15 Yr Old Son: 1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back


New Member
Hi, all. This is my first time posting. I appreciate any insight or just sharing of your own experiences.

This is a LONG post.

Diagnosis Backstory: My 15 yr old son has a couple of current diagnoses, depending on the doctor. He saw a psychologist over the summer who did a full assessment and diagnosed him with ODD, with some possible antisocial traits.

He then began seeing a children's psychiatrist as well. I already had this in the works as I'd had my son on a waiting list to get in before starting with the psychologist for therapy, but the psychologist also recommended he see a psychiatrist for possible medication.

The psychiatrist diagnosed him with ADHD (something I've strongly suspected since he was small), trying to rule out ODD as well as other conduct disorders. The reason he was trying to rule out ODD is because my son is typically well mannered, pleasant, and stable in the home environment. He's a teenager, so of course there is some exception, but by and large his behavioral issues occur at school. They have, however, in the past year also begun to show themselves in sports settings, to the point that he hasn't been able to stay on his sports teams.

Very importantly, also a high probability of bipolar. We have a very strong genetic link on my mother's side and his biological father also has BiPolar (BP), as well as his oldest brother.

Behavior & home background: The issues at school go back to elementary, beginning maybe around 2nd grade. He would be defiant almost just for the point of being defiant. He would escalate situations to the point of running out of the school. He was in trouble a lot and even suspended a few times. He was not so much getting into fights with other students or violent, just general defiance and non-compliance. I did not know anything about IEPs, 504s, or Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) and no one at the school discussed it with me. His 5th grade year was better, because he was in a program to mentor pre-k students with learning challenges and flourished in that environment. He did pretty well that year.

I was working to get him help with therapy and a diagnosis, but it was very difficult due to him being on state insurance at the time. The counselors were unfortunately never very effective, and any diagnoses always seemed very tentative. He did have a tentative diagnosis for ODD at that time.

From the age of around 4-5 years old through about 12, he would, every once in a while, have a major meltdown at home over something fairly small or even seemingly non-existant. It would often start with him becoming extremely frustrated over something - it could be discipline related or not. When he'd have these meltdowns, he would be inconsolable and may say things like "you want to kill me!" or suggest he wanted to hurt himself. He once screamed that I was a terrorist trying to kidnap him in the parking lot of pee-wee football practice when he suddenly did not want to practice that day. When he was about 12, he had a meltdown and screamed that I was a prostitute that just had sex all the time. Looking back, it's funny. I mean, it's not, because I absolutely broke my heart to see him hurting and struggling like that, but as many of you know, when things calm down, you have to laugh to get through it.

As I mentioned, the meltdowns were not very frequent - maybe once a month at the very height, down to a few times a year as he got older. They eventually just sort of stopped happening for the most part - either with him getting older or my change in parenting style, or a combination of both. I have learned how to help calm him from the time he was very small. I give him his space, I speak softly, I make sure he knows I am there to help him, I don't let anything he says escalate the situation - all the things most of us have learned to do for our dear children who struggle like this.

For the most part, my son has been a kind and loving child at home. Of course, he's had his moments, but I feel we have a good relationship and we have a pretty calm home environment. He has typically been obedient and respectful at home. I have not often had issues with him in the home environment. School, as I said, has been a different issue.

I had separated from his biological father when he was only 1 yr old, and later divorced. His bio father was abusive and my son has never had a relationship with him. I've tried to be open with him just to always make sure he knows he was loved and nothing was his fault. The truth his, his bio father is just not a good guy, as some people just aren't, and it wasn't safe for him to be in my childrens' lives. I know despite this, there would always still be a longing and confusion of my son for the place of his father in his life.

We moved to another city in 2015, the summer before he was going to start Jr. High, and created a new home with my then fiance, how husband and stepfather to my older children. He is everything I could have every prayed for in a father figure for my children, plus a lot more. He is calm and grounded, responsible, amazing work ethic and responsible provider, very soft spoken, not easily rattled. While this was a very positive blessing in our lives, I know change is hard for my son, and regardless, he will have his own feelings and issues around the concept of a father and HIS father.

