Wanting to homeschool a gifted, possibly bipolar child - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm pretty new to this whole forum thing, but here is my story.

I have a son that will be 9 in June as is currently in public school for the 3rd grade. Last year I homeschooled (unschooled/relaxed homeschooled) him for the second half of the year. He is gifted and learns things in large bursts instead of step by step. Public school has always been a struggle. He was reading in 3 year old preschool and so it's just gone down hill from there. Last year was so bad he started coming home saying that he "was a bad kid" and that "he couldn't do anything right" I tried talking to the teachers, but since (finally) he was sitting in his chair and not causing a fuss, was told not to worry about it. I took him out of school that week and homeschooled him for the rest of the year. I was a single (divorced) mom at the time and I worked at home running my small business. He was amazingly rehabilitated. Tantrums and rages went down about 85% and he was never depressed to that point again. This year my exhusband insisted that I put him back in school (dispite that he is about 2 years ahead academically) because he was doing fine and it was good for him to learn how to do what he is told. He thinks that since things "in the real world" will not be easy...he should just learn how to deal. Well, now we are seeing a therapist because he has been getting upset and crying in school and started hitting himself with a binder. I can almost always prevent him from escalating to this point at home. He is also careless and sometimes does things that are reckless (trying to tightrope walk on the edge of a bridge etc.). The therapist is leaning towards Bipolar disorder and I basically agree. I want to homeschool him next year. I am happily remarried now, financially stable, and am willing to do it. My ex still says "no, school is good for him". My current husband doesn't have a problem with it, he just thinks that it will be exhausting for me (I am having a baby in October). I actually feel sooooo much better with him at home. I know this kid like the back of my hand and see all of the wonderful good sides...he is so sweet and so smart. We have and will be with an active homeschool group...which I look at as "social therapy". Two questions: How far do I push homeschooling with my Ex? (I have full physical custody/ joint legal and I live in a very pro homeschool area).
Is it weird that I would still want my 5 year old to go to kindergarten? (she is very social and is looking forward to school. Plus she learns in a very step by step manner). Thanks!
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#2 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 06:52 PM
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I think it is clear that the homeschooling environment is a positive one for your child and I would pursue it. Would your ex- be satisfied with keeping him out until high school or until he wanted and felt up to returning?

I'm trying to remember the title of a helpful book, maybe someone else will remember - it is something like Misdiagnosis and dual diagnosis of gifted kids.

Not knowing your ex it is hard to advise how hard to push it. Is there middle ground? Will your school district allow part-time enrollment, or are there some homeschool co-ops where he can go and do 'classes' a day or two a week. Perhaps if he is in some regular outside activity -scouting, sports, 4-H, choir, or music (orchestra), that would be sufficient for your ex. Would some sort of virtual school appease him?
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#3 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 07:45 PM
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I don't have an answer for you here -- hopefully someone else has info on how to deal with parents who don't support the decision. I just wanted to let you know that I'm homeschooling my 8 year old who is officially ADD, although he is more hyper-attentive than attention-deficit....he hears and sees everything with no filter or ability to block it out. He became very depressed in grade one, talked about death, tantrumed, could hardly string words together to make a sentence. We were thinking depression or bipolar, but once we homeschooled, a lot of the depression and confusion went away. He just needed to be away from the chaos. Good luck on your journey\.
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#4 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 10:12 PM
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This is a must read .

And here's another:

It sounds like some/many/all of his behaviours are reactive, and that school is an environment that escalates them.

The study should raise some warning bells for physicians on the front lines making medical decisions. Creative children can be very challenging in conventional classrooms, and yet misbehaviors are what sends kids to doctors' offices for medication.

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#5 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 10:20 PM
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I was diagnosed bipolar when I was a child (though I beginning to question that diagnosis) and I was homeschooled briefly. I wish I would have been homeschooled for the entirety of my school life up to high school. School was veeeeery difficult for me- not academically but the environment.

I think it depends on the child, really. If he is thriving keep it up!

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#6 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 10:36 PM
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What does the pysche say? Teachers? (I have heard of a few who suggested HSing to parents - not all teachers are anti HSing). I only ask because their opinion may be used to sway your ex.

Another idea is to discuss exactly what your ex's concerns are - and show him how you can help assauge those concerns.

ex - socialisation: scouts, HSing groups, church etc
academic - testing, portfolios, etc

You do not have to do what your ex says.

