Are we raising a sociopath?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by threeCs, Oct 4, 2007.

  1. threeCs

    threeCs New Member

    Where to begin---
    difficult child has been irritable since before school began when he found out he was not placed in class with the majority of his friends. He spent the first couple of weeks acting out, at which time we received calls and emails from his teachers. After a few rough patches, he seemed to settle down.

    Then last night we get a call from the division head. Seems our difficult child defaced a globe in a classroom that doubles as a Spanish classroom during the school day and test prep class in the afternoon. Our difficult child takes Spanish in that classroom and has a lousy record of bad behavior in Spanish dating back to last year. So, test prep class is chaotic and the division head has to come into the class to lecture them. After test prep was over, difficult child, egged on by other students, and defaced the globe. (they were unsupervised. I spoke to difficult child after class and he had permission to hang out with his friends for a half an hour before he came home.) What makes this a special difficult child story :slap:is that of course he did not rush home to tell us. The principal’s call was the first we heard of it. And turns out that no less than three of his classes were lectured because of this incident and plenty of time and space was offered to the offending party to confess. Not our guy. Three kids finally told the division head privately that our difficult child had been the one who had written on the globe. The principal talked to our difficult child and then we got the phone call.

    Our difficult child's first response was, ‘I wasn’t the only one who was did it!’ Well, yeah he did the actual did, but others told him to! :surprise: difficult child said at the time, he thought it was funny. I have hypothesized the reason he was placed in a class without the majority of his friends this year, stems from his deep seated desire to be cool and linked with the popular kids. (difficult child is overweight, an AS -type brain and could easily be a candidate for nerddom if his interests had not morphed from trains and pokeiman to baseball and basketball). This was the situation last year and difficult child was ALWAYS in some kind of trouble for goofing around and causing a disruption in class. It so happens that the ‘cool’ kids are also the kids who have to work hard in order to get the concepts and info taught in class. Our difficult child is blessed with ability to absorbed knowledge whether he wants to or not. This means he can goof off and still use his recall abilities to do ok academically. Though, as you can imagine, he doesn’t do as well as he is capable because, why should he? Doing well in school is our hang up not his! :geek:

    After about a half hour, he apologized, but that really didn’t happen in earnest until mom brought up the conversation—again—about looking into therapeutic school settings, since his impulses and judgment seem to require more supervision than we will be able to manage in a home setting as he moves into high school. Then the apology and pleading began in earnest. Later, before he went to bed, one of his friends called and told difficult child KJ—difficult child’s best friend—had been one of the kids to talk to the division head. difficult child was furious all over again, because KJ knew how much trouble difficult child has been in at home and he ratted him out! So now he is giving KJ the silent treatment because KJ got difficult child in trouble! Got to love difficult child logic! :hammer:

    The consequences at school are that he apologize to every class and the teachers, replace the globe out of his own money and he is not allowed to hang out with his friends after test prep class. We are devastated and embarrassed on so many fronts. Turns out, he wrote something derogatory and racist on different countries of the globe. This is a progressive school that prides itself on diversity. Our difficult child is white and Jewish, as is his mom and I am a black American woman. His grandparent FLED Europe from the Nazi’s with his grandma spending a significant portion of her childhood in South America. So much so her accent is Spanish rather German and Hungarian. And did I mention I do diversity training for a living? :slap:

    He has a conscience and says he is sorry. But he has also said that before, as recently as two weeks ago when his anger was getting the best of him at home and school. He is able to admit that the added pressures of high school application process—which includes this tutoring—are stressing him out and is the reason he has such a short fuse. And while we appreciate his ability to be self-reflective in hindsight, we pointed out to him he has resources and skills available to him that means he does not to get to indulge in this angry, defiant behavior, just because he is upset that he is being corrected, reprimanded or having a limit set.

    We are really worried because this is the year school has to send information about kids to HS we are applying to. And although difficult child gets this, he is still so mad—about everything, all the time AND feels justified in his anger. Private schools are under no obligation to take kids, especially in a city where the spaces for HS that would be a good fit, are limited. And public school space is even more limited.

