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Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Posted by sueb20 (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 17:28

I'm hoping not to get into too much detail here, partly because it's just such a long and involved story, but I'm wondering if any of you (or someone you know) has had any experience with Outward Bound type experiences. I wonder if my 22 yo DS would benefit. I was looking at the Wingate Wilderness Program online, which seems more therapy-based. That is what he needs, though he isn't a substance abuser so we aren't looking for that angle. He has a superior verbal IQ but some significant processing issues, which he has learned to hide quite well by building up "defenses." He is sort of aimless, is already engaged in therapy 1-2x/week, living at home after a disastrous attempt to live on his own (with roommates), dropped out of college after one semester and has had 3 jobs in the past 18 months -- two of which he quit, one from which he was fired. There's a lot more to the story but that gives you a general sense of where we are. Everything seems to be one step forward, two steps back. Just thinking now that while it seems like we have tried everything (and are continuing), the wilderness type program isn't something we had considered.

Any experiences?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Try N.O.L.S if you are looking for something that's not therapy based. Sometimes just getting them into something that challenges them physically and puts them into a group environment where they have to become part of a productive community helps to flip a switch. You and I have similar sons.

Here is a link that might be useful: NOLS


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

I think therapy based IS what he needs...

And maybe you and I should form a support group!


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Ohhhh! Well, we should talk - I have experience with both types of programs. You really have to do your homework - it's a slippery slope. And since he's not a minor, he has to be on board with a therapy based program - you can't force him to go and even if he goes willingly, once there if he changes his mind at any point, he can walk out.


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Have you looked at Outward Bound itself? I went on a 3-week program many, many years ago. Some kids in the group had been sent to "sober up" but there were lots of different reasons folks were there (I liked hiking). There were definitely ups and downs but overall I think most folks had a great experience.
Good luck.


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Dlm, I don't even know if he'd be willing to do this and I also haven't talked to the therapist yet to see if he thinks it's a good idea. Of course everything looks great online, including (yes, I looked at) Outward Bound. Just wondered if anyone had actually BTDT. Of course, everyone I know has typical, functional kids so they don't have experience here.

Mostly I think he needs some kind of intense, "aha" experience to shake him out of this apathetic zone he's in and, I think we all need a break from each other to be perfectly honest.


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Would a vocational program work? I don't have experience with the programs you mentioned, but do have a nephew on the autism spectrum. I know, different than your son, but similar issues.

He did not do well in regular school but did well in vocational. What they found was that he was artistic (Stained glass) was good at carpentry and had good fine motor skills. He learned how to make hearing aids and did that for many years.Presently he has his own business online selling his photography. Last I heard, he was making more money than he did working full time.

I feel for you. Even under the best circumstances, kids have a hard time finding their way.

It is hard standing by and seeing your son not live up to his potential. Also difficult is that you don't have friends to commiserate with or exchange tragedies.

Good luck. I am rooting for you.

This post was edited by ellendi on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 20:44


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Sue,
I did a sailing outward bound course in Maine when I was 21. It was life changing for me, but I did not have the same sort of issues as your son. For me, it taught me that I was strong (physically and emotionally.) It helped me overcome some fears, develop leadership skills and learn things about myself and how I relate to others. Because I had such a good experience I sent my son on a program when he was 13 (developed specifically for boys of that age) and his experience was not so great (perhaps he was not quite ready). Just thought I would chime in...but my course was over 30 years ago!
Judy
whose son is also a little bit of a struggling 21 year old...I feel your pain


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

I would think his therapist would/should be knowledgeable about programs that would be a good fit. Another resource might be your county mental health agency.


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I have no personal experience with Outward Bound but know people who do. From what I understand the program has become something of a drop off for troubled teens which was not the original intent. It makes for a difficult experience for someone who does not have 'issues' and gets in the way of them really being able to experience all the positive aspects that jmck had.

My son did a trip with Wilderness Adventures when he was in high school - they also have college age programs. He also did a 'stint' in a wilderness therapy program, and a therapeutic school, and and and..... I had no resources among friends when I was going through this either. It is a tough road to go it alone.


