Private Schools for ADHD?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Penny Williams 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #125382



    I know there is a list on ADDitude of schools that specifically cater to ADHD kids. My 12-year-old son starts 7th grade in a week. The last two years have been rocky, to say the least. He has ADHD and most likely ODD, and he’s mildly gifted. We chose what is supposed to be a top-notch public school in Pennsylvania only to find that their special education program is rather archaic, especially in middle school.

    He’ll be starting at the same school this year, but I’m trying to prepare myself for a worst-case scenario. Last year he received a couple of ISS for fighting (after being provoked). He was forbidden from attending the overnight sixth grade camp because the school was concerned for his safety (i.e., elopement as there are no security guards).

    He’s not a bad kid at heart but if he’s not constantly engaged in a structured environment, he leans towards making bad choices and choosing friends that are “shady.” Does anyone know of a residential school in PA or the East Coast that accepts boys like this. I know there are therapeutic programs, but he’s not that extreme. Does anyone know if it’s possible to get any kind of financial assistance or medical coverage at any schools even if we’re from a higher-income family?

    Also, as an fyi, we’ve probably had one of the best summers ever. However, earlier this week, I took him to a new therapist for group therapy for social skills and emotional regulation management. At the intake, he told the therapist that I physically and mentally abuse him. Mind you he was extremely resistant to go to this new therapist because “therapy has never worked in the past.” And he was afraid of “wasting the rest of his summer; the summer is almost over.” The abuse accusation was related to a couple of instances where I literally had to pry his phone or game controller out of his hands because he wasn’t doing what needed to be done (leaving to go to appointments, bedtime, etc.).

    He’s increasingly disrespectful to me and now outside teachers and strangers. Our hearts are breaking. Any advice you may have is welcome. Thank you so much!

  • #125438


    If I lived in your area I would have my son attend the ADHD Dude summer camp. Ryan Wexleblatt has explained so many things about boys with ADHD that made a huge improvement in our relationship and my son’s social skills.

    Hang in there, and you are doing a fantastic job!

  • #125488

    Penny Williams

    I’m going to be honest and real with you on this.

    I will first challenge you to change your mindset about ADHD and your son’s behavior. Behavior is communication — it’s a symptom of something else, an underlying challenge or struggle. Your son likely isn’t disrespecting you, even when it feels like he is, because he likely doesn’t have that intent most of the time. True disrespect requires intent. But using that language to describe this behavior keeps you in the mindset that he has control over this action and is intentionally disrespectful.

    Your child is having a hard time, not giving you a hard time. Once you accept and believe this, a monumental shift in the right direction will take place.

    Your Child Is Not Giving You a Hard Time. Your Child Is Having a Hard Time.

    Your post feels very much like you’re still trying to make him fit the neurotypical mold and have neurotypical expectations for him. As long as that is the case, you will remain disappointed and frustrated and he will continue to not be able to meet your expectations.

    There’s always some truth to what our kids say. While the literal interpretation of you abusing him is false, he says this to communicate how he feels.

    The Boy Who Cried Wolf: My ADHD Son’s Lying

    The SOAR Academy in NC is awesome! I think the starting age is older though.

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

  • #125537


    Thank you so much for your feedback and advice! I’m trying so hard to have a lens change. I’ve read Ross Greene’s “The Explosive Child” and I’m listening to his other book “Lost at School.” I’ll look into both the ADHD Dude Camp and the SOAR School. And I’ll read the articles Penny shared next. Penny, your book, “Boy Without Instructions” is waiting in my reading cue on iBooks. I will be breaking that open again shortly as well. Now if we can get the school to use the same approach, that will be key.

    • #125648

      Penny Williams

      Honored that you’re reading my book. Our lives have improved exponentially since the time I share in “Boy Without Instructions.”

      You’re definitely on the right track. Everything I coach parents on is based off Ross Greene’s approach. That’s the foundation. Then, changing your mindset is the crucial next step.

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

  • #127216



    Just a quick update. Today was the end of the first two weeks at my son’s middle school. Unfortunately, a kid in his class has been picking on him since the beginning of the school year–kicking him, calling him names, etc. After a difficult day at home last night (he got into a huge argument with his younger sibling; my husband got angry; I encouraged him to walk away; we ended up in a huge argument ending in both of us bringing up the “D” word, me crying until I almost vomited), he was likely at his wits end and ended up punching the kid and then scratching a teacher who was trying to intervene. We won’t know until Monday what the outcome is with school. I’m researching SOAR next. And wishing I could find a great ADHD Coach or Advocate before our IEP meeting in two weeks.

    My husband and I are at our wits end and heartbroken. We so desperately want to do the right thing and find the right approach. This area is lacking Behavior Parent Training. Also lacking anyone who could guide us through Ross Greene’s approach. We don’t feel like we can do it without assistance. We likely need family therapy and I’m guessing individual therapy for the siblings and our ADHD son if he’ll attend. We’re considering trying medication for him again if he’ll take it. Also, does anyone know if genetic testing is offered or works for helping to “hone in” on the correct or best medication?

    Praying that this family can make it through this… TIA for any additional advice. So sad and confused.

  • #127257

    Penny Williams

    The genetic testing only looks at a fraction of the items that determine if a medication is right for an individual. Effective ADHD medication treatment depends on the individuals neurochemistry needs, metabolism, and genetics. The genetic testing you’re referring to tests a small number of potential genetic issues with a dozen or so medications. My son had had many severe reactions to SSRIs and amphetamine-based stimulants when these tests came on the market. We do two different ones and both came back that there were zero issues with any of them. The reason being that the 4-5 genetic polymorphisms they test for were not the cause of his bad reaction to some medications. These tests are helpful to tell you which medications to avoid, if your child has one of the tested genetic abnormalities. That’s it. One of the original companies pulled their test off the market when the FDA cracked down on their marketing promises — they knew it wouldn’t be a profitable product for them if they couldn’t tell people it was the way to know which medications will work for someone.

    Harmonyx Releases New Genetic Test for ADHD Meds

    I am a huge fan of Ross Greene’s work. It’s the foundation of the training I do with parents. It’s really a very effective approach, but schools aren’t implementing it (unless you live in Maine where Greene does). Your son’s school has to look at his behavior differently. It’s not a “bad kid” or “bad behavior” and he doesn’t intend to hurt anyone. The behavior is just a symptom. Request, in writing, an FBA: Functional Behavior Assessment. Done right, this process will help teachers and administrators determine what’s causing him to lash out.

    5 School Assessments Your Child May Be Entitled To

    With gratitude,

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