Online Parent Support Chat

17.11.10

He is now in grade 12 and failing his first semester...

My son has never been diagnosed with Aspergers but there are some traits/symptoms that I do recognize in him. My son’s name is Alex and he is 17 years old. He was a happy child until he reached grade 7 where he started feeling that he did not fit in. Because he was bright and identified as gifted we sent him to a private school where the discipline was paramount. He was happy at first then started coasting. At the end of grade 8 he decided to try for the International Baccalaureate program at a nearby school. He got in despite the rigorous competition. At the end of grade nine it was obvious that the program was not for him. Since then it has been a progressive decline in academic standing but mostly in his happiness….his self-perception, the way he relates to others. We have watched in desperation as our once happy son has turned into a sullen and unmotivated young man. Last year in grade 11 he failed 4out of 8 courses. During the year we worked very closely with the school in trying to provide him with all that is necessary for him to succeed. We found a counselor who worked with him for a while but decided very quickly that the boy was fine and was just being a teenager. Alex is very bright and knows what to tell people to make them happy or to convince them he is fine. He saw a doctor because he expressed that he was feeling depressed and overwhelmed, a state that is understandable for anyone who has let his work slip so much that he knows he will fail. He was on antidepressants for a while but dropped the medication because he said it made him feel detached. My husband and I have tried different approaches, a mistake from what I have read in your manual. I tend to be the disciplinarian while my husband favors a softer approach. This I believe has contributed to the problem. We have been working together to come to some form of solution. I would lie if I said we were not desperate.

Alex does not have many friends but he does have a girlfriend and the two of them get along very well. We know her father and we try to stay as involved as he will let us. For the better part he sticks to the curfew although he has snuck out for the night on a handful of occasions. He was grounded. As a family we are very close despite the strain this is putting on us. Alex comes home but tends to keep to himself. We have dinner together at the kitchen table almost every night and try to engage him as much as possible on a variety of topics. Sometimes we are successful other times he will not participate. But the routine lives on. Whenever there is a confrontation he will reproach me for all the lecturing I used to do when driving him to school ( it was impossible to get him ready on time and we were stressed every morning). He said that it frustrated him so much that he was unable to relate to his peers. I have invited him to discuss this with me alone or with a psychologist but he refuses, saying there is nothing to discuss. Yet he reproaches me every chance he has. I have to add that as a child he had friends over all the time or was invited to his friends’.

He is now in grade 12 and failing his first semester. He started off well or so it seemed but by October it was abundantly clear that he was not meeting his obligations. We have been in to talk to the school repeatedly. We cannot reach him. If pressed he simply flees. He is angry. Unhappy. Does not want to go see the doctor. Despite all that, he is working with the tutor while he is with him but is not capable of handing in assignments or working independently. Truancy at school is becoming more and more of an issue. The school has mentioned that they might expel him, to which he replies “maybe that is what I need to get myself together” or “I will be out of your hair soon enough”. I am sure that you have heard this many times before, but my husband and I don’t know what to do.

My Out-of-Control Teen

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