Family Solutions Teen Help

For Struggling & Troubled Teen & Young Adult Issues

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Teen autism is a spectrum disorder that has a variety of severities


At the low-end of the autism disorder spectrum is a disorder called Asperger syndrome. Teen asperger syndrome gets its name from an Austrian pediatrician who first noticed that this particular form of autism was mild, but capable of stymieing academic and social progress. Teenagers with Asperger syndrome disorder do not demonstrate the same language delay skills that others with more severe forms of autism develop. However, there are some definite limitations associated with teenage Asperger syndrome.

Defining characteristics of teen Asperger syndrome disorder

Teenagers with Asperger syndrome disorder are mainly identified by their obsessive interest in one subject or another. While the subject varies from teen to teen, the connecting thread is that the teenager wants to know everything about one subject or object when affected by teenage Asperger syndrome disorder. The desired topic is discussed almost exclusively by teens affected by Asperger syndrome disorder.

In conversations with others, and in pursuit of knowledge, one topic is almost entirely all an Apserger teen might know about. This can lead to neglecting schoolwork that is not related to the topic of interest, and can make for difficulty in carrying on social interaction. However, regarding the topic of interest, Asperger teens are remarkably knowledgeable and have a high level of expertise and good vocabulary (including formal language patterns), making them similar to encyclopedias about the topic.

Other characteristics of teen Asperger syndrome disorder

Teen Asperger syndrome disorder and intelligence

Most teens with Asperger syndrome are actually quite intelligent. They have average to above-average IQs, and many of them perform well on standardized tests. However, their homework skills are often lacking, leading them to perform poorly in subjects that do not fall within the scope of topics of interest.

Asperger syndrome teens often need help remembering to do and hand in their homework and they need help learning appropriate communication skills.

While there is no cure for Asperger syndrome, teens can learn to cope with the symptoms by practicing gross motor skills to overcome clumsiness, learn how to better read non-verbal cues and by working to expand areas of interest.

Teen Asperger syndrome disorder and social interaction

Because Asperger syndrome is on the milder end of the autism spectrum, teenagers affected by Asperger syndrome disorder are not as shy as others with more severe forms of autism. Many teens with Asperger syndrome attempt to approach other people. However, because they may have problems recognizing social and emotional cues, and may be fixated on a particular subject, actual interaction is often unsuccessful. So, while they may not wish to be isolated and may seek social interaction, teens with Asperger syndrome disorder become isolated by others because of their lack of social skills and because of their especially narrow interests.

Even though Asperger teens will probably need some measure of help throughout high school, it is often possible to help them equip themselves to prepare for college, and college can be used as a training ground to further prepare teenagers with Asperger syndrome disorder for successful careers.

Asperger Syndrome Source:

Dore E. Frances, Ph.D.

Families can at times face special and unique circumstances.

Horizon Family Solutions, LLC

What are Therapeutic Wilderness Programs?


Many social critics argue that today’s youth face more serious and critical risks than any previous generation. Parents are convinced that their children face a major crisis. Most experts will agree that violence in schools, deteriorating family structure, substance abuse, alarming media images, and gang activity put teens at risk. Wilderness programs use physical activity, exposure to the wilderness, and therapy to help participants through what might be considered “a rough patch” in their lives. Unlike juvenile detention centers, most wilderness programs, at least all the ones I recommend, do not use behavior modification strategies. Instead, they are non-confrontational and rely on exposure to nature to teach students about responsibility, reliability and resourcefulness.

Format

In most therapeutic wilderness programs, students join a group and stay in the field for a period of 42 to 74 days. At times it may be longer depending n the needs of the teen. Groups, which typically vary in size from four to 12 members, cook, engage  in activities that match their surroundings and time of year (weather), help with local community needs (when applicable for the student), gather kindling, engage in academics, learn new skills, meet with their therapist, participate in groups, write in their journal and write letters home.  Some programs focus on survival skills, such as making fires, cooking, first aid, minimal impact camping, hiking, route-finding and primitive living. Each participant has a responsibility to the group and themselves. Safety is ensured by expert trained field staff.