Try to resolve it amicably - but if that does not work, involve lawyers (but try amicably first!)
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#7 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 11:28 PM
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Yes to those links!!! Is your therapist skilled at working with gifted kids? Gifted kids are soooo often mislabeled with mental illnesses, when in reality they're just having trouble dealing with all the things that tend to go along with being gifted that most people don't know about - like being super-sensitive to social cues that others simply don't notice. If a child notices that people don't treat him the same way and others don't notice it, which can often be the case with gifted kids, it can cause some serious issues - especially if the adults aren't picking up on it (which happens a lot) and they're telling the kid he's imagining it or it isn't that bad or he's just plain wrong.

Bipolar disorder doesn't get better just because you homeschool. If your kid is fine when you homeschool, but not when he has to school, I highly doubt his problem is BPD. That doesn't just go away because your situation changes. The stresses involved with being gifted and the reaction to those stresses can certain change with the situation, but being bipolar absolutely cannot. Stress/stress management can definitely play a part in aggravating mental illness, but it doesn't just make it magically appear and disappear.
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#8 of 10 Old 05-11-2009, 12:02 AM
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Assuming it's bipolar, it may still be beneficial for HS. Most mental health illnesses are exarcebated by stress. The sometimes chaotic environments at school can be breeding ground for risky behaviour as well. Here's what I always say wrt to "get used to it", if your child was allergic to peanuts, would you feed them PB&J so they get used to it? How about feeding a diabetic child doughnuts? Same with mental health. Avoid triggers.
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#9 of 10 Old 05-11-2009, 03:12 AM
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Hi, this not regarding homeschooling (although I think homeschooling would be very good for your son), but the possible bipolar diagnosis. If you haven't already, please look for the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride MD. Also, research gluten and mental disorders, celiac disease and bipolar disorder, omega-3 fatty acids and bipolar disorder...there's lots of information out there about how diet can help (even heal) mental disorders.

Good luck with your decision to homeschool and hugs to you and your family.
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#10 of 10 Old 05-11-2009, 08:43 AM - Thread Starter
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My ex is a nice man and we get along very well. He just doesn't get homeschooling. He wants our DS to be "normal" and I realized quite a while ago that he's a bit different and that I need to get what is right for him and stop trying to make him fit in a box that isn't right. He thinks I have a problem with public school, but I really don't. I just think it's a bad fit for DS.

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from DS's teacher that has me particularly worried (these are just SOME examples):
At the beginning of the school year we were filling out the student information on the cover sheet of the MEAP test. We have to be very specific and as this is the first time third graders ever have to do something like this so it's always very confusing and pretty chaotic. Students must fill in their complete names and then fill in bubbles underneath each letter. I instructed students to write their complete name, no nicknames. This caused R to break down. He sobbed and shrieked in front of the class because he didn't want to have to write his full name. It didn't seem to bother him that the rest of the class was uncomfortable because of his reaction.

We had a long celebration of being drug free. One of our events was stuffed animal day. Richie had forgotten his stuffed animal at home. By the time I had picked my students up to let them inside he was crying to the point of breaking out into hives. He did not settle down and fixated on how he could get a stuffed animal until his dad brought him one 2 hours later.

What I find unique about R is that these episodes happen in front of his peers and it doesn't seem to bother him that they will see him behaving this way. It has caused him to be somewhat alienated from the class, and from what I see he really doesn't care.

R is such a great kid. He often has wonderful advice to share with classmates who bring up problems they're having at our class meetings. R shows kindness towards students in our class who don't have many friends. These instances have happened maybe once every few weeks. They may be infrequent but they have been so surprising that it concerned me so I contacted our school counselor.

Back to me:
My mother is a EI teacher and, until 2 years ago, thought it was just gifted issues, but now she thinks he needs help. She is afraid that he has high functioning AS. The therapist doesn't think so. When he is at a steady level, he is perfectly responsive and doesn't exhibit any of these behaviors. When he is up, he gets reckless and hyper. When he is down, he gets very sad and weepy. When he is in the middle, you would never know something was wrong. At home, he still has these mood swings, but I recognize them immediately and can respond. I can generally stop triggers before they start. Diet changes DO seem to help, but they do not eliminate the problem. Right now I am keeping a notebook with mood changes, and food intake. The therapist thinks that because I make things stable for him, that is why things haven't gone completely out of control. I'm hoping that I can get her on my side and help me convince my ex. I am going to look at my library system today about the books that were suggested. Does anyone out there recognize some of these issues. I've never met any other kids like my DS! LOL
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