Our story begins when our son was 12 years old. He was in the seventh grade and to date was a good student, typical behavior, nothing that seemed too outrageous, participated in several athletic sports, somewhat distanced from his siblings due to six and eight years difference in age, had many good friends and seemed happy and enjoying his life. While in the seventh grade, his behavior became more defiant. He was angry, his grades started to fall and his attitude changed drastically towards school, sports and family. We started seeing psychologists who informed us that our son had ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. We were told that for years he was able to keep things together but now his life was getting harder to keep things organized and to deal with. We started him on different medications for the ADHD in addition to psychological therapy. We worked with four different doctors over the course of four years and our situation at home was getting worse. He was defiant, failing school, impulsive and making very poor and dangerous choices. We sought out one more professional who was recommended to our family and she told us that he was on a dangerous path and since our son was 17 ½ years old we had a small window of opportunity to help him before he became 18 and could legally make his own decisions. She recommended that we send him to a wilderness program in North Carolina. Our child was ill and needed help; we were going to do whatever it took to get him the help he needed. This was a huge financial burden on our family but somehow we would manage. We were not willing to postpone this intervention.
Our son attended wilderness from September to January. He graduated their program as a Certified Responder. It was recommended to us, by his therapist, that he not return home but continue his high school education in a boarding school with a therapeutic environment. We were told at that time that our son should have a full psychological exam profile for the new school and that hiring an Educational Consultant would be very helpful in finding the best placement for him. We were overwhelmed trying to find an appropriate placement ourselves and finally were referred to Bodin by our son’s program therapist.
Our initial experience with Bodin was very positive. We contacted Bodin by e-mail and then had personal conversations with a consultant concerning our needs for our son. The consultant was very professional and supported us and our son and we felt that they would be able to help us through this process. Bodin usually arranges a personal meeting with the child, but unfortunately for us, this all happened during the Christmas holiday which made things very challenging and didn’t allow this to happen in our situation.
Once we, including our son, were in agreement on what we were looking for in a school, our Educational Consultant forwarded a list with brochures of different options for us to research. She supported us with questions to stimulate our thoughts as we checked out the different programs. She checked in with us throughout this process offering her support and help. She set up times and dates for us to make contact with different personnel as there was some difficulty making connections due to the holidays. Miraculously it all worked out within the time frame we had to work with. This was a very emotional time for all of us. We wanted our son home but knew that he could not return home until he was ready; we had come this far and we needed to see it through.
Our family decided on a school in Utah. We felt our son’s ADHD needs in and out of the classroom would be met along with attention to his continued emotional growth. His plan of treatment included academic, personal and family goals.
Our son’s initial experience in the school started off very positive, but soon he made some poor impulsive choices which reinforced the need for his continued treatment. While in wilderness the behaviors were addressed with some change but there wasn’t enough time for him to internalize the change. He needed to learn, through exposure of these issues, to develop integrity and accountability.
While in Utah our son had a lot of positive experiences with staff and peers alike. He made friends and experienced typical high school (teenage) activities. He was able to complete his high school education in an accelerated program but he required more time to complete the emotional/personal growth part of his contract. This is the part that continues to be the hardest and emotional part of our journey. The bumps in the road and the disappointing set backs. Watching our son fall time and time again was very hard hoping each time that he would learn from his mistakes. Missing them and wanting your family together and healthy but knowing it is going to take more time. You question yourself many times….is it working…..will things get better…..what else can we do……how long can we keep doing this…….are we doing the right thing…..? I can only say that with a lot of prayers, faith and support from family, friends, the wonderful program staff and Bodin we are surviving this journey.
Our consultant would call on a regular basis with encouraging words and support. She also continued her relationship with our son encouraging him and supporting him throughout. It was great hearing from her out of the blue, when we had discouraging news and celebratory news as well. She was a wonderful listener for a mother and father who at times felt lost and alone in a place they never thought they would be. As our son’s graduation date was approaching, our consultant approached us concerning his next step and discussed with us and him, his wishes for continued education. Since our son graduated high school before he was ready to graduate the program, we were able to get him involved in an on-line college level computer course. Our consultant assisted us in looking at options and coming up with a plan for him to start at a local college once he returned home. She also discussed with us the transition to home which could involve a life coach. After some research and her support, our son’s therapeutic doctor agreed to continue working with us on our home contract and continued transition support at home. With much gratitude our time with Bodin has come to an end, as they successfully supported us for a year of this journey.
Our son returned home in a much better place in October. He now communicates openly and respectfully, is more mature, happy and comfortable with himself and our family. We continue to work everyday on helping our son become the wonderful person we know he is. Even now that he is home and has gained part-time employment and started college we continue to have spot sessions with his therapist in Utah to make sure we are all still on track. We can talk with him now and work on issues as they come up. He is very cooperative and now willing to listen to our view point and reasoning. Things are not perfect but we are all in a much healthier place, of course he still breaks the house rules once in a while, but we continue to work on these and other issues in a more productive manner. He has become a young man with much potential and even if the road ahead would be a little rough, as there are no guarantees, the future is bright and we will all get to the final destination together.