In middle school, the issues just got worse. He was constantly in detention, ISS, or out of school suspension. At one point, he had a meltdown in the hallway after a disciplinary issue with a teacher and basically destroyed his school tablet (provided by the school) by smashing it repeatedly into the floor. He did not involve anyone else, but the school did file charges on him for destruction of school property. They had an officer come on campus to arrest him a day or two later, and was sent to the alternative school. We dealt with the charge through a program for juvenile first offenders and avoided the court system (if you can call that avoiding the court system), so the actual charge was never filed with the court. I'll save my thoughts on this for another post, or another comment perhaps.

Through all the phone calls and meetings, through all my requests for resources, for helpful programming, for assistance, they never once mentioned an IEP, 504, or BIP. Granted, he did not have a recent confirmed diagnosis at this time. But it was in the process - I had much better health insurance by this point and was working on getting him access to better treatment in our new city.

Putting him into a different school hasn't really been much of an option. Although we have a good combined income, private schools in our area still are financially practical for us at this time. And he would need a private school to address his specific issues. Intellectually, he is above average for the most part (even though his grades are mostly horrible the past couple of years), and the charter schools nearby don't seem acceptable academically. I work full time with a long commute in order to keep a higher salary, and my husband works afternoon to late evening, so home schooling has not really been a possibility either.

He is now in 9th grade. The issues with non-compliance and defiance with teachers has continued. At one point, I was getting calls at least a few times a week, if not every day or every other day. The difference is, the high school has resources and are doing everything they can to work with me and with my son. They are aware of both his ADHD diagnosis with his psychiatrist and his ODD diagnosis with his psychologist, as well as other possible diagnoses they are trying to rule out/in. He now has a 504 plan with a BIP. I do not know if he will be able to stay in the traditional school setting, but we are certainly trying our best. There may be a possibility of him attending an alternate high school in our school district at some point (not alternate in terms of behavior, but more for non-traditional students) that would possibly be good for him as it's smaller and a different structure, but they don't consider students until after they have completed one full year of high school. I'm also not sure if they would consider him with his disciplinary history, though his current counselor felt it may be a viable option if things don't improve (she's familiar with the school and would have to make a recommendation). She's been AMAZINGLY SUPPORTIVE.

He also has a couple of teachers that are total cheerleaders for him - adore him and see so much good in him. For others, once he develops an oppositional relationship, it's like GAME OVER. It's very hard for him to come back from that and have a compliant relationship with them.

I have made appointments for him to see a new therapist that another parent recommended, but he refused to go a few weeks ago right when it was time for us to leave for the appointment. I had discussed it with him in advance and I didn't think it would be an issue. The therapy aspect is extremely frustrating because, going back to him being much younger, they would either see him for months then I'd realize they didn't even know his name, wouldn't ever talk to him without me in the room, would say he seems to be doing well and they can just discontinue for now, would tell me to go see another type of specialist and they would pick back up with him down the road, etc. It's incredibly frustrating! Some of them have been very kind and I know they have good intentions, but they're never even scratching the surface! So it was very disappointing to me when he refused to go recently. I made a second appointment and the dr's office ended up calling to reschedule it. Truthfully, it seemed at that point my son still wasn't going to agree to go, so I didn't bother rescheduling. I knew he had a follow up with his psychiatrist at the end of this month so I figured I would talk to him about the issue. I also offered to try to find someone who does tele-therapy, if my son would agree to try that instead. He didn't say yes but he didn't say no. It's all still up in the air, which causes me a lot of anxiety.

MEDICATION: So here we are. Going back to this past summer, his psychiatrist, after diagnosing him with ADHD, decided to try him on Intuniv. He started with 1 mg, followed soon after by 2mg a day. The efficacy was hard to gauge accurately at home, as we didn't have any big issues there for the most part. School started and before long, he was getting into plenty of trouble again and we didn't see any real improvement. He was going to agree to move him up to 3mg, but with some reservations because of side effects. But instead, due to the nature of his explosive outbursts at school, he decided to try him on Depakote. I was concerned, but I 1). do my research; 2) trust my doctor; and 3) try to keep keep an open mind in terms of what may actually help my son. We titrated up very slowly to 750mg a day, so the side effects he did have (fatigue and some stomach upset) usually passed after a couple of days, although he is usually at least a little tired on it. We had briefly gone up to 1000mg a day (half in a.m., half in p.m.) but his psychiatrist quickly took him back down to 750mg as he had issues with loss of appetite and severe fatigue on the first couple of days.

