Schooling Alternatives for an ADD 8th grader
October 15, 2008 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for alternative/private schools for a 13-year-old ADD child (Boston Area), plus ancillary questions.

My son's 13, and in 8th grade in a very good public school system (Belmont, MA). He's brilliant--something we already know and that his teachers confirm--but even with the support his mother and I give him, along with the more-than-expected support from his school (which even goes beyond what's recommended in his IEP), he's still had trouble over the years tuning in at all during class, instilling in himself needed organizational skills, remembering to write assignments down, and so on... all the hallmarks of an ADD kid.

We have had our son try Ritalin (and other similar medications) in the past, with mixed results: his grades and concentration improved markedly, but while he appreciated that window, he really didn't like the jittery side effects, and also feared the (real) stigma of being a "ritalin kid". So while we still consider the Rit an option for the future, it's not on the table presently. Also, he is not hyperactive--energetic, ebullient, enthusiastic, yes, but not ADHD.

We've often mulled over the idea of enrolling him in a private school, so this leads me to Question 1: Do you know of any high schools in the Boston area whose curricula and philosophy fit well with ADD-types?

(As an aside, knowing myself to exhibit many ADD qualities, I found that most of the ADD-type symptoms which had been stumbling blocks for me academically vanished when I hit puberty. On the other hand, I went to an all-boys Catholic school, something which we're not considering for our son. Also, a relative attended the Landmark School in Beverly, and while that was great for his own range of learning disabilities, we don't think that a place like Landmark would be appropriate for our son. Same thing with the Sudbury-Valley-type schools; while we like the idea, and actually had him try-out Sudbury Valley for a week, we didn't think it'd work well for our son, as ADD kids usually benefit more from routines, fixed schedules, etc.)

Immediately, our second question is the financial aid one. What's the best way to go about applying to a potentially costly private institution, knowing full well that we don't have the financial resources to cover even a portion of the bill? One relative advised us (paraphrasing here) that, "Everyone pays their own way the first year, and then applies for financial aid and scholarships, which are much easier to come by once the kid is established in the school/community." Is there truth to that, and are there workarounds?

For the long-term, we also wonder which colleges out there would be ADD-friendly. For instance, I've been told that Goddard College is good for kids like ours, but also, I've been told to be wary of more unstructured schools (such as Bennington, his mom's alma mater), for the same reasons a Sudbury-Valley-style high school wouldn't appeal to us. I'm taking my son to a college fair tonight, and it'd be nice to know which tables to hit first.

So: where should we be looking so that we can get our son into an environment where he can tap the great, wild potential he has?

Thanks, hivemind!
posted by not_on_display to Education (2 answers total)
Landmark College is the place I've always heard of in the Northeast for kids with various learning disabilities. I know they're often hiring librarians. You might want to call the library there and see if you can find some stats about where the kids from the Northeast came from high school-wise. They're even accessible via chatmachine.
posted by jessamyn at 6:03 PM on October 15, 2008

While this may not help you directly, the Patrick O'Hearn elementary school in Dorchester is considered to be one if not the best school in the country in terms of inclusion. Bill Henderson, the principal is one of the driving reasons why. You might call and ask where he would recommend.
posted by plinth at 6:18 AM on October 16, 2008

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