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Dlm, we had parent groups and I knew other parents of children with "issues" when he was younger, but it's so different when the children become so-called adults. DH and I do see a counselor (who used to be DS' therapeutic teacher when he was much younger so she's known us all for years) who is helping us a lot in terms of what to expect or not expect from DS (and also putting a lot of his behavior in perspective) and DS is seeing a dr. who is highly recommended and who he likes a lot (which is key!). We have been warned by both that this is going to be a long, bumpy road. Just thought maybe an outdoor program might be a nice detour!


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Sueb, no experience with such programs but experience with a challenging child with some similarities to what you describe and MANY friends who have been through similar experiences. So when you say "Of course, everyone I know has typical, functional kids so they don't have experience here," I'll bet that is less true than you know. I hope you find a good program and wish the best for you and your family!


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Exactly.


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My 28 year old son is another one. He's very smart and talented but unmotivated. His high school years were hell, coupled by the fact that we divorced when he was 15 and he and I moved from CA to Oregon. I developed anxiety from it all. What helped was that he moved back to CA after HS graduation, so the behavior wasn't in my face every day. I also was able to stop supporting his do-nothing behavior and resenting it. I have accepted that it is his choice to have a lifestyle that barely supports him, and if he ever gets tired of that, he'll find a way to educate or train himself for a career. It's taken me almost 10 years to accept that he is who he is, and it does bring peace of mind.

What helped his overall attitude about life was parkour. He is not a team-sports guy but has always been physical. It has taught him discipline and has opened up a network of friends who are also disciplined. He belongs to a Northern California parkour group that have meet-ups at college campuses, so many of the members are college students. And it also helps that he has a GF who graduated from UC and is ambitious, though a little Bohemian herself. Hope she never gets tired of him!

I hope your son can find the thing that he can be passionate about and you can find some peace of mind.


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Oh right, I didn't mean really that "everyone I know" has typical kids, I just meant that my friends/confidantes do. They are very supportive but their kids are all in the range of normal!

DS is passionate about a few things and fortunately has found friends with similar interests but his passion is filmmaking -- not an easy career to jump into even though he is a talented editor, particularly when you don't really have the skills to be a real go-getter.

Thanks...good to know that some of my GW pals can empathize.


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Count me as another one who understands what you are dealing with. My grandson is twenty one and has issues that I can not comprehend. His IQ is 86 and he has a hard time learning things. His parents believed that there was nothing that can't be accomplished by determination and hard work. He doesn't like to work hard and is happy to just get by. I fear he will be living with us forever, working in fast food, and riding his bike everywhere. My therapist said it isn't unusual for kids today to not really grow up until their late twenties. In my day, (I'm 68) many of us got married between 18-20 and lived on our own. She says my grandson may be in his early thirties before he grows up.

I would love to get him in a program where he can see that he is smarter, stronger, and more capable than he thinks.


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Not a son, but a grandson. My oldest DD moved from Ca to Tx since myself and her other 4 siblings had moved away, and she wanted, as well as needed to be with family. At the time, GS was 17, and stayed back in Ca since he was in a juvenile detention center for 'possession of a controlled substance' as well as being involved with breaking into a car. He's a very smart young man, and now at the age of 19, realizes his stupidity. He been in Tx, living with myself and his Mom, and inspite of telling us he's 'been looking for a job' but has yet to find one~It was a year in April. I paid for one semester of out-of-state tuition at the jr. college to 'get him out' and hopefully find out that going to school and working are what kids his age 'do'. He has what I call a Ca attitude~aka, better than you and cooler too!~which hasn't helped in making/keeping friends. I paid for 3 months in an apartment, for him as well as a boy he knew from Ca and living in Houston who wanted to move to Austin. During that time neither boy found a job. DD paid the last 3 months, and the friend returned to Ca with hopes of 'getting a fresh start'(?). GS moved back with myself/DD, but I can't tolerate his unmotivated behavior , except when it involves going to the gym, and making smoothies with organic produce DD seems to have no problem buying because he 'getting healthy'~she pays the $10 per month for the gym also.