We had the longest streak of no calls from school in the past few weeks - I think we made it about 2 weeks. He was still having some issues here and there, but there was a definite improvement. When I met with his teachers recently for the 504 plan meeting, most of them said that he had been a different kid in the past couple of weeks. He was tired a lot in class, but his behavior was much better and one or two even commented that his focus was better.

Then today, really the whole week probably, we're back at it. He cussed a teacher for all his worth today and threatened that he'd put his hands on him were he not a teacher. This started because the teacher apparently has a new policy of all backpacks and phones must be left at front of class at the start of class. My son refused to comply and it ended with him cussing the teacher out and leaving the class, saying threatening things to the teacher once they were in the hallway.

The school now has to determine if the teacher followed the BIP laid out in the 504, as this is one of the teachers that did not attend the 504 meeting (he didn't say why, just sent an email basically saying "can't make it"). He was supposed to follow up with me to go over the plan after the meeting, but never did. All that said, I hold my son completely responsible for the level of escalation he took this to today. Still, they have to review everything before they determine was his punishment will be. I asked his Assistant Principal (also very supportive!) what the range on it could be as I was concerned about the fact that my son threatened physical harm to him, and she only mention in or out of school suspension. My main concern was if police could become involved. She did not mention it, so I'm hoping that won't be an issue.

I know this is so long. I just feel like it's so important to give backstory and so many details are important.

I don't even know what I'm asking. I guess I just want to hear from anyone who can relate, get any advice you may have or learn something from your own experience.

I'm sure there's info that would be helpful that I haven't included. I need to get ready to leave work soon so really need to wrap this up. If you're even still reading at this point, please know I'm hugging you across the miles!


Well-Known Member
Ifpo, I don’t have a lot of specific advice for you right now, but just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. It sounds like you are doing a lot of things right! Kudos for holding him accountable while also working to get him a diagnosis, medications and supports. It sounds like maybe you’re on the right track. I think occasional setbacks are to be expected with this kind of thing. But you had a good couple weeks on the new medications - perhaps that is reason to hope you’re on the right track?

I’m so glad that you have a supportive partner and the school is working with you. Sending you hugs and hoping that this is just a temporary setback and he’ll get back to making progress again.


Well-Known Member
They are aware of both his ADHD diagnosis with his psychiatrist and his ODD
Your son has more than enough documentation to get on an IEP with special education protections. 504 does not one thing. They can expel/suspend him easily for any behaviors. With an IEP they cannot, if the behaviors are related to the qualifying condition.

They do not tell you because it is not in their interests. It costs money and work. But most of all it makes them legally accountable and responsible to actually educate your son, and to address what gets into the way. How preferable it is to call the police on your son or call you at home or at work, scapegoating him and blaming you.

There are advocates that will go with you to the IEPs. This is a necessary first step. There are a lot of mothers here who can coach you on what to do. I would today or tomorrow go to school and in writing, on a dated piece of paper request an immediate, emergency IEP, and request evaluation by the school psychologist. Get a date stamped copy of the letter that you submit. They are obligated to meet within a specified time. I forget how long. My son was on an IEP for 12 years based only upon ADHD under the category "other health impaired."

These are real pluses:
He also has a couple of teachers that are total cheerleaders for him
current counselor

The thing is this. You will not know really what is going on until it is full blown or it resolves, with maturity. It sounds to me like you have done things PERFECTLY, you responded to him just exactly right. Every kid will have a fit and make off the wall statements. And if they don't, there is something. Hidden. Which is worse, in my book. You can't go freaking out. You didn't then. And you aren't now.