Although these programs do not work directly with insurance companies many parents have been successful in getting a portion, if not all, of the costs reimbursed through their insurance company. Upon completion, the program  can break down all therapeutic costs, which include (on the average) individual therapy weekly, group therapy twice weekly, and group processing daily. In addition, they will break down admissions fees, gear fees and residential fees when requested


Participants

Participants in wilderness therapy programs usually fall in the “at-risk youth” category. At-risk teens are in danger of making poor life decisions because of environmental, social, family and behavioral issues. Students are usually between 13 and 17; after that age, parents are no longer legally able to make decisions for their child. There are therapeutic wilderness programs for pre-teens as well as young adults, so everyone can benefit from this experience when needed.

The reasons a child is sent to a therapeutic wilderness program vary, but common issues include adoption struggles, clinical needs, drug and alcohol abuse, family challenges, gang involvement, low self-esteem, prescription drug abuse, running away, stealing, violence, depression, promiscuity, antisocial behavior and poor academic performance.

Theory

By removing children from their comfortable environment and bad influences, a therapeutic wilderness program removes distractions that can hinder insight while in therapy. Students do not have access to cell phones, cars, computers, televisions, their usual friends, family, drugs, or alcohol. They focus on things such as: admitting to what was and has really been going on at hem and in school; behaviors that have caused troubles; academic failure; feelings of depression; eating healthy; making amends with their family; new coping skills; open communication; responsibility for themselves and how their actions affect others. Therapeutic wilderness programs use a “no-resistance” approach, meaning force and confrontation are not used and children must improve based on the natural consequences of their actions.

Students quickly see and feel the impact of their actions.

Therapy

Therapeutic wilderness programs involve several forms of direct and indirect therapy. The experience of being in the wilderness — exposure to unfamiliar settings, learning new skills, and deprivation of normal everyday comfortable items — is itself a major component of therapy. Students work with licensed therapists to finish assignments and work through their problems; therapists do not usually stay with groups, but visit once or twice a week. Many wilderness programs also use less formal forms of group therapy to process lessons, improve communication and air grievances. Therapeutic wilderness programs are clinically driven treatment models.


Wilderness Programs

The Family Solutions Teen Help website has some of the best therapeutic wilderness programs listed.

Many are located in the West, where the expanses of wilderness are used as field areas for groups. Many are located in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Utah.

About the Author

Dore Frances, Ph.D .began her small independent therapeutic consulting practice as an Advocate for children with learning disabilities in Pacific Grove, California in 1988. In her work as a Child Advocate, she became familiar with the processes and strategies families develop to find appropriate educational matches for their children. He written work has appeared in Monterey County Herald, Seventeen Magazine, and numerous other journals. A frequent traveler to all programs and schools she recommends, she also has penned articles about different types of programs. Dr. Frances has a Master’s Degree in Child & Family Studies and a Doctorate of Applied Human Development in Child and Family Development with an emphasis in Diverse Families and a minor in Child Advocacy.

Horizon Family Solutions, LLC commitment to clients.

10 WAYS TO DEAL WITH YOUR DIFFICULT OR NEGATIVE TEEN


10 WAYS TO DEAL WITH YOUR DIFFICULT OR NEGATIVE TEEN

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” ~Sri Chinmoy

I love him to death, but it’s draining to talk to him. Every time I talk with my son, I know what I’m in for: a half-hour rant about everything that’s difficult, miserable or unfair. Sometimes he focuses on the people he feels have wronged him (like his mother and I) and other times he explores the general hopelessness of his high school life. He never asks how I am doing, and he rarely listens to what’s going on in our family life for more than two minutes before shifting the focus back to himself. I tell myself I keep making the attempt to connect because I care, but sometimes I wonder if I have ulterior motives–to pump up my ego offering good parental advice, or even to feel better about my own reality of being the head of this family.

I’m no saint, and if there’s one thing I know well, we only do things repeatedly if we believe there’s something in it for us. Even if that something is just to feel needed. Is that what my son is feeling?

I thought about this the other day when a client asked me an interesting question: “How do I offer compassion to my son when he doesn’t seem to deserve it?”

While I believe everyone deserves compassion, I understand this feeling.

