It's been a long time since I posted about him, so I thought I'd give you all a happy update.
To begin, it has not been easy this last year. We kept him in school, but he continued to do poorly, which was really devastating to his self-esteem. He developed panic attacks at school and I'd say I was picking him up from school at least three times a week. He spent another week in the hospital (second stay) in April and the diagnosis really didn't change, but they tried a whole new med regimen. He seemed to do better, attitude-wise, but finished the school year with only passing one of his classes. Summer was miserable because he was bored and had many episodes of being very depressed and angry. He went back to school in the fall and did well for the first couple weeks and then quit doing anything and instead of panic attacks, he was having anger issues to the point where when he told the social worker at school, she called me and told me I had to take him home and should probably bring him to the hospital.
As most things do, this happened for a reason because if it hadn't we wouldn't have met the psychiatrist who told us about the program that will hopefully save our son. He determined that he had borderline personality disorder which is only treated with therapy, no meds help it. It pretty much means that he has trouble controlling and understanding his emotions. This made sense since nothing he took (and believe me, we tried tons of different meds) ever helped him. The next thing he told us was to find a different way to get him through school. Unfortunately, here in MA there are no online programs that are accredited and with his poor history we couldn't see enrolling him in another high school.
So the psych told us about the "Gateway to College" program. It was started by Bill Gates as a way to help students who are in danger of not graduating, or have already dropped out. It helps them earn their HS diploma while also earning college credits. The program is FABULOUS! It's a full scholarship to a community college and will allow our son to earn his diploma and an associates degree in two years. He'll actually be ahead of other students his age! He took the placement tests and scored off the charts for a 16 yo, which is amazing considering how little he accomplished in school. He'll be going right into college level classes when he starts in January. We are so proud of him!
So it wasn't that our son couldn't do well in school, it was that he was bored. And because of his BPD, he had difficulty controlling his emotions when he was frustrated so he would just shut down. This in turn didn't allow him to do well enough to prove that he belonged in higher level classes. With his therapist he is learning new ways to handle his frustration so that he can do well in school. He's beyond excited because as he told us many times, it's not that he doesn't want to learn, he just hated the way it is spoon fed to the kids in public schools and repeated over and over. He was bored and frustrated in school and it was making him absolutely miserable.
So now he's gone from being a kid who wasn't interested in anything and had basically given up on ever succeeding in life, to one who is looking forward to doing well at the community college and earning the grades to be accepted at WPI in their chemistry program. Kevin and I are just busting!
Hopefully my post will help someone else in a similar situation who hasn't heard about the "Gateway to College" program. It is truly a tremendous opportunity for all kids who had or are having a difficult time in high school.
I am going to share this thread with some friends. It is so refreshing to hear that you hung in there and found some answers. I am so glad that you shared the outcome, that you found this program. I find it comforting that there are (have been) people out there like Bill Gates that have the insight and wisdom to get out in front of the parade and bang on their drums. It's true leadership that forges new paths and thinking.
The truth is what you can get other people to believe.
Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
Other Community Colleges around the country might have similar programs available to HS age kids. Here in our county, the big CC has a program called "Running Start" that allows HS students to take courses at the college level, while still attending (used loosely, as most do not go to their HS at all) HS. If taken seriously, kids can graduate from HS and college at the same time. My step-daughter did this, graduating from HS and CC at age 17, and transferred directly to a 4-year university as a Junior, graduating with a double major at age 20. She was "too old" for HS (her words) and wanted to "get on with it". She is wicked smart, quite manipulative (not necessarily a good thing), and found HS kids too immature for her sensibilities. She has an excellent job in banking now, at age 22.
Definitely check with your HS counselors to see if any colleges nearby offer this type of program!
Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!
In California a number of community colleges have what is called "Middle College" for high school Jrs and Srs who have trouble fitting into standard high school stuff. It can be a great program, particularly for smart kids who really do want to learn.
"The idea of Middle College has been around for 25 years and was first developed in La Guardia Community College in New York. Middle College Programs across the country and particularly in the Bay Area are becoming more popular and more nationally recognized.
Foothill Middle College began in 1993 as a collaborative effort between Foothill College, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, and the Palo Alto Unified District.
The founders of the program, Principal Bill McClintock and Foothill President Bernadine Fong, wanted to create a true academic alternative that would keep bright, struggling students interested in school and help them transition into the college setting."
I remember reading your first post about him, so I'm so happy to read this one! Someone very, very close to me has BPD so now I understand even more what you've been through. Great to hear good news—be sure you give your son (and you!) a huge pat on the back.