I am glad you are here. You will get a lot of information and support. And posting will help you see what you really think and feel....that is what has helped me. I was able to put down on paper so to speak the reality of what I was feeling, and then go from there.

Take care. Take time for you. This is not your fault. Not even 1 percent of it.

Meanwhile. After you write and bring the letter, call the doctor who is prescribing the medication and overseeing the treatment, and ask her or him to write a letter with your child's diagnoses. Based upon my experience with my son, even the medication bottles would be enough to meet special education criteria. They prove he is being treated for a psychiatric condition. End of story.

I was always sensitive about labeling and preferred the "other health impaired" category than mental illness. In retrospect this was foolishness on my part I think.
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Well-Known Member
He sounds difficult and complicated and I am sorry. My only tidbit is to maybe call your state Dept. Of Public Education, usually located in the state capital. Although no school district tells you this, every single area in town has a totally FREE child/parent advocate and a good one is golden in getting things to move fast and change for the better.

Our advocate had taken a school district to court and won so our school feared tondefy her and literally agreed to do everything we wanted for him and he quickly got much improved services in school and his performance soared. He was not a behavior problem but advocates work for ALL kids with school problems. Even behavioral.

Just call your DPI and ask for the head of Special Needs children. You will be listened to and given the name of the advocate in your area. I felt for the first time that I was being heard in behalf of my precious son.

Will it cure your kid? Probably not, but he will get the absolute best free and appropriate public education that fits him. And he will get sn aide if he needs one and other accomodations. This really made a huge difference with my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son. Hebis 25 now and living an independent practically normal life thanks to the interventions he was given to help him.

I hope this gives you another path to pursue.

Love and light.
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Tired out

Well-Known Member
Unless things have changed since my 28 year old had an IEP : When you go to the head special education if they give you any argument about the evaluation tell them you are calling an attorney and taking them to "due process". then your right is also to have independent evaluations at the schools expense. it is all educationally necessary. Educationally necessary and due process were the buzz words. They have to provide a free and appropriate education--federal law. What is appropriate for Joe may not be appropriate for Jane.

Anyone here up on the current Federal laws for public school?
It drove me crazy when we moved to a new state and they didn't think they had to follow my sons IEP....


New Member
Ifpo, I don’t have a lot of specific advice for you right now, but just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. It sounds like you are doing a lot of things right! Kudos for holding him accountable while also working to get him a diagnosis, medications and supports. It sounds like maybe you’re on the right track. I think occasional setbacks are to be expected with this kind of thing. But you had a good couple weeks on the new medications - perhaps that is reason to hope you’re on the right track?

I’m so glad that you have a supportive partner and the school is working with you. Sending you hugs and hoping that this is just a temporary setback and he’ll get back to making progress again.

Thank you so much - that really means a lot! Today is another stressful day. He had ISS for tardies (hasn't even started on whatever discipline he'll receive for cussing out his teacher) and as usual, couldn't make it through even half the day in there before being sent out. The hugs are greatly appreciated.

Baggy Bags

Active Member
Hugs back atcha, momma. Sounds like you're doing all the right things, you got some good people on your side, and the desire to help your son comes across so strongly in every word you write.

Sorry you have to be here, but glad you found us. Lots of helpful, supportive people who know what it's like.


New Member
Thank you SO MUCH to everyone for your replies, thoughts, support, and advice! I started replying to each of you individually but realized my follow up would be applicable to most of the comments here.

My son has an extremely supportive school counselor and we've discussed the special education/IEP thing in depth. The thought was that we would start with the 504 since it was easier to put into place and he had just started medication, then get all our ducks in a row for the IEP process in the event the behavior was not improving with the medication and BIP in place. Since the 504 was approved, I've been able to get the counselor documentation of his ODD diagnosis from his psychologist (even though his psychiatrist hasn't confirmed an ODD diagnosis, his psychologist that saw him first did feel this was the primary diagnosis), which she said would be extremely helpful in pushing the IEP through so that he could get inclusive special education accommodations. She did also forewarn me about the complexities in getting an IEP, as well as the pros and cons to it compared to the 504. However, she felt that having his ODD diagnosis in writing, in addition to his ADHD diagnosis, would really help push it through if that's what we need to do.

