Of course, it's not just the fact that the Pattersons need to see the worst in everything and of everyone that keep them from understanding what's really going on around them. We aren't, after all, dealing solely with the fact that they all seem to have an internal Gary Busey telling them that everyone wants to crush them to bits because they're all jealous of how awesome they are or the fact that their screwed-up understanding of probability means that they assume that even the most benign situations will suddenly flare up into the Apocalypse. Were they simply paranoid twits who think that the world is always doomed, that would be one thing.
The problem is that even when they're not convinced that people are trying to destroy them and that the world isn't about to come to an end, they're so out of it, they can't begin to understand what's happening. Take, as a for instance, the current mess. Not only do we have Elly thinking that Mike hates the idea of her being who she is because he can't handle it as well as thinking that a nine year old can somehow make making her stay home stick, she's too blasted unaware of the world around her to know what's actually going on. Her need to fort herself away from the world to protect herself from the distractions she can't handle has left her completely unaware of who Mike is, what he wants and what can be done about it. The way I see it, Mike's real problem is that he doesn't want to come home to an empty house because it creeps him the Hell out and he doesn't want to have to go to the Nichols house. Given that he lives within ready access to programs that would allow him to avoid coming home to an empty house or having to be treated like an infant by an idiot, it seems rather odd that Elly and John would spend so much money shipping him off to Vancouver when something so simple and cheap is right in front of them.
It's as if they're characters in a book by Harry Turtledove; were Mister Alternate History to write their saga, he'd say that the thought of enrolling Mike in a summer program never occurred to either of them. He'd be half-right because John and Elly don't know that said things exist because they didn't exist when they were kids. Since neither parent wanted to bother finding out if things had changed because the implication that they were ignorant would make them lose standing in the community, it was better for all concerned if they looked as if they'd tried everything. Given that they look like normal people, their saying that they were at their wits' end could be interpreted one way by people who didn't know them that well and quite another by people familiar with the shrill idiot who won't do anything about her lumbering imbecile dog. My guess is that the reason Michael only ends up with one or two close friends is that other parents don't want their kids exposed to his ignoramus of a mother.