He left to visit his Dad back in Ca 3 weeks ago, and called DD onSunday saying he's 'ready to come home'. We like the idea that he is thinking of Tx as his home, but coming back and doing nothing is not an option! DD doesn't want him to come back unless he 'promises to find a job', but I've 'informed' her that he won't be coming back to my home. She's talked to her brother who also lives in Austin and has his own home, if son can come snd stay with him 'for awhile'. My son has said he would allow him to come and stay for 4 weeks, but realistically, there is no way in hell he can find a job and have enough saved for his own place .

I've told DD I'm 'off the merry-go-round' and not getting back on again! I don 't know what she has told her son at this point, but she needs to 'get strong ' and not support him any longer, but is too consumed with the what if's. His father doesn't work, and is a semi-functional alcoholic, who we think could also be bi-polar as well as have other mental issues. GS has a hard time dealing with him, as he talks 'constant nonsense' which drives GS crazy~this is his present situation back in Ca, which isn't good. There are no other relatives who will help out but it could be because of GS previous history.

So that's my story, and sue20, didn't mean to hi-jack your thread, but it sounds as though you 're on the same merry-go-round ride as myself! If anyone has any answers, suggestions, like sue, I sure could use then!


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Patty....good for you for saying enough. Your daughter probably knows deep down she needs to do the same, and I get it's tough to make that call; however, she is not doing him any favors in the long run. She is not teaching him to stand on his own two feet and find his way in the world. He has no incentive to do just that when Mom and Grandma are giving him free apartments, gym memberships and expensive organic produce. Suddenly he's 25 and still taking $ from Mom. I would give him 3 options----work full time, go to school full time, or work part time and go to school part time. And working may mean cleaning carpets, flipping burgers, or moving furniture. We all started at these types of jobs as teens. All the while he is living at home and taking out the garbage, keeping his room tidy, mowing the lawn, etc...until he has saved enough to live on his own or graduated and found an adult job. He's been looking for a job for 15 months and can't find one? Just what is he doing every day to find a job? He's playing you two like a fiddle sad to say. And I would really try to limit contact with his father as much as possible....he is not a good role model. Good luck to all of you.


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Met with therapist tonight who said nope, not a good idea for DS at this time. So, carry on, but thanks for sharing your experiences with me!


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Aww Sue I'm sorry. After you posted I thought of several people in similar situations. Hopefully the therapist had some other suggestions that were helpful.


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Sue....I hope he makes progress with his therapy. My heart goes out to any parent dealing with children with problems.

Last year DD decided to move in with her recently divorced college roommate. No signs of anything in college, but once DD moved in, "Cathy's" behavior became increasingly erratic. It got so bad DD feared for her life and had to get out. Cathy is bipolar and would go on and off meds. Her parents have been to hell and back. Apparently she now takes her meds regularly and is doing much better...working and planning on grad school.

There is hope...please keep us posted on how he's doing.


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Basically we just need to hang in there. He is seeing a dr. 1-2 times a week (well, he's supposed to -- sometimes he cancels without telling us because he doesn't "feel up to it"). He is the king of denial and avoidance. When things get tough at home, he just leaves and stays with a friend for several days. And when I say "tough at home" I'm not even talking about big fights. Last time, it was because he told us he quit his job (a week after he did it, after lying and saying he was going to work when he wasn't) and I cried a tiny little bit in frustration. He left that night and didn't come back until 4 days later and explained that he was "pissed" that I showed emotion. So that's the sort of nonsense we have to deal with. The plan is to keep on the therapy as #1 priority and attempt to give him the structure he needs -- which isn't easy when he isn't accepting it. I thought it was tough 10 years ago but it's so much harder when they are adults and you can't make them do anything.

OTOH, if you met him, you'd think he was a super intelligent and engaging young man, and he can be that way with us too. He just also happens to be the most frustrating person I've ever met!


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I'm concerned about the therapist. I know you said your son likes him but he skips out when he feels like it.
Please don't take this the wrong way but I'm sure you know therapy is a business. It's how some people earn their living. Long term clients pay the bills.
What is the vocational plan for your son?


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Sue - do you use the College Confidential forum? The parent's section can be very helpful with questions like yours.

I see that that therapist feels that he is not ready to leave home yet but for later on, have you considered any programs with a mission component? I don't know of any specifics but it seems that it might be helpful for your son to gain some perspective about the advantages that your family has presented to him.


