Families & the Community

Wrestling with Bipolar Disorder

By Christina A. Samuels — May 27, 2008 1 min read

Bipolar disorder among adults is little understood; among juveniles, it’s even more of a question mark. Newsweek has a long but engrossing article about a Massachusetts family and their life with their 10-year-old son, Max, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as a host of other problems: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder. In his short life, he has been on 38 different psychoactive drugs.

Though the focus of the article is mostly on Max Blake’s family life, his school life is mentioned as well. His behavior problems were so severe that he was suspended for months at a time. Finally, the district agreed to send him to the Manville School at a cost of $64,000 a year. Unfortunately, the program only goes to 10th grade.

What strikes me about any story like this is how alone parents often feel. This family lives in an urban area where they have access to some of the top medical minds and schools in the country, but they’ve still struggled for answers. What happens to families without ready access to those resources? Most of the time, they can only rely on the schools, which have their own resource problems. That’s why I’m glad that more reporters are taking time to write the stories, so that parents can realize that they’re not the only people going through these situations.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.