by Sarah Walling
(Tucson, AZ, USA)

I am a 16 year old with potential SPD - we are just now in the process of getting a diagnosis, but we are 99% sure I have it.

I really struggle at school - for obvious reasons. I think switching to some sort of online school would help me a lot, but my dad doesn't want me to switch because he doesn't want me to miss out on "the high school experience" and socializing and such (not that I do any of that, but he seems to be missing the point.)

What do you think would be best for me?

The SPD Help Line Answers...

Certainly these days, there are other schooling options besides the mainstream public school system. And you would have alternatives. I completely understand and sympathize with the difficultites you must have faced all these years. I am sorry your struggles were not identified and accommodated for earlier in life. I feel strongly that a proper assessment and targeted treatment could have (and will now) madea big difference in your feelings about and success at school; both academically, emotionally and socially.

That said, I am encouraged that you are receiving an evaluation now. Through this process of trying to identify any processing difficulties you may have that may have been affecting you, you should find hope, resources, and help which may make your academic an social experiences easier, more tolerable and workable.

I encourage you not to jump out of the game too soon. You are finally on the verge of getting the professional assessments and resources you have needed all along. And, it is within the school system and through the professionals that you can get what you need to both treat and make accommodations for that which you struggle. They will get you on a good path to start, anyway.

If you were to leave the public school system for an "online school" (which, honestly, I don't know if such a thing exists) to be done on your own, you will still struggle as you have, if you do not address the underlying processing issues. Although I don't know exactly what issues are interferring, I do know they will continue without treatment.

Therefore, my recommendations for you include the following:

1. Continue where you are at until the evaluations are complete.

2. Get an additional assessment by a neuropsychologist who can further identify learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. A neuropsych

evaluation is a wonderfully comprehensive and helpful assessment to help identify any needs you have and a great tool to initiate services and treatment.

3. Get involved with the special education team at your school so they can assess your skills and needs and provide you with the help and resources that will make schooling easier for you. It is not just for lower intelligence... it is for making any accommodations you need to help you be more successful. You can even have an above average IQ!

4. Find a psychologist/therapist (familiar with SPD, preferably) tha can meet with you on a regular basis to work on your frustrations, options, emotional needs, and social skills/experiences within your comfort range and validate your struggles as well as strengths!

5. Get regular (several times a week for several months is best) treatment with a private Occupational Therapist to work on your underlying SPD. Working with a SIPT certified OT will make a big difference in your experiences and tolerance of academic, personal, and social issues.

6. You can also talk to your Dad about the possibilities of homeschooling you if that is an option. But, you would have to make sure you are also getting the therapies (i.e., OT) you additionally need while doing this. If you have questions about homeschooling, you can contact my friend and colleague Michelle Morris at She can help answer some of your questions and direct you to the resources you would need.

7. Join our adolescent and adult SPD online support group so you have others to talk to, brainstorm with, and find the resources you may need to help you through all of this. Here's the link: SPD Adult SHARE.

8. Get a copy of the book, The Mislabeled Child. It is an incredible book that will explain a lot and provide you with the information and resources you need at this point. I highly recommend it!

9. Lastly, make the rest of this school year about assessments and getting the resources you need for treatment. Do this first, THEN make decisions about schooling after receiving the help you need, ok?

You are on the right track... keep going and fighting for what you need to be successful. I am proud of you for searching for this information!

Anyone else have any input? Sarah would be grateful!! You can comment in the box below. Thanks in advance.

Take good care.
Michele Mitchell

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Feb 05, 2008
Thanks for Sharing
by: Anonymous

Hi Sarah,
Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is just give ourselves a break. What would you tell a friend who was in your shoes? I bet you would be kind and understanding. I bet you would tell her you appreciate that she's not like everyone else and maybe that's exactly what you'd like about her. Maybe your Dad's idea of the High School experience is completely not your reality but you are learning important things about yourself, how you deal with people, stress, what is important to Sarah.

I hope you celebrate your new knowledge of having SPD that no you are not unintelligent, no you are not just being difficult, that you are a human being like all other human beings just trying to get through life. Have faith in yourself, thank goodness you're not perfect; perfect doesn't make for good stories, and life if done right is full of great stories :)

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