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

So, I've been observing this thread, not because of a similar situation, but because I have seen some friends go through similar problems with their nearly-adult children. Now, I too am a little concerned because, unless I missed something, the therapist hasn't offered any alternative suggestions to what seemed to be a great idea for at least a temporary break if nothing else for your son. Yeah, your son says he likes the therapist. Then why doesn't he show up for the appointments?

We do have an ADHD son (now in his 40's) who functions quite well but does not need structure at all. He didn't thrive until he was out of high school, took EMT training and worked for a while and then started college at age 20. By then he was on his own more and could set his routines, classes, etc to suit. Maybe your son is trying to get away from the structured routines that he thinks are being forced on him at this stage of his life.

I am not a psychologist by any stretch, and maybe I'm reading too much into what has been said. If so, please forgive.


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

On the heels of what ellendi said....it did occur to me that the therapist nixing your idea of a residential program would also mean he wouldn't be losing income while your son is away. Only you can determine if his explanation for your son not going made sense.

Have you talked with your son about trying one of these programs? How does he feel about it? As an adult it would be his decision to go or not and if he is interested I don't think you have anything to lose since he is not working at the moment.

I hope this situation gets better for everyone involved.


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Sue,

I have a nephew and a know of a neighbor's son that have presented similar frustrations. There was even a very dumb movie about it ... "Failure to Launch"?

It kind of leaves many of us scratching our head, because I don't remember any kids like this when we were growing up. So a lot of us who haven't been through it think it is just about "tough love". But oddly these kids don't seem to respond to that.

Anyway, I did have some thoughts I wanted to share. First of all, kudos to you for dealing with stress with a few tears, and not,say, a cast iron frying pan! That is what tears are for!

Second of all, it is easy for outsider to demonize these kids when they cause people we care about such pain. I know I have terrible anger toward my nephew for hurting my sister. OTOH, I am really trying to be more empathetic to him. My view on skipping therapy? It is hard work to be in therapy. It's draining. I would imagine it's normal for people to do that. Not great, but normal. To be expected from time to time over the process.

I also wanted to say I applaud the idea of some time off from each other, even if your particular plan is not something you can implement now. But the concept of time off is an important one. You need to make sure you nurture yourself, your marriage, your two other children. One, because it makes you more effective. And, two, because you have a right to your life.

Lastly, I wanted to offer hope. The aha moments do occur. I have seen it. You never know what it will be or when, but they DO happen. The headmaster at my son's school gave a talk about adolescent development once, and I will try to paraphrase a very interesting point he made (I may get it wrong, so, experts jump in!).

Anyway, he said that the frontal lobe of your brain, which provides impulse control, is not fully developed until age 25 (not surprisingly perhaps, the minimum age at which you can rent a car). He also said there is some evidence that, several generations ago, when we were marrying at 16, say, our frontal lobe developed sooner than it does today.

Hang in there, SueB. One day, it will happen, and his innate intelligence and your years of good parenting will set him on a better path.


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ellendi. Sorry, I was trying to be brief because I could go on and ON about the last 22 years. The therapist DH and I are seeing is the one who pointed out that shipping DS off at this particular time is not a great idea. We are finally getting him into a (somewhat) regular therapy situation and he should continue with it. And I pretty much knew that was the answer.

If we had a vocational plan, I'd tell you about it. That's a whole other story. He wants to do video editing. Obviously not a ton of FT jobs in that area so the "plan" was that he would work a PT job while doing projects/gigs on the side. Seemed like a good beginning. He got his PT job and all was fine except they had him actually working almost FT hours and he isn't proactive enough to say excuse me, I really wanted to work 20 hours a week... so he had no time for projects and instead of trying to figure out a better plan, he quit (without discussing it with anyone first). So we are back to square one and we are also about to go on vacation, so the "plan" is on hold until the middle of August.

outside, he likes the therapist but the therapy is hard work -- he is being made to face some things that are hard to look at, and he is 22 going on 12 in a lot of respects. And as I said, he is the king of denial.

When I say "structure" I mean it very loosely -- showing up for appts., that sort of thing. What he does benefit from is the structure of a job (or school, when he was in school). At the moment, the only structure being imposed on him is a weekly appt.-- and he made the appt. himself.

