Cindy* is a single mother to her 15-year-old son, Liam*. Liam was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school. He had done well in school until he entered high school, when he began to miss classes and started sleeping all day. Liam had begun to disobey his mother’s rules and became increasingly aggressive in the home. Cindy realized that she needed help to understand and address Liam’s complex needs. She filed a Child Requiring Assistance application with the juvenile court. The Judge referred Liam to ACS for a mental health evaluation.
An ACS clinician reviewed Liam’s medical and educational records, spent hours meeting with both Liam and Cindy, and conferred with Liam’s teachers. It became clear to Liam’s clinician that there were multiple factors contributing to his symptoms and behaviors.
Cindy shared that Liam’s father struggled with substance use and was physically abusive to Cindy prior to moving out of their home when Liam was in middle school. Liam was also struggling with serious symptoms of depression. He shared with his clinician that his functioning worsened during the pandemic. He explained that he had a hard time sleeping despite trying remedies, such as soothing tea and melatonin. He explained that he lacked the energy to get up in the morning and felt unmotivated to do anything other than play video games.
His ACS clinician provided the Court with a comprehensive written report, outlining the challenging circumstances the family had faced, the history and context of Liam’s emotional and behavioral difficulties, and individualized recommendations that she believed would help Liam and Cindy. The clinician met with Cindy several times to summarize the evaluation process and explain her clinical impressions and recommendations.
To support his learning needs related to ADHD, Liam had received special education services through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP); however, it was clear to his clinician that he needed additional therapeutic supports. Liam’s clinician attended school meetings to educate his teachers and providers about his mental health needs and advocate on his behalf. She explained that the transition to high school and the loss of learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to his recent challenges. She also highlighted his will and desire to improve, and that with the right supports and patience, Liam will make meaningful progress.
*To protect confidentiality, ACS does not use the names, photos, or identifying features of our clients.