    And what is he so angry about? His class placement, his teachers, his mom being a lesbian, his mom’s partner being black and therefore outing him wherever we go and disrupting his image of himself as a cool kid. (Yes, everyone knows he has two moms—he has lots of friends, in school and out of school with two moms, interracial 2 mom families, two dad families, bi-racial kids, mom dad, 2 kids and a dog-- you name it,it's part of our social circle! When i first came on the scene, he was sooo excited to have a second parent, that we skipped the hard 'i hate the step-parent phase' we are in now.) And he gets to air all of this, and we are very good—too good maybe—about respecting his feelings and all of it. But enough all ready! There are people starving, unable to get proper medical care, education, jobs. He’s blessed to be only upset about homework and the racial/sexual orientation of his family. (Ok—that’s my personal rant--) Then again, I suppose all of this is a rant but… :crazy2:

    Are we raising a sociopath? The stunts he pulled this summer include losing his cell phone and then lying to us about it by saying someone mugged him. The phone showed up at his mom’s office because someone nice picked it up off of the bus seat, called ‘mom at work’ and returned it to her office. difficult child found us unreasonable then because we seemed to 'not get over it' fast enough to let him go to a pro baseball game the next day with three 13 year old boys and no adult.

    Should we be looking at a return to medications? I am the only one in the house who thought they worked, but I have lived a shorter time with the explosive behavior and therefore don’t have the same level of scar tissue they do…

    What was the address of the fantasy island someone here was dreaming about recently? You know the one with sun, drinks with little umbrellas and--dare i say it--no kids--at all! :smile:
  2. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Wow ...

    Just a thought ... could the racial slurs be an attempt to express his anger at your involvement with your significant other? Diversity - "it's part of our social circle"! But is it a part of his social circle at school? Or is it a typical mainstream school where the majority of families fit into the tidy box?

    At this age kids are ALL ABOUT conformity. Since your family configurations are outside of the 'mainstream', he may be feeling ostracized. Kids are cruel ... is it possible that he is being teased (my daughter was once teased because my hubby is overweight)? Did I mention how cruel kids are at this age?

    Our daughter acted out her freshman year of high school. She spent more time in the behavior class than in her mainstream classes. Later (after we had removed her from the high school) she bravely began to tell us how she was being abused by her peers. Is it possible that your son is being bullied?

    Might be time to add some family therapy to the mix ... I see he attends solo ... but some of these things might be due to family stressors.

    I doubt he's a true sociopath. It sounds to me like he's a kid just trying to find his fit in the world.
  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    OMG is this story familar.

    I don't think you are raising a sociopath.

    "He has a conscience and says he is sorry. But he has also said that before, as recently as two weeks ago when his anger was getting the best of him at home and school. He is able to admit that the added pressures of high school application process—which includes this tutoring—are stressing him out and is the reason he has such a short fuse."

    The good news is he has a conscience and he is self reflective.

    "There are people starving, unable to get proper medical care, education, jobs. He’s blessed to be only upset about homework and the racial/sexual orientation of his family."

    I hear you. Our difficult child is angry that she is adopted. Get over it already. So were nine other kids in her eight grade class and who knows how many in her hs class. She isn't the only one and she is darn lucky she has us for parents. I'm tired of paying the price for her birthmother placing her for adoption. How dare she...would she rather have been aborted. (Sorry my rant is coming out too)

    I worry that my difficult child is a sociopath. She has no conscience it seems, never says she is sorry, and lies about anything and everything even when she is caught red handed. I caught her smoking the other day and said "J are you smoking?" she looked right at me and said 'No'. Good news is she never hurt little animals or started fires or wet the bed, the telltale signs of a sociopath. Still I wonder.

    I understand the worry about hs. We had to give up on difficult child attending a private hs because of her discipline record. We are now having to lower our expectations further by accepting the fact that she will not go to college and in a year and a half will have to find a job and support herself, with no training or further education.

    I would try medications again if I were you. We are doing that route again also after many years without.

  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    No, I am no pro by any means, but he seems to be acting out and being extremely immature. Kids know where to hit hardest when it comes to emotions, don't they?
    And hey, face it, you've given him plenty to be un-cool about ... race and sex, those old topics you're not supposed to discuss at the dinner table (okay, religion is in there, too, LOL!)
    He's pushinging your buttons. You're letting him. I get to say this because I let my son push my buttons and am working hard at not letting it hurt. A lot of us here have the same issue.