Dee, something with a mission component might be a good idea, someday. Maybe. I should look at CC. I haven't looked there since we were looking at colleges for him.

I have not talked about the programs with him because I wanted info about it for myself before bringing it up to him. The therapist we talked to last night felt that a better option might be a class(es) in video production nearby. I don't think he will ever get a degree because he is so "done" with traditional school. He has one semester of a liberal arts education, a one-year certificate in digital filmmaking from a reputable program, and a summer's worth of workshops at Maine Media Workshops. Also a summer at NY Film Academy and a summer at a film program at Emerson College. If there's a program for hands-on film work that he hasn't already covered in the Boston area, I'm not aware of it!

The disability he has is probably more complex than I have described but I have already gotten into more detail than I planned to and I'd be surprised if anyone was still reading to this point! ;)


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You still have my attention because I deal with it,too. I would love to hear your son's diagnosis but I understand if you don't want to share that. My grandson doesn't have insurance and we can only afford to do so much on our retirement income.
What I have learned from this discussion is that we need to expect more of him. We (I) tend to treat him more like a child than I should. I started off today by telling him he'd have to clean and clear out his room before I'd hire an exterminator to clear out the spiders he thinks are invading. I've seen no evidence of them. He thought I was unreasonable to ask him to clean first. If I seriously thought there were poisonous spiders in there I would be more proactive.


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IMO many of the issues discussed in here are due to problem ownership issues.

If having a successful child is essential to a parent, they will often be overinvested in their adult child's problems, which in essence allows the child to stay a child and allow the parent/s to own his or her problems.

Of course young people with deficits of one sort or another are a concern, but if they have capabilities that allow them to adapt to the larger culture, those may not be tapped if an easier way is provided by a doting parent.

Additionally, parents who have done their best to raise an independent, resourceful child deserve a break from that role once the child is an adult.

IMO this thread is a warning to anyone raising a child without eventual independence in mind. Even toddlers can learn, for example, to budget if provided with a small allowance to cover items that might otherwise be gifted to him or her, and other responsibilities can gradually be added as the child grows. Where this is not done, a youth that expects to be waited on can be the result.


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Eibren, IMO this thread is about Outward Bound program for young adults. But since few of us know anything at all about that, it has morphed into a thread about young adults who are not meeting parents expectations.

All if these stories and people are different. I doubt there is a knowledgable involved parent here whose goal is not independent children. You have zero information to lay these issues at the feet of "doting parents".

As a point of discussion, the issues you raise are interesting. But, within this thread, I find the suggestion that children are parent's "fault", off-putting. Human brings present with an infinite array of traits. They are not necessarily anyone's doing just because they may not align with 21st century US ideals.


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Thank you, mtn.


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I don't think what Sue has described is a kid who is just a slacker, lazy, and wanting to mooch off mom and dad for as long as possible. Clearly there has been a diagnosis and whatever it is it's impeding his abilities. There is a big difference. Sue and her husband would be remiss in using "tough love" on him. I don't think she is a doting parent making excuses for her son. I sense there is nothing more she would love than to see him working in the field of his choice, living on his own, doing all the things young 20's do. He's just not capable of that right now. Hopefully, therapy will get him there.

Sorry I'm talking about you in the third person Sue!


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And thank you, Joanie. You and mtn said it better than I could have. I was just going to point out that, where my kid is concerned, eibren has no idea what s/he is talking about.

Peaceofmind, he doesn't have a totally clear-cut diagnosis but it's very similar to nonverbal learning disorder except that his high numbers are higher than typical NVLD kids and his low numbers are lower. My simple explanation for his situation is that he can talk the talk, but he can't walk the walk.


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Eibren, you make child raising sound so cut and dried. Do *you* have children or are you just a 'spokesperson'? No offense, but unless you've had/have children, especially a child with issues, past or present, you really can't understand the level of anxiety, not to mention every other emotion.

I don't recall Sue mentioning the importance of her son's success per se, unless you consider the wants of a Mother who speaks only of some sort of normalcy toward direction as 'success '.

You're post seems very textbook-like IMO.


