Choosing to homeschool my son with ADHD and dyslexia

Let me start this post with an honest confession—I never imagined I’d ever homeschool my child, and couldn’t understand why so many people choose that route. I assumed that it was just for people who were unhappy with their kids not having religion as part of their public education and yet didn’t choose private school. It seemed like a crazy idea to me, especially since my son has ADHD and the idea of trying to teach him at home sounded like legitimate torture for all parties involved. I scoffed at the thought of it.

But here I sit, working on a plan for homeschooling Jack. Writing this post counts as working on a plan, because it’s helping me process the whole situation. I’m sad that Jack won’t be going to his elementary school anymore, because we used to love it and as recently as a month ago we wouldn’t have imagined why we’d do anything different. So much has changed in the past two months that it’s hard to keep up with at times.

For one thing, I’ve only been on Adderall XR for adult ADHD since the end of August, and I’ve had to readjust my identity and, with that, how to manage my symptoms with the medication and my cognitive processes. Seemingly everything about how I previously functioned without ADHD medication has changed. My productivity has increased, mainly because I’m able to work all day and organize my tasks and time appropriately. I used to need to take a nap every morning, and sometimes I’d need to rest in the late afternoon, too. I’d jump from project to project, not really getting anything accomplished—at least not the things that I actually needed to do. I’m now productive all day and my quality of life has improved.

That’s a huge part of why I believe that we can make things work with Jack. It makes no sense to me to let him stay at this school that he hates—filled with adults he either doesn’t trust or doesn’t feel comfortable talking to when he’s upset, feeling alienated and rejected by his peers, and become more discouraged by the day. Why would I do that? I’m an impulsive person, and I can see how outsiders might consider this decision impulsive, but it feels like a good decision. Like last year, when we decided not to wait for the school to test him for learning disorders and took him for a neuropsychological evaluation privately. We wouldn’t have learned in just 5 weeks that he has ADHD and dyslexia. Who knows when he’d have been tested? It could have taken months.

But there’s a scary factor at work in this decision, too, and it was hard for me to even admit to myself. I’m afraid that if we don’t make this move and relieve the crushing stress that Jack is dealing (poorly) with, that he might do something harmful. That he might run away again, either from school or home, and this time he might not make it home unscathed. Or at all. What if he gets desperate and does something else that’s impulsive and dangerous? Is it a chance we’re willing to take? I’ve done things during my life that were shockingly impulsive and dangerous. My son and I both have ADHD, and while he doesn’t also have bipolar disorder like me (hopefully), it scares me because I struggled and could just as easily be dead right now as writing this blog post. I totally get where he’s coming from now when he makes bad decisions.

I’m excited to have Jack at home for school. I’ll be incredibly relieved when he finishes up at his elementary school on Thursday and we’ll be done with the place. I’m so tired of talking to the people there (with a few exceptions) because it’s all bad news. Always. No one has anything good to say about my son and it’s killing us here. My heart aches for Jack, because I’d hoped for a normal life for him, one where he didn’t have to tackle the same obstacles I did. I’m looking forward to working with him, getting to know him even better, watching him learn and maybe even get excited about learning. I want him to watch me work while he works and perhaps get a better idea of what I do. And maybe he’ll figure out what he loves to do and we can work on it together.

Things are changing rapidly around here, but I think that we’re moving in the right direction. I anticipate that by the weekend there’s going to be a giant burden lifted from all of our shoulders that lets us all smile a little easier and relax. Fingers crossed!


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