As of this morning, he's already been sent out of ISS, which he had for tardies. He constantly gets tardies every single week, and has since middle school. The AP tried to work with him this last time to give him the option of a 4 hour Saturday school for the tardies as opposed to full day of ISS, but we were going to be out of town this weekend so he had to take the full day ISS today. He has an op positional relationship with the ISS monitor due to previous issues with her, so I don't think he'll ever make it through the day without getting sent out.

This is in addition to the fact that he hasn't even received his discipline yet for cussing out the teacher yesterday. I'm still waiting to hear back on that.

When he texted me this morning that he'd been sent out of ISS, he asked for me to have them send him to the Annex. That's the alternative school for kids with serious school violations. The minimum assignment is 30 days, but you have to have a major infraction to get sent there. He went in 7th grade when he destroyed his school tablet. He told me this morning that if he goes there, he'll be away from certain people and his grades will go up. I don't think they can just have him go because he's asking to, but honestly, I'd rather him be there and get all the discipline done, try to get things stable, and return. I don't see how he's going to pass several of his classes at this point. He's out of the class environment so much for discipline/ISS, which he doesn't even get through before being sent to the office. The past two weeks had been better, but even then, he's tired in class and doesn't get a lot of work done. His issues with focus and concentration related to the ADHD haven't really been addressed yet, as we've been trying to get the behavioral/mood issues stabilized first.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

You sound like a wonderful mother!!! Your son is so very, very lucky to have you as a mom. I don't know anything about his diagnosis, but just wanted to say that to you.

However, I was a registrar at a high school for a few years and when we got a request from a parent for IEP testing it was taken very seriously and in a timely fashion!! I was also on the team that decided if a student was accepted into the IEP program or not, or given some other type of alternatives.

They were very professional so maybe it depends on what school district you are in.

Good luck and keep posting. You will get lots of love and support!


New Member
You have warmed my heart on another tough day. Thank you so, so much for your kindness and support. This is why I came here - I can't put into words how much it means to me! I truly want to find a group local to me that maybe I could meet in person with to vent and commiserate with!
Honestly, I feel like my son's high school takes the process very seriously as well, and is very earnest about it. I can't overstate how supported I feel by his counselor. They have a behavior specialist, an assistant principal, a crisis specialist, and his counselor all working with me - in addition to an overall great and extremely caring team of teachers. I'm so grateful for the insight of someone like yourself who was on the inside of the process!
As a registrar, did you see a lot of students with issues like my son's? I always feel like it's just us, or just him that is going through this at the school. I know that's not really the case, they just can't share other students' personal experiences with me to make me feel better! But it does feel lonely. :(


New Member
OMG Y'ALL ARE GONNA MAKE ME CRY AT MY DESK!!! Thank you for being so loving and, honestly, just for telling me I'm doing the right things! Sometimes, I swear, you just really need to hear that! I do love him SO much. I know we all struggle with knowing if we are making the right choices for them, to the extent that we can make them. You all are amazing, beautiful people. Go on with your day knowing you made a difference in mine!


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I heard some crazy stories in that room let me tell you. That was before my son's addiction started so at that time I was a "virgin" if you will, to anything than the normal life I had known with then very normal, mainstreamed sons. Maybe that was God's way of preparing me for what was to come....

I would say that if I was in the room hearing your story, my vote would definitely be for an IEP placement. I cannot see how he could be refused. My advice is put it in writing to the school superintendent. That got things moving real fast in my district....

Good luck.


