Angela Jean Smith

from Sioux City, IA


I'll be as brief here as I can.  My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was five. He was doing fine in school and healthy and normal up until 6 grade.  Once he got into middle school, it started to go downhill.  I thought it was because he wasn't used to changing classrooms and having different teachers for each class, although that was part of it.  As he went through 6 and 7 grade, his very good grades were turning into C's and D's and his behavior was becoming more and more intolerable.  He would have mood swings where he would become angry, and then two minutes later, he would be as happy as normal.  Then his impulsivity would kick up at least two levels to the point where he was pulling fire alarms, calling 911 from pay phones and much more.  It was like, "I didn't know this child anymore." He was completely different than the sweet, loving, intelligent boy that I had known.

Finally, in 8 grade, it was a daily occurrence where I was being called by his school. His fits of rage were so bad that I was actually scared a couple of times for his little sister and me.  We'd been to his medication specialist, his therapist, AEA, been working with the school, consulted with a psychologist and were contemplating very seriously of taking him to Boys Town.  We had exhausted all our avenues and I was at my wits end!  At one point, I went to his therapist, took him by the shoulders as I was bawling, and begged him to help me.  The therapist suggested one last thing, to try the outpatient program at Mercy Medical.

So we got him enrolled in that program and took my son out of his school.  His program involved having one-on-one study time with a teacher, group counseling and he met with the doctor everyday or they at least observed him on a daily basis.  He was there a little over a month and the doctors came back with the diagnosis of Adolescent Bipolar.  We worked with the doctors and medication specialists to get his medications changed and within two weeks, he had shown such great improvement that he was discharged.  Now he is a freshman in high school, on the underclassman honor roll and looking forward to taking driver's ed this summer.  He has done a complete 360 degree turn around and it's like I have my son back!

Looking back, what could have been done at the time to improve the situation? Treatment, medication, a different approach, or understanding from others around you?

I definitely felt like I, as a parent, was out there by myself!  I had no one to turn to, counselors who did not know what to do either, limited options and even had therapists that did not believe 100 percent in Adolescent Bipolar.

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