Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults
Experiences with Therapeutic Schools for teens with ADD & ODD
My son is 15, and was diagnosed with ADHD, General Anxiety Disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder last summer (several attempts at diagnosis when he was younger seemed like false starts).
We had a false start with Concerta, which seemed to simply amplify his anxiety. He has switched to Straterra, and is 4 weeks into that treatment. It seems to help a bit, and is not causing any negative side effects, but it’s no silver bullet. He’s also on Zoloft for his anxiety.
He attends social skills group therapy, and individual therapy (has been in therapy on and off for several years now, but is renewed given the recent diagnosis).
He’s had permissive parenting most of his life, unfortunately, and I was a bit late understanding the damage which that style of parenting can cause especially for a child with ADD. I’ve been learning and applying a much more authoritative parenting style over the past six months or so (boundaries, consequences, rewards, delivered calmly and with love). I’ve seen some good improvement in his behavior - he is far more respectful when with me, does homework (halfheartedly), and doesn’t interrupt. He also seems to feel a little bit better about himself.
But the progress seems to be far too little, too late. Despite a high IQ, he is failing all of his classes (low F’s) and can only briefly lift a grade to a D or C if I put in extraordinary effort encouraging and monitoring him, and then the grade falls back down. At school he refuses to work (passive/aggressive), questions rules and authority, has been suspended twice (getting in a fight and being overly aggressive with a student). He attempts to avoid any type of effort (physical, academic). He continues to lose friends. While at his mothers’ on weekends doesn’t do homework at all and the pervasive permissiveness seems to undo any positive changes from the week before. He belittles other kids at school, takes a victimnhood stance to life, has a sense of entitlement, and lately has talked positively about marijuana and drinking (though I feel fairly certain he has done neither).
It breaks my heart - at heart he is an intelligent, creative and caring child - but he is stuck in an ODD rut and just continues to dig in deeper. I’m very concerned for his future and feel like there is too little time to continue with the current mix of medication, therapy, and improved (if still inconsistent) parenting.
I’m seriously considering withdrawing him from his current (alternative) high school, and placing him in a residential therapeutic program for troubled teens. I’ve got a recommendation from a neighbor whose son had very heartening results, and I’m trying to determine if it is best for my son as well.
It seems to me that most parents treat these programs as a last resort - only going for them once their child has hit bottom. However - I’d prefer to catch it early and improve my son’s chances. I honestly don’t know what else I can do - I seem to be doing everything humanly possible to help him and have basically run out of runway and alternatives. I don’t see any alternatives to a residential program at this point - continuing the current mix and hoping for different results seems futile. My son’s future hangs in the balance.
I’m considering a program which has a mixture of physical, academic and psychological/CBT treatments. A goal is to help a child recover lost grades as well. It is not cheap, and is likely to take at least six months, though the average is more like a year.
Have you placed your ADD/ODD child in a residential program? When did you do so, and what were the results? Would you do it again? How do you prepare for it, or prepare your child for it? If you explored these treatment options and decided against it, why and what were your results with alternatives to residential treatment?
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