As a little boy apart from ear infections and growing pains, Ryan was a happy, healthy, witty, sensitive boy who was athletically and academically talented and he had a lot of sports-minded friends. During grade 7, we noticed he seemed quieter, sadder and didn’t spend as much time with friends. At the beginning of grade 8, he developed stomach issues and poor school attendance. Medical tests ruled out physical causes. We then explored possible mental health causes. He was diagnosed with anxiety and ODD. This surprised us despite a family history of mental illness. We tried various counselling with little to no success.
By grade 9, he struggled even more. Ryan then had limited options. His school social worker suggested the few programs that were available and Ryan decided that he wanted to go to the Woodview Dano/Mountaineer program.
Ryan attended the Mountaineer program in Burlington. Despite living in a rural area, he had not been on a bus much in a few years. He was to go by taxi daily along with other participants. We felt hopeful and nervous. Ryan wanted his life to get back on track but old habits die hard. He had a rough start and definite blips along the way… but at some point, the strategies and comfort level with the people in the program seemed to kick in. We started to see glimpses of the “old Ryan”. It truly was a life-changing year for Ryan.
While attending the program this year, along with working on strategies, he was able to earn 6 credits; last year he earned one. He was in the starting lineup for the baseball team at his high school; they placed 7th in the province! He even went on the bus when he didn’t drive or get a ride and he has got his G2 driver’s license. He socialized a great deal; it almost seemed like he felt a need to make up for lost time. For a summer job, he umpired (which he hadn’t done in 4 years) and he prepared diamonds for ballgames.
His life is vastly different from the one he was living before attending the Mountaineer program. His struggles aren’t over. He is still a teenager and faces the trials and tribulations associated with the growing up process. He will need to remember everything he learned in that year: the strategies, medication, and being willing to go to therapy if/when needed. He has options for a real future now. He can achieve and pick a career of his choosing. These are thoughts that we could not have entertained a few years back.