One mother spoke to me about her daughter saying she is offensive and emotionally exhausts everyone around her in the family. Is she hateful of her life already at age 16, or is she just terribly depressed? Some teens seem to have boundless negative energy that ends up affecting everyone around them.

How do you interact with negative or difficult teens?

Teens who seem chronically angry, belligerent, indignant, critical, or just plain rude.

When your teen repeatedly drains everyone around them, how do you maintain a sense of compassion without getting sucked into their doom?

And how do you act in a way that doesn’t reinforce their negativity–and maybe even helps them? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Act instead of just reacting.

Oftentimes we wait until our teen gets angry or depressed before we attempt to buoy their spirits. When you know your teen is dealing with difficult feelings or thoughts (as demonstrated in their behavior) don’t wait for a situation to help them create positive feelings. Give them a compliment for something they did well.

Remind them of a moment when they were happy–as in “Remember when you scored that touchdown? That was awesome!” You’re more apt to want to boost them up when they haven’t brought you down. This may help give them a little relief from their pain.

2. Dig deeper, but stay out of the hole.

It’s always easier to offer your teen compassion when you understand where they’re coming from.

However, that can’t completely justify their bad behavior.

When you show negative people you support their choice to behave badly, you give them no real incentive to make a change (which they may actually want deep down).

It may help to repeat this in your head when you deal with them: “I understand your pain. However, I’m most helpful if I don’t feed into it.”

This might help you approach your teen with both firmness and kindness so they don’t bring you or the rest of the family down with them.

3. Disarm their negativity, even if just for now.

You know your angry and depressed teen will rant about life’s injustices as long as you let them. Part of you may feel tempted to play amateur counselor or therapist –get them talking, and then help them reframe situations into a more positive light.

Then remind yourself you can’t change their whole way of being in one minute or perhaps even in one day. They have to want that. You also can’t listen for hours on end, as you’ve done in the past. However, you can listen compassionately for a short while and then help them focus on something positive right now, in this moment. You can ask about any upcoming activities or school events. You can remind them it’s a beautiful day for a bike ride or walk.

Don’t think you can fix your teen.

Just aim to help them now.

4. Don’t take it personally–but know sometimes it is personal.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should never take things personally when you deal with your angry and negative teen. And yes, I do think it’s a little more complicated than that. You can’t write off everything your teen says about you just because they are being insensitive or tactless.

Even an abrasive teen may have a valid point. Weigh their comments with a willingness to learn. Accept that you don’t deserve the excessive emotions in their condensing tone, but weigh their ideas with a willingness to learn.

Some of the most useful lessons I’ve learned came from caring friends I wished weren’t right.

5. Maintain a positive boundary.

Some people might tell you to visualize a bright white light around you to maintain a positive space when other people enter it with negativity.

This doesn’t actually work for parents and their teens because most parents and teens respond better to ideas in words than visualizations. So tell yourself this, “I can only control the positive space I create around myself.”

Then when you interact with your teen, do two things, in this order of importance:

~ Protect the positive space around yourself. When their negativity is too strong, you need to walk away.

~ Help your teen feel more positive, not act more positive–which is more likely to create the desired result.

6. Maintain the right relationship based on reality as it is.

With your teen you may always be wishing they could be more accepting and more positive. Do you consistently put yourself in situations where you feel bad because you want to help, because you want them to be happy?

Please realize the best you can do is accept them as they are, let them know you believe in their ability to be happy, and then give them space to make the choice. That means gently bringing your conversations to a close after you’ve made an effort to help.

Or cutting short a night and going to your room when you’ve done all you can and it’s draining you. Hopefully your teen will want to change some day. Until then, all you can do is love them, while loving yourself enough to take care of your needs.

7. Question what you’re getting out of it.

We often get something out of relationship, even with our negative teens.

Get real honest with yourself: have you fallen into a caretaker role because it makes you feel needed by your child? Do you have some sort of stake in keeping the things the way they are?

Questioning yourself helps you change the way you respond–which is really all you can control.

You can’t make your teen act, feel, or behave differently.

You can be as kind as possible or as combative as possible, and still not change reality for them. All you can control is what you think and do–and then do your best to help them without hurting yourself.