Active Member
Ifpo, I read your post and your story is so very close to the struggle we have had with our son. However, he acted out only at home but was pretty detached and quiet at school. At 15, things were at their worst and he is now 19. You are doing things right and so many here have posted excellent advice. In looking back over the past several years, we did so many interventions and things to help him but the ONE THING that was absolutely 100% a life changer was getting a 504 in place for him. That was not easy as he was never a problem at school. His official diagnosis was adhd and anxiety and we had to pay his psychiatrist $200 to write a letter detailing this in order to get the ball rolling. Once we had that, things changed. I did try hard to get an IEP but they refused, saying his diagnosis didn't warrant that. I will spare you all the details of hell we went through over the high school years but that 504 was the one thing that forced the school and teachers to be flexible and get him to graduation. The Wrights Law website was a great resource for me during that time. Wrightslaw is a website about special education law and advocacy with thousands of articles, cases, and free resources. I found an article there that helped me know exactly what to say during the meeting when met with resistance. Good luck to you and keep doing exactly what you are doing!


New Member
Thank you SO much! So many of these comments give me great hope. I don't know how things will turn out, but I do know hands down, without a doubt, the support team we have at the school is making such a difference. A great example is yesterday - as I mentioned in my other comment, my son had ISS from tardies. This always seems to me to be a set-up, because I almost know for sure he won't get through it. Sure enough, he got sent out within first couple of hours because she said he was looking at his phone (he said he wasn't - I don't know). The AP took him to the office and the whole team rallied around my son. The counselor spoke with him, his math teacher took him under her wing and kept him in her class part of the day (she's his number 1 teacher advocate), other teachers got him the work he was behind on, they got him water and popcorn to 'wake him up' (he gets very tired throughout the day from the depakote), and they even took him to a teacher luncheon so he could eat, then got him back on task with work. They completely helped him turn around a really shitty morning, and he worked really hard! They helped him get almost completely caught up on classwork due by this Friday - he is going to actually pass a couple of classes he may have failed because of their efforts! This is all a part of the 504 he is on. Granted, he is suspended this Friday for cussing his teacher out. I'm not sure I'm 100% on board with an out of school suspension for that, BUT I definitely didn't want in school suspension and he absolutely has to have consequences, so I don't know how it could be improved upon.Truth be told, I probably prefer that outcome just so he can get the punishment over with...I don't necessarily think he will learn anything from it, but I can work with that on my end when I'm home with him to make sure he is working all day...my main concern is all the time he misses from class instruction due to these issues.

I'm really taking all this advice to heart! I'm going to check out that website because it is plausible that he could need the IEP, with the resources it would make available to him in the classroom and with regard to disciplinary issues. I do have concerns, however, that if he feels singled out (even with it being "inclusive"), it could make it worse.

I could go on and on. I just appreciate all of you so much. I feel so supported. There are lots of horror stories here, and my heart goes out to every single person still struggling and heart broken. I send hope and love and prayers for wellbeing to each and every one. That said, it is very encouraging to hear the positive outcomes.


Well-Known Member
Granted, he is suspended this Friday for cussing his teacher out.
if he feels singled out
You are hesitant to have him singled out. And it seems right now he is singled out as a behavior problem, to be disciplined.

I understand that right now you feel gratitude for the special attention and help that your son is receiving from the counselor and teachers. I might have anxiety that they would get mad and withhold this caring, if I insisted upon the legal protections to which he is entitled by law. But this is exactly the point.

What is unacknowledged here is the power dynamic. Right now the school holds all of the power. In a second, they can decide to both withhold support and to punish swiftly. In fact, that has already started.

The caring they are demonstrating, should be genuine, not contingent upon your son receiving legally mandated services, or not. But most of all the support that your son receives should be determined by his needs, not the whims of others.

The very first thing I would do is get him special education protections. You would be surprised how many kids get assistance. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

Of course things will work themselves out or not with 504. However, I would not want to be dependent upon these teachers' largesse. But that is me. You see. They are not in complete control. There can be administrative decisions. Based upon resource allocation or other things. Their hands can be tied. Not so with an IEP.

I know I was too suspicious, not enough trusting, perhaps too adversarial. Some of that is individual differences. I learned as well from experience. I hope that yours is different.
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Well-Known Member
The reason he was trying to rule out ODD is because my son is typically well mannered, pleasant, and stable in the home environment.
My son had this dichotomy too. Exactly as you describe. We had a rich and loving home life, and he was a compliant child at home. Until he began to act up at around 15 but it was not serious.

