My Son, the Axe Murderer

OK, let’s just get this out there. Special needs kids and the Foreign Service don’t mix. If anyone tells you they do, walk quickly. In the opposite direction.

Step 1 of the bidding cycle (after getting a full psychological evaluation required by MED that notably does not mention “axe-murderer”): get your officer to make up a list of jobs he qualifies for in places that aren’t awful, then go online and find out if there any schools that accommodate ADHD. In particular, an ADHD kid who is designated gifted  by his current school system, who reads at the college level, spells perfectly, has great handwriting, and who, aside from pretty much being math-impaired–which he comes by honestly, cough–requires no special services other than a lot of reminders about homework.

Step 2: email the schools and find out if they actually accommodate ADHD or just say they do.

Step 3: email the post, hope someone emails you back, then ask that person to try and find someone with an ADHD kid who can give you the skinny on the schools at post and/or a post shrink who can give you some educated feedback. (None of this takes any of your unpaid time of course, or involves any helpful online State Department resources because there AREN’T ANY.)

Step 4: place bids on posts with great schools for your kid.

Step 5: find out you didn’t get any of those posts. Crap.

Step 6: bid on an off-cycle assignment that really wasn’t first on either of your lists, but does have a school that could work. Maybe. And a backup if it doesn’t. Maybe.

Step 7: watch your kid’s grades tank as he enters high school/throes of adolescence/discovers girls, gets pissed off about moving, and decides to take it out on you by flunking out.

Step 8: start investigating boarding schools.

Step 9: discover that nearly all the boarding schools on the same continent that you are assigned to do not accommodate ADHD. And the few that do, have no interest in dealing with a moody teenager (Huh? 50K per year doesn’t buy a little patience? High schools don’t usually deal with moody teenagers?)

Step 10: start investigating boarding schools in the States.

Step 11: send your kid’s evaluation to the one “regular” boarding school that accommodates ADHD and is located anywhere near relatives (or really, anywhere near anything, and even that one is in a cow pasture) and receive a well-considered reply that essentially says “no way.” Based solely on their determination that your kid might someday turn out to be a troublemaker even though he has never once gotten into any kind of trouble. Seriously, not even pulling the fire alarm to get out of an exam. Really, not once.

Step twelve: allow yourself one weekend to just be really frustrated and pissed off, then regroup. That’s what Mondays are for. Until then, order a pizza, open the cheap wine, and enjoy some Netflix cartoons with your axe-murderer, pyromaniac, drug-dealer kid.


  1. MED is a 4 letter word in our house. Just knowing of their existence stresses me beyond belief, so I feel your pain (in a different realm)!


  2. Have you looked into Quaker boarding schools? They aren’t just for Quaker kids True they tend to be in rural locales, but they are often flexible also can have laid back individualistic vibe that might work for him. Besides the U.S. there are some in England.


    • I appreciate that, but the thing is, I don’t actually want to send my kid to boarding school. I actually like him most of the time. Maybe I should have checked the fine print when we joined the FS, hm?


  3. What a circus. I really don’t understand why this can’t be made easier. i had two friends go through this last bidding cycle and it is such a joke. There are enough kids with these issues that there has to be some way to make it easier. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with all this.


  4. Have you had any trouble accessing ADHD medication overseas? There are certain meds (which I won’t name, for fear of this comment getting zapped as spam) that are only legal in the US and Canada. I imagine accessing them at post might be dfficult?


    • Our son never took any ADHD meds overseas, so I am not the expert on that. However, my understanding is that Regional Medical Officers normally handle prescribing the medications. I would ask MED at State about this.


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