8. Remember the numbers.

Research shows that all people with negative attitudes have significantly higher rates of disease and stress. Someone’s mental state plays a huge role in their physical health. When your teen is making life difficult for their family and other people around them, you can be sure they’re doing worse for themselves. What a sad reality. That your teen has so much pain inside them they have to act out just to feel some sense of relief–even when that relief comes from getting a rise out of people. When you remember how much your teen is suffering, it’s easier to stay focused on minimizing negativity, as opposed to always defending yourself.

9. Resist the urge to judge or assume.

It’s hard to offer your teen compassion when you assume you have them pegged. He’s a jerk. She’s dissatisfied. He’s rebellious. Even if it seems unlikely they will wake up one day and act differently you need to remember it is possible.

When you think negative thoughts, it comes out in your body language.

Someone prone to negativity may feel all too tempted to mirror that.

Come at them with the positive mindset you wish they had.

Expect the best in them.

You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised.

10. Temper your emotional response.

Negative teens often gravitate toward others who react strongly–people who easily get angered, outraged, or offended. I suspect this gives them a little light in the darkness of their inner world–a sense that they’re not floating alone in their own anger, bewilderment or sadness. Your teen will remember and learn from what you do more than what you say. When you feed into the situation with emotions, you’ll teach them they can depend on you for a reaction. It’s tough not to react because we’re human, but it’s worth practicing. Once you’ve offered a compassionate ear for as long as you can, respond as calmly as possible with a simple line of fact.

When you’re dealing with an angry, confused and rude teen, you may want to change the subject to something unrelated: “Your favorite TV show is on tonight. Planning to watch it?”

You can’t always save your teen.

But you can make their world a better place by working on yourself–by becoming self-aware, tapping into your compassion, and protecting your teen from self-destructing or self-harming.

Dore E. Frances, Ph.D.

Horizon Family Solutions, LLC

How to Build Up Your Self-Confidence and Get IEP Services for Your Child


Dore E. Frances, Ph.D. will be offering Parent Training and Information Seminars starting in March 2012.

These seminars are mainly for parents, especially those that are “beginners” in the IEP process, however, anyone wanting to learn more information is welcome to attend or schedule a seminar in your area or at your program or school.

Parents will learn valuable assertive communication techniques so that they are able to ask and answer questions in an unthreatening manner during an IEP meeting and while communicating with the IEP team, of which they are a part.

This is a very understandable and down to earth seminar, with step-by-step instructions that each parent can take with them and use.

Parents will be delighted with these seminars because they are spoken to from a parent perspective – which is very hard to find. If you would like to privately schedule a seminar for a group, this also works out very well. These seminars are a powerful way to learn how to be an effective advocate for your child.

~ Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document.

The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.

Session One. Assertive vs. Non-Assertive – Which Are You?

“Being Assertive Is Not My Style”

Assertiveness is … Assertiveness is Not …

Assertive and Unassertive Statements

~ To create an effective IEP, parents, teachers, other school staff–and often the student–must come together to look closely at the student’s unique needs.

~ These individuals pool knowledge, experience and commitment to design an educational program that will help the student be involved in, and progress in, the general curriculum. The IEP guides the delivery of special education supports and services for the student with a disability. Without a doubt, writing–and implementing–an effective IEP requires teamwork.

Session Two. Developing Your Positives – Eliminating Your Negatives

How to Build Up Your Self-Confidence and Develop a Positive Attitude About Yourself

Let Your Body Say Positive Things About You

How to Get Off the Guilt Trip

How to Get Out of the Intimidation Trap

How to Put Down the Put-Down

How to Get Around the Runaround

When They Call You Aggressive

Can You Really Listen?

Building the Parent-Professional Communication Gap

How a Parent Group Can Help You Be Assertive

Are you a Leader – or Just a Parent?

Laugh Your Way to Assertiveness

The IEP team gathers to talk about the child’s needs and write the student’s IEP.

Parents and the student (when appropriate) are part of the team. If the child’s placement is decided by a different group, the parents must be part of that group as well.

Session Three. Assertiveness at Special Education Meetings

When You Know It – Flaunt It

How to Assert Yourself at Your Child’s IEP Meeting

Gaining Access to All of Your Child’s Records

How to Prepare for a Successful Due Process Hearing

Is a Lawyer Necessary?

