By the time Kyle entered into middle school tension was riding high at home. Yes, he did a lot of typical teenage stuff, such as being defiant and talking snotty, but there was always this undercurrent of… something. Kyle’s attitude always had this weird twist to it that was different from other typical teenage behaviors. Part of this also stemmed from the fact that he didn’t care if he got grounded, because he had no friends to hang out with. He wasn’t picked on and shunned, but simply unable to make the connections necessary to make and keep a friend.
Kyle would have a very rough go of it during middle school. His disconnection with fellow students would manifest into overreactions of violence, eventually getting him kicked out – twice. All during this time he simply wouldn’t participate in therapy and be honest about his emotions except to say that sometimes he got angry.
Increasingly defiant, he simply refused to follow the rules at home. Several times I had caught him with my Nintendo DS after he had been grounded from playing videogames. Not only had he taken my handheld without asking, but he had lost the stylus and was using a key to play. This was just one small example of his continued defiance at home.
Summer after middle school was long and difficult. We had a tutor for Kyle, and he wound up defacing the bathroom and stealing a lunch out of the refrigerator. He still refused to fully participate in therapy. His therapist, our second, one who specialized in angry children, had mentioned that he had come across about a half dozen or so kids like Kyle and had no success with them and didn’t have any recommendations.
Laura and I had been reading a lot of books about teens and what to do with them, and over the years we only got more and more discouraged. Nothing was working. Kyle’s answer to everything was to be left alone and further withdraw from everybody. A few indications towards the end of what would be his 8th grade seemed to point towards Kyle having something called Attachment Disorder. While the only formal diagnosis Kyle had was ADD (in the second grade) everybody from school counselors to teachers to therapists seemed to have an opinion as to what Kyle had. People tossed out Bi-Polar, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive Development Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and plenty more.
We switched therapists again, and this one who specializes in Attachment Disorder seemed to be making headway with Kyle. Of course this all came at a price. His 9th grade year would start off well enough, but quickly disintegrate into another series of incidents. He trespassed onto construction sites, lied continually about things that he didn’t need to, stole, acted defiantly, refused to follow directions from us and his teachers, and more. Eventually one of his teachers a couple of months into the school year called to say that he wasn’t doing so well because he wasn’t following directions. I remarked that whatever punishment they deemed appropriate we would back them up. Turns out he wouldn’t be able to finish the school year there.