Hi there. I'm going to ask Sandman to read this and respond. He was a high school principal and is the community leader of the ADHD forum. I know that your son has not been diagnosed with ADHD but he will have a lot of useful information just from his own personal experiences as a teacher/principal. Hang in there. I'm sure he will respond soon. JGF
Oh man, have you guys been let down by the medical community.
What make it tough to help your son is that unless you and HE know what/why things are going on the way they are - all you can do is to keep beating your head against the wall.
Starting with the docs who ruled out AD/HD when he was 13. How did they rule it out? The ONLY correct way to diagnose AD/HD is through questionaires to the parents and the school. If this was not done, then it means they only interviewed him. That not only does not follow the clinical guidelines, it usually is not very accurate. If he does have AD/HD, its probably more like ADD as if he was hyper, they would have picked that up.
One thing that you and he might be interested in checking out is this site. Its basically an ADD site aimed at adults. The videos he has to watch are very good at explaining ADD and how it can effect you. The point is - if he does have something like ADD, that would not only explain a lot - there are then a lot of strategies (besides meds) that can help. The site is
And, yes, he does sound like he could have SPD. It is not unusual to have both that and ADD for that matter. Here is a good link dealing with both conditions -
And this link deals more with adult SPD and it mentions two books that might be worth looking at since OT's don't do a lot of work with adults -
This is probably the best overall site on sensory I have found on the web. While it is aimed more at the younger person, it does a good job of explaining how sensory can affect you in school. That is important as that might help you son understand why he has had problems in school.
Oh, and I did a quick search of the above site on sleep and found that getting to sleep is a common problem (as well with AD/HD when they just can't turn off their minds). Here is the link on sleep.
By the way, I have some very good friends who live in Port Townsend, WA - not as far north as you, but still not a lot of day light. They have installed a lot of those special lights (especially in the kitchen) to help with seasonal affective disorder. They said it makes a difference.
And ya, he does sound depressed. Depression (as well as anxiety) is a very common side disorder of AD/HD (see the videos or look at some of the posts in Jeffsadddmind). And lack of sunlight definitely does not help. Depending on the type of depression - medication for depression may not help and could make things worse. Knowing what you have got and specifically treating it is what makes the difference.
So what do you do?
First, have your husband read this.
Second, have you son read this.
Then sit down and come up with a plan. Obviously, some of the stuff you have tried has not worked. Thats fine, thats how you learn. Its only if you keep repeating the stuff that isn't working - thats not good.
Personal opinion - what you have tried to do to get him to sleep at night - limiting computer time, etc. Isn't dealing with the problem of why he isn't able to sleep. Sleep is extremely important!!!! There is nothing that can screw up your day, your grades, your attitude more then lack of sleep. I have numerous links to sleep stuff, but this one is pretty good.
So come up with a plan to deal with the sleep problems. He needs 8 hours and he is the one who needs (with your help) to figure out how to get it. It will take some trial and error and as he will be trying to change a learned behavior.
The next thing is to figure out (if possible) what is going on. I think that all family members will be more understanding if it turns out that at least some of his problems are not due to his decisions. Stick some of those videos from jeffsaddmind up on the tv and watch them together. See if they make sense.
Oh, I am curious if the docs when he was 13 used questionaires or not?
Wow, I have given you guys a lot of homework. Good thing you have long nights up there :)
In all seriousness, you have tried - but I think that lack of info has been a big factor in the problems. Its pretty hard to make something better if you don't know whats wrong.
Anyway, I can help, please ask. This really is just more of a start. Best wishes!!!
Please read and research what Sandman said. He is so incredibly knowledgeable about these things and I agree that it needs to be a family affair. You can't have one person sitting on the sidelines while the others are trying to work it out. Good luck!
Good article here on dealing with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) - http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/arm-yourself-against-sad-0921155
What a great compilation of information Sandman!
To the OP - there are more parents than you know of who have kids who struggle like yours does. Some school districts have alternate programs that they can complete and graduate with the very minimal coursework.
People along the way will tell you well, it's up to him. He's an adult now. Let him fail, it will teach him to succeed.
It won't. He can fail at a lot of stuff, but he CAN NOT be allowed to fail at getting a high school diploma or equivalent. He can't. He MUST have that, if it requires daily work on your part to help him meet that goal.
Best wishes. If kids just followed the advise we give them, their lives would be a piece of cake. Too bad it doesn't work that way. ;D
Many things you mentioned suggest Bipolar II. I have two children who were diagnosed at 8 and 5 years of age. We had such similar experiences, you could be talking about my kids. The sleep problems, the seasonal shift in mood, the stubbornness. Also, your history of migraines and fibromyalgia suggest genetic loading. The specialist who seemed to know the disorder best called it "an inherited, organic, neurotransmitter disorder". He didn't think it was proper to put the label of "Bipolar" on such young kids, and I was in agreement with him, as they weren't classic presentations. I agree that sleep is the most important thing right now, for his health more than for school. Also, make sure that you safeguard your relationship with your son. He knows that he frustrates you and makes you worry and makes you mad. Make sure he feels your love. He can always go to adult school to pick up whatever credits he needs for his diploma. His health and well-being are the important things.
It sounds to me as if your son is an "owl' and not a "lark" as you and your husband are. And, unfortunately, there is no "cure" for being an "owl". Have his sleep cycle tested - you say that he "sleeps very soundly" and that he is depressed a lot. (Lack of "restful" sleep can make a person depressed.) If he IS an "owl", have the doctor explain that this is something your son can deal with once he graduates high school as it is unlikely that your district will offer night classes. Also, too much computer time can disrupt a person's sleep cycle - "lark" or "owl".