My 17 year old isn't going to graduate next year

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    • #87806

      I have a 17 year old who was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD when he was in 3rd grade, he started his academic “career” in Ny. When he was in 6th grade we moved to Az. When we lived in Ny the expectations of the schools were much different and he did ok in school. He is on a stimulant for concentration during the day and on seroqel for behavior at night. He supposed to enter his senior year of high school in a month, however, he has failed algebra 2, 4 times, amungst other classes. He cannot graduate without it. If he DOES go back to school (if the district decides to let him go back to an alternative school,which they may not) he will have to pass ALL of his classes which he has never done. He thinks the school will give him a diploma, regardless of his grades. He refuses counseling, teachers struggle with his 504 plan, I work with the behavioral specialist at school, he lies and skips out on tutoring, he refuses to do the very little homework that’s ever assigned, won’t study for a test. But yet he thinks he’s getting scholars ships into major universities and scouts are looking at him to play hockey?! We can’t get through to him that he’s not graduating, does anyone have any suggestions how I can get him to take his senior year seriously and if not? What do I do with a high school failure?

    • #87869

      Hi Darlene,
      My daughter refused to do school work and I took her out of middle school and began homeschooling her. She missed the social interactions and now she wants to go back. There might still be a struggle but at least i have some leverage.
      Now, with kids who have add adhd ocd odd etc we parents have to be involved if we want them to succeed. This means checking homework, explaining lessons they didn’t understand or getting extra tutoring.
      With my 6 year old, we worked on school material everyday after school because during school hours he would waste his time and not finish worksheets, etc. I sat and read the stuff with him and quizzed him. That’s how he passed the year.
      He is young, but kids who have this type of situations need help regardless of the age.
      Someone has to help him if you want him to graduate.
      One day at a time. One step at a time.
      Take care.

    • #87883

      Thanks Clara,
      I have always been extremely hands on with all 3 of my kids and their school work, and with the communication at school, and participation at school. I was a stay at home mom for more than 15 years. Having 3 kids with ADHD, and 2 with ODD, is extremely time consuming. The kids respond better to tutors, or teachers, rather than me, unfortunately, they won’t express their ODD symptoms outside the home, so they will do their work if a teacher or tutor makes them. But will not do anything at home for me. There’s not enough tutors at school or time after school, and my son refuses to go or show up. We’ve waisted a lot of time And money. Not to mention a lot of other people’s time as well. I do appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

    • #87951
      Penny Williams

      It sounds like he’s not getting the level of support at school that he needs. In middle and high school especially, educators think students should be “responsible” and “accountable” and “motivated to do well.” They have narrow definitions of those terms that convince them that kids like ours are just lazy and defiant. Every kid wants to do well. If they’re not able to achieve it, then there’s something more going on.

      I imagine his overly-optimistic outlook is some denial and self-preservation. Because, again, he wants to do better than he’s doing. Skipping class may also be an attempt to not fail in a twisted way (he can blame not being in class instead of feeling like there’s something wrong with him or he’s dumb).

      I don’t have advice here really, my son just barely scraped through his freshman year because the school doesn’t support him enough. And they know I write books on ADHD and am a very educated parent on learning challenges and they still believe he’s lazy and irresponsible. Even his special ed teacher. They just don’t understand executive functioning and the depth and breadth of the impact of those deficits.

      I think every state in the US has online virtual public school for free now. That may be an option, if you think he’d do better in a different environment. Maybe it takes him an extra year — some kids just aren’t good at school, no matter how smart they are. And, leaving it up to him to go to tutoring probably isn’t going to result in a good outcome. He needs to be reminded at the time he needs to go and he needs to know it’s not optional.

      See if any of the accommodations in this list sound like they would help, and then propose them to the school:

      50 High School Accommodations for Every ADHD Challenge

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #88052

      Thank you Penny,
      I will look at your list, we have tried on line classes to try to make up credits, and we personally have brought him to tutoring classes, but he leaves , or when we drop him off he seems to never find the clasroom…but I’m always open to more options.

    • #89132

      As hard as it is, sometimes we have to let them fail and experience the consequences. You may want to talk to him about hisdaily life should he not be in college—-work, household responsibilities, etc. It’s possible that this may make it more real for him.

    • #89169

      I would have to agree with Kathleen. We are in the exact same situation as you Darlene. Our son is 17 (will be 18 in two months), and starting his senior year in high school. Last year was EXTREMELY challenging for us with Cs, Ds and Fs from a kiddo that could be an A/B student. Bottom line, we came to realize that we were making ourselves crazy, wanting more for our son, than he wanted for himself. We’ve also come to realize that it is not the end of the world if 1) he doesn’t graduate with his class, 2) if he doesn’t go to a 4 year college, 3) if he attends a junior college, 4) if he has to get his GED (instead of a HS diploma), 5) if he goes to trade school. He knows that he has to be able to support himself and he knows that he will not be living in our basement when he is 24 years old.

