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Fifteen-Year-Old Has Breakdown
Q: My 15-year-old son suffers from LD, ADD, and ODD with some depression. This year, due to his many absences and constant school troubles, I decided to quit my job and homeschool. It went okay for a couple of months and then he just couldn't handle it anymore. He never reads or writes. The only thing he does is type in a game chat room. He doesn't have the motivation to do anything but play video games and extreme bike.
He can't sleep at night and goes to sleep at 4 a.m. I've given up trying to wake him up and he ends up getting up close to 3 p.m. He won't listen or rather he doesn't hear what he doesn't want to. All he does is want, want, want. He isn't on medication since the neurologist wouldn't prescribe any unless he was in a "traditional school setting."
I had a wonderful, happy, well-behaved child up until three years ago when he just "broke down." I am so worried about him. Please help.
A: I am very concerned about the downward spiral you are describing. I certainly understand your good intentions and the sacrifices you have made to try to help your son, but he really needs to be working with professionals who are experienced with working with young people with similar needs. If the neurologist you took him to is not being responsive to you, call the toll-free number for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) at 1-800-233-4050 to get a referral for an evaluation in your area. CHADD has many branches throughout the United States. It would be helpful to talk with other parents who are experiencing similar issues with their children. Many chapters hold regular monthly meetings where parents can exchange concerns, information, and ideas with each other as well as with professionals in the field. You might also get some guidance there about placing your son in a more supportive school environment. You don't have to go through this all alone. Good luck!
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.