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I had a feeling this would become one of Those Threads, which is why I have been hesitant in the past to say too much about this whole situation here. I can understand how it could look like we're enabling a slacker if you don't have the whole story, but I can assure anyone who's wondering that that is not the case. And my typically-developing kids are proving to be very independent and "together" so I am pretty sure I'm doing something right as a parent.

Anyway, I started out being simply curious as to whether anyone here had had experience with one of these wilderness programs, and I got some answers, so we can probably end this here (particularly since it has been decided that shipping him off into the woods at this time is not in his best interests).

I sincerely appreciate all of the supportive responses.


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SueB - my heart goes out to you. I have a 21 year old son with a disability. He is extremely bright and struggles with executive function skills among other things. He barely made it through one year of college, and has been taking night courses and living at home since. He is socially awkward and has an on-line addiction (my words, not his!). He is in therapy for all of these things. Just curious, since I believe you are in the Boston area - have ever heard Sarah Ward speak? She is a speech pathologist who speaks at a lot of PTOs, etc. and she really helped me better understand my son's struggles in a different light. It is SO hard to have an adult child living at home when you worry every day about what comes next. I, too, have thought about a wilderness-type course to help my son detox from his on-line stuff, but his therapist recommended a different approach to help him develop internal motivation to change his habits. But I often wonder if getting him in a totally different environment would help. I know there are lots of moms like us out there - I am trying to figure out how to get support for myself! Finally, you are dead right that your parenting skills should not be questioned. Like you, I have other kids that I parent exactly the same way who do not share any of my son's struggles. I have long ago learned to ignore people who think or suggest that my parenting is the source of his struggles. Also, I am proud to say that I am a much better and more informed parent as a result of having a child with a disability and I am sure you can say the same!


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SueB - just curious about something since you mentioned NVLD. What are your sons friendships like? Does he seem to have stable friendships or are they subject to a higher than expected degree of drama, for lack of a better word? Are his friendships all male or a mix of male/female? Do you notice a difference in the drama level or stability of the relationships he has with males vs with females?


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Parenting non-neurotypical children is at least as exhausting as parenting ill or physically handicapped children. Frequently it's a lifelong endeavor, which becomes most difficult just when other parents are winding down and beginning a well-deserved rest. And yet, instead of being buoyed by empathy, assistance and caring the way parents of ill children are, these parents face skepticism and judgement everywhere they turn. It seems to me that's what is happening here a bit with Eibren.

I'm glad sueb, that you are working with a therapist you trust, and that your ds likes his doctor. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for him (and you) to navigate life now, without the structure of school. I don't have any personal experience with OB, which is why I haven't weighed in here previously. But just wanted to post now and tell you that there are many, many parents of neurotypical children who think you're doing a helluva job in exhausting circumstances.

Here is a link that might be useful: Anatomical evidence of NVLD


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These last few posts are why I LOVE this forum.


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RE: Outward bound type programs for young adults?

Deee, me too. Thank you, everyone.

Marina, I hadn't heard of Sara Ward but just looked up her web site. I will keep an eye on her site to see if she's speaking anywhere around me.

dlm, good question with a long answer but will try to be brief. Lots of difficulty with friendship until he was in HS. He was in special ed schools until HS, then went to a regular HS but very small and welcoming to kids with "learning differences." Anyway, he found some good friends there and has held onto a couple of them. Then when he went to college briefly, he made a couple of friends who he is still friends with. In the last two years he has really managed to find a few good friends who are quirky but functioning (I mean, none of them are teachers or lawyers, but they are working musicians or artists or bartenders....). Mostly guys but he does have a couple of girls who are friends. He has had a couple of girlfriends and the last one was a disaster of epic proportions but I won't say more about that here. Most of the friends he's made over the past 2-3 years have been a few years older than him. All have their own apts. so he mainly goes to their places and we don't really see them, so it's hard to describe the dynamics of these relationships. When we do meet his friends, they always seem quirky but very nice.

I think the linked article explains NLD/NVLD pretty well. DS doesn't have every feature, but definitely has most, including physical awkwardness (never played sports, trips up or down stairs, etc), OCD tendencies, dominates conversations, lousy hygiene, etc. Some of the features he had when he was younger but not as much now, possibly because he has been in therapy since he was 6 years old!?

Here is a link that might be useful: description


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