My son was diagnosed as ADHD in response to his behavior in preschool actually. (There were way more things going on with him due to his early history, than with your son.) In retrospect I think that a lot of what looked like ADHD was anxiety. He would get anxious in school. There was never ever any desire to act out or to non-conform, but he would be triggered, and lack the resources to calm himself. When he was placed in a more structured and safe environment, he was able to contain his behavior and the acting out stopped. The thing is that the school district fought us and eventually won, and we lost that placement. What these kids often need is quite expensive for the school district. But my son got the services he needed for a time. And when we lost them we left that district.

I guess what I am saying is that there is merit to your desire to work with the school as long as they are working with you. There are risks either way. I do understand. What I could not stand is my son being scapegoated, when I knew he could not do better without help. Help to which he was legitimately entitled.

You see some of these so-called diagnoses like ODD or even ADHD are labels that are given to classify and describe behaviors. They have nothing at all to do with what is going on internally with these kids. The same behaviors can be motivated by vastly different internal dynamics. I would bet that your son has little or no oppositional or defiance in him, beyond the normal degree of a child of that age. But he is propelled by his feelings to be triggered in certain ways and it is experienced and described by the adults as being oppositional or defiant. In this sense the diagnosis is in THEM, about them, not him.

He may be anxious. He may be sensitive. He may need more of a container, more support due to sensitivity, more structure, etc. He may for reasons yet known become overstimulated. None of these things should be treated by disciplining him. Of course bad behavior should not be tolerated. But at what point is the intervention? Before the behavior happens or after.
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Well-Known Member
I had a better school experience for my autistic son. We were in control, not the school. We got an advocate and you bet my son got an IEP and the school was afraid of our advocate and I fear me too lol. We picked a school for him, fought for ir and they had to send him in a cab. It was a public school but a great fit. He had stopped learning. In that school where he was in soecial ed for reading and math, he became a leader in that class and his kind demeaner made everyone like him. He was one of a very few black kids in the school but he still was accepted pretty well. By middle school he was no longer in Special Education but he was given supports when he needed them. It worked great.

All my kids were always treated extremely well even though I was not a favorite mom. But I was a mom who would take legal action and they neither wanted that publicity or to pay for it. Everyone is entitled to a free Advocate through the department of public education but school districts never tell you. Even the ones you think are nice withhold this from you. I did not hear about it at my kids school. No way.

They dont want advocates because they sit in on meetings with you, know the law, and wont let the schools pull any bs.

A 504 is not legal. An IEP is. We demanded an IEP and got it. And boy is my son doing well as an adult with autism and I swear it is mostly because the school did a dance to get him every service available and he just burst with his potential once the help was offered him.

Being afraid the school wont be nice to your kid if you push them is nonsense. They love scared parents. They can give your kid less than they need and run the show and the parents are afraid and grateful for crumbs.

I dont know about it being bad for a child to get attention/singled out. Any kid who has a learning difference or a behavior problem gets singled out.
It cant be avoided especially if the kid is a behavior problem. The kids all see it and of couse the misbehaving kid is singled out the most by his peers. In our school if one was in a fight, the cops would visit. The kids know and see who is, in their teen eyes, different.

My son started out in Special Education and nobody picked on him. He had friends. He was not a behavior problem but he was different (shrug).

Everyone has to do what they are comfortable doing for their kids. I had no fear of anyone when it came to getting the help I felt was best for my kid.

I should say kids. My daughter couldnt read until 8. She had a severe reading disability. She struggled in school but tried very hard. Got her an IEP too and now she just finished two years of Law Enforcement in College, works in Corrections and is going to finish her degree. She was in Special Education early on but it never stopped her. She was always very well likedland had iktons of fruends. In high school she was very popular, a sports star, and Homecoming Queen and now she is engaged to a wonderful young man.

One day in her senior year of high school my daughter came home laughing and said she was talking to her old Special Education teacher and she told her "There are probably ten teachers who never want to talk to your Mom again!"