    You know how he thought you were being unreasonable about not letting him go to a pro basketball game unsupervised? That is a perfect way to set limits. Do not, do not, do NOT let his resentment get under your skin. In fact, the louder he complains, the more you know you are getting through to him. Go for it. No matter what race or sex you are, you are the parent. You are in charge.

    Do you expect him to say, "Thank you for grounding me. I am so mature I understand completely and am ever so grateful to you." ? NOT!

    You yourself said he's got a conscience, so he's not a sociopath. He's just acting out, bigtime.

    Don't forget to reward him when he does something good. It's really hard to find the good, but it can be comething small, like, if he holds open the door for you, carries groceries, or answers the phone nicely.

    Good luck!
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hi there,

    Welcome, we haven't spoken before. First of all I was interested in your post because I have a 17 year old son that after 11 plus years of interventions is a budding psychopath. I don't use that term lightly or joke about it. I used to but now the reality of the situation has caught up with us.

    There are a lot of behaviors your child is exhibiting that at his age can be diagnosed in a number of different ways. My son was abused by his biofather and grandmother very badly. Even at that he has moments of being a sweet and loving kid - if it will profit him in some way.

    After reading your post and with a few years behind me on this I'm still not any able to offer you any armchair diagnosis. What I will recommend is that you have a psychiatric. evaluation done on him, and start notating in times, dates, degrees of difficulty and what you did to rectify or react to the situation. That notebook will be priceless in the future for a more accurate diagnosis which could/could not help a psychiatrist and psychologist in helping him.

    I will close in telling you that I know your heart hurts, and you're warn out. It's a good idea to get yourself some counseling too so you can learn how to deal with him and communicate effectively to get the best outcome for all. My son's father FYI is really a sociopath. I had no clue; but that's part of their charm - For us it's enough to know that he isn't a natural born killer like his father.

    I'm really sorry for your aching heart. Don't be shy, this place is a real life saver when you loose what's left of your sanity.

  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi. I have some suggestions. If they work, go for it. If they don't, or don't seem good, ignore me.

    I really think your difficult child needs a much more thorough evaluation. It does no service to him to let him go untreated. I know he had zoloft and that it has been stopped. Zoloft would not even be on my personal radar of medications if my son acted this way.

    Your difficult child, like many of our kids, is emotionally much younger than he is chronologically. He can pretty much be expected to act several years younger than his chronological peers.

    If you would go to and listen to some of their free downloads you might get some ideas about how to help/handle him. Dr. Fay is an absolute riot in person, and his downloads make some really good points. You can get a good idea of what they are about and then they have books if you care to follow up. We have had TONS of luck with this.

    I do think that if he is mad about what you are doing, you are doing it right.

    You may have to learn the phrase "Do to Get." Many of us do this. If our kids want something, they have to earn it. Even from us. OUtside the basic mattress, food and clothes, you are required to provide your son with NOTHING.

    Have him do chores to earn $$ to pay for his own things. And for all those luxuries we parents provide.

    I think some of this might help, but that your son won't truly be able to reach his potential unless you get him some medical help. Not saying medications are teh answer, but a more thorough diagnosis by a team of docs would help a lot. Check out the archives for Multidisciplinary evaluation. Also check out Parent report in the archives.



    And family therapy is a good idea also.
  7. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I don't think you are raising a sociopath, but I only say that because I thought the same thing of mine when he was that age (and other ages), he could ace any test and charm his way through any paper by remembering the bare necessities and logic. And he was a nerd who wanted to be cool, started breaking into cars and houses, defaced public and private property, etc...