    • #89190

      I have an adhd/odd 17 year old too going into his senior year. Very similar situation where he was failing some classes because he just didn’t do homework and it’s ext rare that he’ll study for exams. What worked for us, and it was just in the last quarter of his junior year, was his love of computers and gaming. I told him if he failed a class or got any zeros on homework he would lose his computer until summer break. The difference in him was night and day. That last quarter of the school year I no longer had to check each teacher’s website for homework, and no longer had I had to have him show me he completed it. He knew the consequences. I had teachers emailing me saying how much more he was engaged in class and that he was completing work on time. He got his grades up and passed his classes, finals, and Regents exams. It’s the first time I let him truly fly solo. Every week I’d check parent portal to make sure he was on track. Does your son have something that he’d hate to lose that you could use? Other than that truly the best solution is to let him fail. I know as parents it’s extremely hard to watch our kids fail but they do learn better that way. He has to learn that if he doesn’t perform in life he won’t get anywhere. Does he work? My son has a part time job and hates it, which is good as it makes him see that if he doesnt graduate then that job could be his life. Our sons seem very similar.

    • #89192

      With regard to math, sometimes kids needs a really gifted teacher. I am a perfect example; I was horrible at math for most of my school career until I got to one teacher who somehow made it all snap into place. Ask around for the name of a teacher who is talented at getting through to kids who are struggling in math. Like I say, it’s a gift that few people have so it may take a while to find someone but they’re out there.

      The main thing is damage control. Right now you want to work with the school and/or a therapist on how to get him through high school with the least damage to his future. My father only had a GED but he wound up going to college and then law school so don’t worry so much about him graduating.
      Maybe your son works for a year or two after high school before starting his next educational phase. Big deal. The last thing you want is for him to go to community college and start racking up Ds and Fs.

      I bet he’s still in that childhood stage where they think that if they just wish hard enough for something, they’ll get it. I have a kid just like that. It’s a developmental phase that they just have to grow out of, and with some kids the lightbulb doesn’t go on until 22 or 23 or even later.

      And don’t look down your nose at trade school, good welders make $60,000 a year and a lot more if they specialize. Linemen can make $200,000.

    • #89206

      Oh my goodness. My husband and I are in the same boat with our daughter. I thought we were the only ones!! It’s like I’m reading a book of our family. It’s exhausting and lonely and depressing. Our school has been supportive thankfully. Our daughter is going to be in 10th grade and I know the personalities of the special ed teachers and counselors so now I can push a little bit more on each teacher.
      Out here in San Diego County is one high school that has a great program. My friends boys went thru it. It’s the AARC program. Look up El Camino HS AARC program. I wish that was offered in all schools in San Diego. Another note… my daughter took math in summer school
      And got an A. The teacher makes a difference!

    • #89212

      My son was in the same place going into his senior year. Passing Algebra alluded my son too. He was offered a computer based, learn at your own pace math class during summer school which he did well in. See if the school can offer him that or he can take it outside of school and they’ll accept it. It will help at this point not to dwell on it as a failure and to let go of how it should be. And realize it’s Like penguin rooster said you need to do damage control. My son was SO beaten down and we were both under so much stress. I seriously worried about his mental health. He developed bad anxiety. There was no way he was going to graduate on time. Then he stumbled on a way out (that by law CA schools are suppose to advise students of but my son’s didn’t). In CA there’s a test, the CHSPE, that they can take at 16 (or older) and after 10th grade. It only covers math and English and is equivalent to a HS diploma, but not necessarily equal (requiring more prerequisites) as far as getting into college or the military or some trade schools since it isn’t comprehensive. Check to see if there is something similar in AZ. Luckily my son passed the first time and bam, the nightmare was over. The path forward hasn’t been clear, but his self-confidence was so damaged that I’m being patient and believe he will right himself. I read kids with ADHD are a couple of years behind emotionally and I can see that with my son. But it’s not a race.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by Abthorn.
    • #89164

      I can relate to so many of the comments above. My son is 17 and going into Senior year. I do believe he’ll graduate, but barely. Is on an IEP and sees an interventionist, but they really don’t understand the executive functioning deficits with ADHD. They just keep making goals for him to be more organized, etc. Home school is not an option for me as a single mom. He’s a popular kid at school, kind of the class clown. He has been using marijuana for more than a year now, but even the school won’t take a hard stance on that. He has had and lost 2 jobs, because he’s just lazy. I offer to work with him to study and do homework but he regularly says he’s done it all in study hall. A lot of his bad grades are due to failure to turn in homework assignments – easy points if you just do the work. He plays sports, which actually helps him with his focus, but there’s no way he’ll get into any college.

      I’m feeling like he may just have to learn from natural consequences. So hard as a parent.

    • #93605

      Hello~ my son just began freshman year and has ADHD – primarily hyperactive. He is on 27 mg. Concerta. He is extremely smart so I hope he buckles down, because he has not had to much in the earlier years. I am wondering if your son would be interested in doing some service work, and/or designing independent studies (I realize he hasn’t been motivated) or if he could start apprenticing somewhere in a trade he is interested in. If any of this interests him, perhaps a plan of completion for high school could be drawn up with the school or district. It is not going to look typical, but your son isn’t “typical” and that is all ok. This is called differentiating! Perhaps if you and your son and someone (a mentor?) from the school or district or even a teacher he enjoyed when he was younger could serve as the liason or advisor, the district may go for this. He may not graduate with his class, but he is already on a different path. I wish you and him the best….I can imagine your exasperation.

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