Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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We are thinking we need to jump the chain of command and talk to the Superintendent...

Hi Mark,

It's been awhile since I last wrote to you. Your help thus far has been wonderful and so appreciated.

When Last I wrote, Our oldest son (P___ 21) was still living at home, and our younger son (J___ 16) was having school problems and more.

P___ is now living in Flagstaff, working and taking college classes at Yavapai Community (on line) and a Summer Biology class at Coconino Community in Flag. He is planning to apply for the nursing program and getting his pre req classed done.

J___ is doing better, but we have some hurdles yet to overcome. As last school year was drawing to a close, he was failing two classes. We had allowed him to get his drivers license but was only able to drive with us in the car as we were looking into insurance et. He was told that if he did not pass all classes, he would only be allowed to drive to and from work this Summer. He really did not believe us until the final two weeks of school and then kicked into gear and managed to pass all classes.

So as P___'s move out date was close in Early June and J___ was out of school and ready to start driving, My Dad had a serious Fall with head Trauma in Phx. I was having a relapse of my MS (actually been in relapse since last Summer but was hoping it would go back into it's box again) I already had an appt with my Neuro at Barrows set up that week and had already had my MRI's completed. M___ (husband) and I headed down to Phx, leaving J___ In charge of the dogs and puppies. My Dad was in ICU for almost 3 weeks. I stayed down there with my Mom, spending our days and evenings at the hospital, I had a 3 day infusion of Steroids to tamp down my M.S. and decided to start a new Therapy Med, Tysabri, as my MS had progressed alot over the past year.

My Dad had to be moved to Hospice, where he passed away on June 21st. Then we had to plan, make and proceed with his arrangements and his memorial was on June 27th.

As you can imagine, we were unable to get insurance arrangements made at that time for J___ to be able to drive. He was at times understanding and other times, felt we were dragging our feet.... Over all J___ did a good job of holding down the fort while I was gone but did very little once Mike came home from work etc.

J___ is now driving and we are happy for that as is he. Next will be getting a job and hopefully a successful coming year. He will be a Junior this year.

P___ is doing well in Flagstaff so far and liking having his own apt. Not too sure how things will continue to progress as he is still in the mind set of getting financial aid or loans to support himself and go to school full time. We are open to other options, but are waiting to see how he figures things out on his own and talk other options when and if the time comes. I will most likely be seeking your advise on this in the near future.

I'm sorry for the long e-mail.... But here is where we are now.

Focusing on J___..... We have made him responsible for 1/3 of his insurance and totally responsible for his cell phone… this alone will lead to his need for a job, so we are comfortable with that aspect of his life at this point.

We went to his school for registration yesterday. J___ is not strong in Math abilities and last year was failing Geometry and after much fighting with the school, was put in Math fundamentals. He has to have one more math credit to graduate. The schools stance is that he has to take Geometry and won't budge at this point. He has passed his AIMS test in Math, although he failed the algebra and Geometry portion, has met the state requirement to graduate. To make matters tougher... his school has adopted a grading scale that makes C the lowest passing grade.

His school Councilor and I have a real conflict and a meeting with her, always turns out with her treating me like an irresponsible Parent that only wants to give J___ the easy road thru school. They want to see him "challenged" … little do they understand that he is challenged and what we want is to see him succeed and graduate and if he needs higher math in the future, he will at that time be more mature and focused to achieve it. At this point he wants to be a Fireman and wants to start taking his fire science classes next year while he is finishing up high school.

We have seen much improvement in his attitude (not perfect) and plan to continue to follow your advise that school is his job and hold to the consequences that if he fails classes, his driving will be restricted to work transport only. I do feel that it is up to me to help in getting his schedule worked out to make this achievable, am I wrong here?

I would like to hear your advice before I proceed with the school. We are thinking we need to jump the chain of command and talk to the Superintendent, who is a reasonable man VS the principal who is not.

We want J___ to succeed and his schedule minus the Geometry is going to be a real challenge as he will be working also. They do offer a Business Math class but say the pre reqs are Algebra and Geometry and not an easy class but I think will offer at least math that is geared towards life skills that he will need.

I'm sorry if I have rambled on... I look forward to hearing from you. If all this sounds jumbled, that is just how life is feeling for me :)

Thank you Mark,


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Hi A.,

Re: I do feel that it is up to me to help in getting his schedule worked out to make this achievable, am I wrong here?

Wrong? Probably not. Will you be effective? Probably not. So the question now becomes, “How much time and energy do you put into this?

If he has met the state requirement to graduate, then you may want to let go of it.

You would want me to be honest here – so I will. This sounds too much like you taking on too much responsibility, which has probably contributed to the problem at some level.

Bottom line: I think your son received a natural consequence for not going the extra mile (e.g., not getting a tutor, doing extra homework, etc.). If he wants it -- he’ll get it!

You can go to the Superintendent and try to work that angle, but this may send the wrong message to your son (e.g., “If you don’t get what you want, then play politics and try to manipulate the system”).


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