    It did help somewhat that we put him in a college prep high school for a while. The cool kids were not thugs, they were well dressed clean cut kids who did well in their classes and had legitimate activities. Not to say that they didn't party too much, but for a while it wasn't horrendous. :frown:


    Why do they think this way? Why don't they think "I knew how much trouble I had been in at home so I didn't do it." For crying out loud, of course their group is going to be looked at, and of course someone is going to name names! What do they think, that they're in the Mafia and there's a sworn blood oath?
  8. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    A sociopath? Nah.....just a difficult child. But I do agree with the suggestions of more testing and maybe some family counseling. He could very well be out of a honeymoon phase (seeing as how you said he skipped the "I hate the new step-parent" phase). I don't know how long you and your partner have been together but that is a possibility. (Cause you know........our difficult children "always" react to things in a predictible manner! LOL )

    Even with your social circle of diversity, he could also be trying to find his "niche" within his own group of friends. Depending on who is cool that particular week could affect his daily (or hourly) views on different race/religion/orientation issues. Our difficult child and I have had a few talks on judging people based on how they treat themselves as well as others and not on skin color/orientation/religion/etc. and he still wobbles back and forth on his own personal beliefs. When he says things that husband and I don't approve of, I simply tell him that while he's entitled to his own beliefs, he's aware of ours and if his current opinions don't match those of the "house" then he needs to keep them to himself or express them in a respectful manner. Someone mentioned not letting him get under your skin......I agree. I think that a lot of times, "our" kids delight in seeing how torqued up they can get us even when it's by saying things they don't honestly mean. If they know they can get us wound up, they'll say it or do it. I know it's hard to maintain your cool at times but anytime he says things that are out of line, I would just calmly remind him that that was not appropriate and ask him if there is a different way he could say that or if it was something that truly needed to be said.

    People are going to have their own beliefs no matter what they are taught within their family. We may not agree with them but that is their right. With that said though, I also believe that barring being taught violence or destructive behaviours in the home, members of households should (yeah, I know, in a perfect world :hammer: ) respect each other's beliefs and treat each other with respect. I'm not sure that all came out like I wanted it to but I hope you know what I'm trying to say. (It made a lot more sense in my head)

    As for that island...........the plate is being passed as we speak! I figure that if we all chip in, surely there's something out there we can get, right? (And if not........lie to me like there's no tomorrow. A girl can dream can't I?????)
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    We adopted an eleven year old boy who turned out to BE a sociopath. We were told there are three signs of a budding sociopath that are staples of the disorder--wetting the bed and/or defalcating all over, killing or harming animals and starting fires. Although our little sociopath hid it well, he was doing all three (with a big smile so that adults loved him and kids wouldn't "tattle" on him). He sexually abused our two younger children, and tried to abuse an epileptic boy in his classroom. He had no conscience at all and, once he was found out and made to leave, was never sorry. He had absolutely no idea why he'd done what he did and his only regret was getting caught. He has never returned as he is too dangerous for family life. I wouldn't be shocked to see his face on television saying he killed somebody. THAT IS A SOCIOPATH, the technical name of his problem called "Severe Reactive Attachment Disorder." Oh, did I mention he killed out puppy by hanging it on a noose? He tried blaming our younger son, who is on the autistic spectrum.
    I think you have a child who wants to be like everyone else, and I don't think that's really that far out of the range of normal. Kids are conservative. It embarrasses them to be in a non-conventional family (okay, perhaps SOME kids are ok with it, but I don't think most are). The defacing of the globe is concerning, but not THAT far out of the ordinary. Kids do silly things like that, then lie to stay out of trouble. Now if he does that ALL the time, then you have a bigger problem.
    I think you should have him evaluated completely by a neuropsychologist. They test more thoroughly than other professionals and come as close as possible to what is going on. If he is AS, you should know. AS kids need a LOT of help with text book type learning social skills, and other "common sense" aspects of life, even though they may be very bright. I wouldn't just guess at w hat's wrong because, if something is, the child has the best chance if he gets interventions. Again, I urge a neuropsychologist. I would not rely on a talk therapist, even a plain psycologist--they do not test. You may also want to use a Child Psychiatrist in conjunction with the neuropsychologist. This is what we did to finally come close to our son's problem. medications may or may not be needed. My son does better off of medications. Yours may need them. Diagnose him again first.
    Please take care, no matter what you decide to do, and I'm just a layperson but, having had a sociopath in my house, I don't think your boy is anywhere near one.
  10. threeCs

    threeCs New Member

    Thanks so much for the support--and the clarification on the term sociopath. :whew:

