Reply To: Help! My ADHD teen refuses to go to school

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Your son sounds as if he’s been on strike against the educational establishment for 8 or 9 years now!! Poor kid! And poor you & little brother & father!!!

You have my empathy! I am fortunate that my son was good-tempered, mostly
(I did find the book “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” a huge help
[even though I’d already had lots of education/training for good listening & communicating —
for me, communicating at home was a lot more difficult than other places].
My anger often came in response to what I felt was my son’s deliberate refusal to cooperate.
I also found Don’t Shoot the Dog immensely helpful.
(Funny — I think of my son now as easy-going, but actually… he wasn’t when he was very young).
Those 2 books, starting a parent support group
[it didn’t last terribly long — the “apples” we parents wanted to behave better hadn’t fallen far from the tree]
& getting him on ADHD medicine, & some help from therapy for me made a tremendous difference.
Maybe especially once I learned to stop letting his anger trigger my anger.
And having support & prayers from other mothers who had difficult/high-needs children also made a difference.)
And over the years some of his hyper-activity was dampened by a serious chronic illness.

When he would have been going into 6th grade
(he’d had some wonderful supportive & creative teachers in his first years,
but the middle school, for him was a disaster.
I think for some teachers —
who were perhaps like some of your son’s —
they just didn’t know how to deal with a kid who was soooo bright & creative,
but had trouble writing, even speaking at times,
was “different,”
[okay, maybe a bit weird by the standards of middle school kids… & some other kids]).
we took him out of school, and home-schooled him.
(And, eventually his brother, though that was definitely not in the original plan.)
What a world of difference!
My blood pressure finally came down
& my cardiologist, who knew about such things,
said it was probably because we’d switched to homeschooling.

My impression from what you’ve said is that your son is gifted
(as well as having ADHD)
& that was nurtured until he hit 1st grade
when he was probably expected to go at the slow pace of kids who were more typical & were behind him in learning?
And ADHD isn’t always helpful in dealing with being “dumbed down.”
Some children can deal with that.
Some of us aren’t so good at it.
ADHD may make our responses more negative —
we may know how we want/need to learn,
so why don’t these people GO AWAY & let us???!!!!!

(Most of my early teachers came from one-room schools
where they had to individualize things and have some things everyone could do together.
Teachers who are trained to just teach one grade may not have those skills.
My sons were fortunate that their first teachers were outstanding at working with all sorts of kids,
but they both finally got to a point of really bad matches,
partly due to the “system” when they got older).

At some point, my husband started as an adjunct at a local community college,
& my sons, at about 14 & 17, started taking courses there.
Because of his other chronic illnesses, the 17-year-old took awhile to graduate with his A.A.,
but he also finally managed to get a degree,
a course at a time, from Harvard University’s “extension school” (basically night school).
The other son went cross-country & finished college easily in 4-years, including study abroad.

Some things I found helpful were
doing things together that we both/all 4 liked
(and could afford).
Sharing about things that interested us.
Listening to how others saw my sons.
( I wish I’d stood up more for my older son when he was in situations when he got picked on…
but maybe not.
We did talk about what might make someone pick on people, things like that
and maybe how to defuse the tension.)
Camping & other outdoor activities.
For awhile, they did a good bit of the dinner cooking.
(Because they enjoyed it.)
Helping other people.
We were active in church —
I think some kind of supportive community which accepts people who are…quirky?..
and values all people and looks to serve others is important.

I can’t imagine what it was like for your son to go from
reading well on his own,
being able to do all sorts of things
& think about life, the world, the universe
& then to, I’m guessing, a one-size-fits-all school.
My sons each had to deal with that a little,
but not until 3rd grade (for the one who’s only dyslexic)
& 5th grade for the one with ADHD & serious health problems.
By then, they & we had more support from others,
but that was the point when we set homeschooling plans in place (or unschooling).

Sorry this is long. I do have some links to resources which may be helpful which I’ll try to remember to post later.