school with no gadgets in front of him or other distractions. I got
more information out of him in the 15-minute drive than another other time of the day. It was just the two of us.
And that made a difference in understanding how his day had gone.
He’s 22 now and with 3 months left to go, he’s due to graduate a leading university with a B-average. I know I am
going to ‘lose it’ when he walks across that stage. It has been a difficult journey.
I’m not here to brag that the results have been better than I could have imagined. It wasn’t easy. There were times he
didn’t want to attend school or finish his work. Worse yet, he told me he only wanted to do the ‘bare minimum’ and then
that would get my mind churning to see what could be done. I’m not educated in
any ESE work. I am a business woman with a marketing specialty. So I went into this ‘cold’. I had no outside family support. Fortunately, my
husband saw my vision and worked with me. He’s a mechanic and knew nothing about ADD either. With him, life would have
been even more difficult.
everyone accountable to helping him and maintaining his IEP in school. I made friends and some times, enemies,
but I wouldn’t go down with out trying behavior modification over medication. But teachers saw me doing my part in helping him
do his work and show up in school that they often complimented my efforts and would be more likely to go that extra mile for him when needed.
One teacher would call me from inside the class when he wasn’t cooperating and I’d have to speak to him. Another teacher had the power to
keep him back a grade in 4th grade due to poor reading test scores but she knew he could do the work and she knew I was his greatest advocate.
So she offered to go go the school board and pleaded the argument to let him pass through to 5th grade so he wouldn’t fall behind. She told me she did
that because she knew I wouldn’t let him fall through the cracks.
I am writing because I saw your list of meds that your son takes. I am not judging because I know the meds
really do help so many and for many they are a saving grace.
However some of the side effects that you mentioned could possibly be attributed to the medication. For example, weight
gain and depression are some of those side effects.
I only mention this because if the meds don’t work and all that the therapist is doing is raising the dosage, then perhaps it could be
best to step back and question why to continue with something that is not working.
Perhaps, a re-evaluation of those drugs
with a doctor who takes a non-pharmaceutical approach could answer that question. If something is not working then try something else.
Perhaps contacting CHADD for recommendations. It’s a laborious process but it is your right to find the most
suitable medical help for your son.
I also checked on astrophysics camps for children. Yale offers a summer camp https://yspa.yale.edu/ as does
Columbia University http://sps.columbia.edu/highschool/summer-immersion/new-york-city-3-week/courses/astronomy-and-astrophysics
and NASA http://www.pathwaystoscience.org/Discipline.aspx?sort=ENG-Astrophysics_Astronomy%20*%20Astrophysics
As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time finding programs that met my son’s interests. This was a full time job. I would
start in January and make a list for the summer of places to contact. And I put away money to afford these opportunities.
I applied for scholarships and grant monies whenever i could. I worked a babysitting job in the mornings in addition to running my business to raise money for flight
lessons he wanted. I would find sponsors who would support him. One year, about age 14, he painted mailboxes in our neighborhood to raise money to fly to WI to attend an aviation summer camp. He got a scholarship that year as well. I created a website for him, purchased the domain and took pictures of him
painting. Then I copied in an online calendar for people to book appointments and I made business cards for him on
my printer. He was eager to attend camp so he was motivated to do the work and go door-to-door to ask people if they wanted their mailbox painted to advertise his
painting ‘business’. It was a successful venture.
Even though a camp might be out of reach, I suggest calling them anyway and ask them to make a recommendation. I found one
camp through a recommendation from another camp and eventually he attended that camp for 5 years and then became a counselor and then he got a job there his
last summer in the kitchen. So one thing can lead to another and if they want it, they will work for it.
I am not a medical professional so my view point is only from a lay perspective. Since you describe some physical and mental
attributes, I’m suggesting to rethink every aspect of what goes into his body and his brain. I know when a Dr. prescribed
Adderall in 2000 when my son was only 6 years old, I spoke to many medical professionals to learn how this drug actually reshapes
the brain. And at that early stage of development; at a time when the brain is at a critical stage, it scared me to think
that something I would give him could affect his brain for the rest of his life. So I backed down from meds and devoted my
time to behavior modification. Again, that is my story and I recognize our path is not the same treatment for everyone.
Find a support system for yourself. CHADD was all I had for so long but it was instrumental in deciding that I
could help him myself. They have a hot line that is free. And they have networking events and conferences. It really
helps to be around people who understand your position. http://www.chadd.org/
Give yourself kudos for reaching out for help.