    He had a 2nd neuropsychologist evaluation the spring of 6th grade--after a huge meltdown in 5th--obsessive thoughts that led to lying stealing and computer porn, defiant behavior that included episodes of peeing on the school bathroom floor--on purpose. He didn't think he would get caught. :grrr: (The first evaluation was done when he was 3 and there was a diagnosis of NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)--non-specific)In the moment of crisis, we saw a child psychiatrist who recommended Prozac, which he did for 3 months and then spun out of control. He switched to Zoloft and had better results. By the time we had the evaluation done, his behavior had stabilized and he was better able to articulate his feelings of anxiety and depression. The second evaluation showed basically he has made huge gains since he was 3 and barely shows up as someone on the autism spectrum. There are anxiety and depression co--somethings--but they are brought on by his NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) stuff--which still exists, but in a lesser form.

    difficult child perceives the difference between the way he can understand somethings right away and then some things, which are sooo much easier for other kids to get--especially around social stuff--he doesn't, which creates irritation and anger. So, for instance, mathematical calculations have always been a strength. Enter algebra where the concepts are different and have a word problem component, it's harder for him to get it the first time around, so he gives up, throws some version of a tantrum and then has to be coaxed back into trying it in smaller steps. When he was 7, 8, 9, this wasn't such a problem but now he is 5'8 almost 250 pounds. A fist pounded on a table invokes a different response and reaction. And yes, the 'common sense stuff’ must be taught. It is not hard wired.

    He has seen his therapist since he was 6. She is great with him, less effectual with us as a group (she and husband have had some nasty go around in the past) as difficult child has gotten older, she has been less inclined to meet with us and discuss what is going on for him. I appreciate the suggestion of maybe trying to initiate another round of family therapy.

    You all rock!
  11. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I wanted to reply to the part about math being his strength.

    I am 43. For years I thought when it came to math that I was dumb, stupid, ignorant, couldn't get it, had no knack for math. Because I told myself that I was no good at math, when I would fall short of others expectations in other things in life I began to feel the same way about those things stupid, ignorant, couldn't get it, no knack and it snowballed.

    For me it left me with very little self esteem. I was just the dumb one in the family. Everyone else was smarter than I was. The kids in class were smarter, the kids in ballet were prettier, the kids in brownies were more popular, the kids in baton would "get it", the kids at camp had a knack for canoing, I was dumb.
    (see a pattern?)

    A few years ago I hired a woman to do the bookkeeping for our multi-million dollar company. I hired her because she was SO smart, she GOT math, she had a knack for numbers. Her kids were smart, her husband was smart, heck the whole dang family was a genius. Her son at age 21 has a Ph.d in applied mathematics and taught at USC. 21? YUP! Genius.

    I mean I told myself I had my "strengths" day she was going to be out for a hysterectomy. She said "I need to show you how to do this (bookkeeping) while I'm out." I panicked, but sat there and listened. She explained what I had to do and she may as well have been talking in Chinese. She looked at me and said something I will NEVER EVER forget. "Um. okay you don't get it (and my heart sank, yes yes I was a math idiot, a dummy I was...) and THEN SHE SAID "Let's see how I can explain this so you can understand - you're a smart woman Star." WHAT? ME? Smart? HUH? So this woman proceeds to tell me the same thing but in a language that I can understand and to my amazement "I GOT IT." It made me cry.

    She looked at me and without asking what was wrong.....she said "You know, I have 3 kids. Each one of them learns things differently. My oldest is a hands on learner, my middle one is like her Father in her thinking and I just let her go to him because they speak the same language, and my youngest learns by listening." It hit me then and changed my life forever that I'm NOT and never was stupid.

    What I did was try to live up to the expectations that had been programmed into my brain since I was a baby. We hear things like You're a smart boy, you're a pretty girl and then we get cut loose on society and society compares us, then we "feel" we immediately fall short and we're not so pretty or so smart or fast, or good at sports and it's the beginning of our forming negative impact towards ourselves. It's awful. And it's why the psychologists have a job.

    If your son has been good at math, and now isn't then my "guess" would be he has a teacher that is NOT explaining it so that he can "get it". Given another teacher a different person or persons to explain it so his brain can understand the input, I'm sure he WOULD understand.

    In my life I have never wanted to go back and tell anyone off like I want to tell my 5th grade math teacher. WHat I would tell her is that SHE failed ME, I didn't fail math..I tried, I tried really hard. But when I didn't get "it" she should have gone the extra mile and found another way to explain it, and she didn't she made fun of me, and told the class with every test that I must not have studied - again, or that I'm just not keeping up and will have to be left behind. I was not dumb, she just was not the right teacher for me.