We both laughed. Daughter was graduating, had almost made the honor roll and had good self esteem. The Principal of her high school loved her and both my husband and I got along great with HIM, but not because we didnt ever put pressure on him. Somehow we had HIS respect.

He retired and Daughter still texts him and sees him around and he told her "Your parents werent popular but they made sure we had your back all the way." (Not his exact words...I forget...but he meant that or close to it).

Both of these kids are now exceptional young adults who overcame obstacles and are doing so well.

I only have my story to tell. Everyones varies. Due to my own exoerience this is how I feel. I believe an Advocate or lawyer if necessary is very worthwhile to get kids with special needs or differences the max help so they have the max chance to reach their potential. 18 is too late.

Being too afraid to make waves has its own consequences. No matter what anyone who works at the school may tell you, the schools are NOT in business to help your kid as much as YOU want them too. They want to save money and not be on the hook legally. And nobody wants to do special tests etc. for your kid...they are not all folliwing FAPE. Just a fact. Most parents are afraid to mess with the school. Most never even learn about Advocates.

For anyone who is posting or just lurking, to get a free school advocate, call your State Dept. of Public Education, ask for the Special Needs Dept, then find out who your advocate is. Like all, some are better than others but it is worth it, especially if your kid is still in grade school, just starting, and you feel like the school is trying to get away with not putting special help in place that you KNOW he needs (a very common experience). This is especially true if they act like a high IQ means he doesnt qualify for services. Thats a lie. A commonly used one to avoid sn IEP.

Dont worry about being popular. You are the only one in the entire school who loves your kid and is wildly invested in his or her outcome. You are your kids best advocate so he or she can grow to be the adult he CAN be. Nobody in school will know your child after graduation. We are the one who has to do it, even if its hard. And it IS hard.

Love and light :)
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Deni D

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
Staff member
Hi ifpo76, hope you’re hanging in there. My son is Bipolar, diagnosed with Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified when he was very young. Home was so much easier with mine also but because just like you I made the environment calm and structured.

I read the psychiatrist is trying Depakote. That’s for mood disorders and seizures, which I’m sure you know. I’m guessing that’s why your son’s psychiatrist is trying it. If you haven’t called his psychiatrist to get him back in it would probably be a good idea, or maybe just give the psychiatrist a call to discuss the recent events. Just to let you know, just because the Depakote doesn’t seem to be working it doesn’t mean the psychiatrist will change it just yet. If it’s going to help him they would want him on it for a month at least at his current dose probably. And also it doesn’t mean that Lithium or something else won’t work. The constant bloodwork was a pain when my son was on it but because it worked for him it was worth it. This of course in your son’s case assumes he actually is Bipolar.

Just from what you posted about your son it sounds like he has sensory issues. Too much input and not enough structure stresses him out. And it sounds like he has a problem with self-regulation, not being able to calm himself down. Right about now you are probably saying to yourself “ya-think?”

But I’m bringing this up because school and sports tend to put young people who get stressed out easily in situations they can’t handle. Your son’s school does sound pretty darn good with bringing him around after an episode. But the thing is unless he gets to a place where he can keep his cool, them helping him after the fact doesn’t really help him to learn to deal with stressors. It would be better if he had agreements in place where he could request to time himself out before he reaches his limit and real therapy. And with that, like others, I’m going to suggest you get the IEP ball rolling, because it seems he needs more support than he’s getting, even though they are doing much more than my son had in public school. With his history he would easily qualify for an IEP. I got an education advocate for my son when he was very young, because our local school system was cluster for special needs. The advocate I got was private, I paid her, she was worth her weight in gold. My son was placed in an out of district school for higher IQ, emotionally liable children. It was not a school the local school district recommended, their recommendations were lower cost schools for street smart deviants. If you get an advocate they can help you come up with a list of what he needs to be able to attend to schoolwork and make it through the day successfully.


Well-Known Member
This of course in your son’s case assumes he actually is Bipolar.
I understand that Depakote can be helpful even for the kids who look more ADHD and are not necessarily bipolar (yet or ever)...and that it is prescribed in this way. My son was not on Depakote then or now so I cannot comment based upon personal experience.
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