    Explaining that to your son, may help him get over the fear of trying to "keep up" with someone who isn't teaching him in a manner that he can understand the material.

    Hugs -
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    What a beautiful story, LoanRanger.
  13. starcloaked

    starcloaked New Member

    Just another vote of another person (with the same name!) who grew up being "bad at math." I now work at a prestigious university doing statistics for a living. Turns out, I just can't do abstract math, but I can do math when it means something, and I can explain it to people better than 90% of people with PhDs in math (I know because I work with these people). I still can't do algebra (though I don't share that with most of the math PhDs I work with) unless it's a concrete question and I can work out the solution my own way. I can do calculus, I got an A in finance at the master's level and was told I was my grad stats prof's best student of all time. But ask me to solve for x and I'm at a complete and utter loss. To this day, master's degree and $200/hr consulting rate in hand, I would probably fail high school algebra. I wonder what would have happened had I been taught differently...

    I've read some research about the way math is taught in the US being very unusual from an international perspective, and being contrary to what teaching and learning research says are the most effective methods. All my life I've just coped by adding the hundreds and the tens and the ones separately and then putting the whole thing together, instead of carrying the ones and such (to give addition as an example), and it turns out that many countries teach kids to do exactly that and research shows that more kids learn that way than in our "traditional way." So anyway, like the other Star said, it's not necessarily a matter of being "bad" at it. It's a matter of how you understand it.

    Anyway, I'm sorry for all you're going through with difficult child. My difficult child is a peanut compared to yours, but I'm sure we'll get some drama about family structure some day. I figure if they're exposed to diversity and protected from bias (directly targeted at them; cultural bias is of course everpresent), I will try not to worry about it, and if they start to act out, that's going to get an earful. I can imagine that a nice lecture on diversity and bias and privilege (trotting out your work as a diversity trainer) might be a nice punishment. :wink:

  14. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    What you describe with math with your son is typical of NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD). My daughter has a horrible time with math. Everytime they learn a new concept, she and I sit down and do it several different ways until we find one that clicks for her. That often takes several different tries, too, and needs a lot of repeating.

    You might find some info here on how you and his teachers can help:
  15. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    As the parent of 4 boys and one teenage girl (and teenage girls are ALL psychotic, difficult child or not!), I do not think you are raising a future sociopath.

    You are in NYC, have you been to the NYU Child Study yet? They are top notch. Perhaps you can get an evaluation there.

    Your son sounds somewhat like my oldest, who was leadpoisoned and has a result has many Aspie like qualities. He is a HS senior now and we have him in an alternative HS for kids that are essentially gifted underachievers. My son could look at a complex math equation and say x = whatever and be right, but can not for the life of him figure out HOW he got the answer. He as failing Math A all year, just didn't care and was told that if he aced the Regents, he'd pass the class. I got him one tutoring session and he got an 85 (mastery level) and passed for the year! Sounds like your kid is the same, doesn't need or want to do the daily grind but can pull it off when needed. My son has some NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) traits as well but because of the lead, it is hard to define them. His verbal IQ is higher than his math, though not significantly.

    My suggestion to you is that you look for a HS where your son will have peers. My son suffered in the regular HS (I am a suburb of NYC with a one size fits all HS) for a year until I sent him to the alternative school. My H said he didn't want him with "freaks" but I pointed out that to the reg ed kids our son was a freak. He is happier now, off medications, fairly compliant for a 17 year old, has his driver's license and is planning to attend community college next fall and then transfer to a 4 year school when he's ready to leave home! I think if we had him in reg HS, he'd be a basket case, suicidal (and I know I would be if I had to fight with him over homework for one more year)and more than likely a drop out by now. Here, he has peers, most of them nice kids who are a little out of the box, a couple with more serious issues but overall I am so thrilled with his school. In NYC, you have more school choice than we in the burbs, so look carefully for a good fit. Start now if you think you want an alternative type school - my son's school does not take kids who are violent or have substance abuse problems, although they do take kids with bipolar and schiz and even take some who use drugs, as long as it's not the drug abuse that has them there.