If the parents do not agree with the IEP and placement, they may discuss their concerns with other members of the IEP team and try to work out an agreement.

~ If they still disagree, parents can ask for mediation, or the school may offer mediation. Parents may file a complaint with the state education agency and may request a due process hearing, at which time mediation must be available.

Session Four. Assertiveness Exercise for Parents

Assertive Responses for Those Old Excuses

Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!

How to Shovel Your Way Out of those Bureaucratic Snow-jobs

How to Escalate Your Way to Services

Using the Negative to Build Your Positives

The “No You Can’t But I Can” Technique

The school makes sure that the child’s IEP is being carried out as it was written.

Parents are given a copy of the IEP.

~ Each of the child’s teachers and service providers has access to the IEP and knows his or her specific responsibilities for carrying out the IEP. This includes the accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided to the child, in keeping with the IEP.

Session Five. Assertiveness with Bureaucrats and Public Officials

Put It in Writing

How to Influence People Instead of Just Making Friends

How to Negotiate with Bureaucracies

How to Assert Yourself with Politicians

How to Stack Public Hearings to Win Your Battles

How the Press Can Help You Get Services

Others Who Are Winning by being Assertive

What if I Fail?

~ The child’s IEP is reviewed by the IEP team at least once a year, or more often if the parents or school ask for a review. If necessary, the IEP is revised. Parents, as team members, must be invited to attend these meetings.

~ Parents can make suggestions for changes, can agree or disagree with the IEP goals, and agree or disagree with the placement.

Session Six. Assertiveness Success Stories

Assertiveness – My Legacy to My Daughter

How My Daughter Changed My Personality and Taught Me to Be an Assertive Parent

My Path to Assertiveness – It Changed How I Serve Families

Sometimes Assertive, Sometimes Supportive

Time’s Up for Time Out – Legislative Assertiveness

~ By law, the IEP must include certain information about the child and the educational program designed to meet his or her unique needs.

Session Seven. Resources

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates

Family Resource Centers

A Parent’s Guide to Special Education Rights

Parent Training and Information Centers

Federal Agencies

Wright’s Law

~ Sample IEP forms will be presented

Dore E. Frances, Ph.D.

Founder

Horizon Family Solutions, LLC

6525 Gunpark Drive / Suite 370-335

Boulder, Colorado   80301

740-446-0188

Dore@Dorefrances.com

Sunrise


Residential Treatment Program and Boarding School for Teen Girls

At Sunrise, we know that every girl is different. Because your daughter possesses a unique constellation of experiences, talents, relationships, and struggles, Sunrise offers a teen residential treatment program that is customized to meet her special needs. Sunrise works to uncover the academic, social, and emotional potential of girls who have been held back by emotional or behavioral struggles. Our staff knows that in school and treatment one size does not fit all, so we meet your daughter right where she is and design a program that changes with her as she grows confident, secure, and healthy during treatment. All aspects of our program are designed to form a healing milieu that combines the warmth of a home, the safety and clinical expertise of a residential treatment program, and the community access of a transition program. As a result, many students who would otherwise need two or three programs can move through their entire healing process – from treatment to their transition back home or off to college – all at Sunrise, quickly, effectively, and affordably.

New Haven


RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT PROGRAM AND BOARDING SCHOOL FOR TEEN GIRLS, AGES 12-18

At New Haven, we base our treatment decisions on a simple question: What would I want for my daughter?

We know that underneath her struggles – whether with an eating disorder, substance abuse, trauma, or another challenging emotional issue – your daughter is still there, waiting to be discovered, loved back to wholeness, and reunited with her family. After fifteen years working together, our treatment team is one of the most experienced in the field of girls’ adolescent treatment. We know from experience that girls struggling with complex emotional and behavioral issues need access to a variety of proven therapies. Experience has also taught us that even the most clinically sophisticated approaches to treatment are only effective if those delivering them come from a place of connection, compassion, and hope.

Daniels Academy


A premier residential program & school for young men ages 13 to 18 with learning differences.

(801) 979-6294

Daniels Academy is a small home-style residential program & school that provides both academic and emotional support to teenage boys, ages 13-18, with learning differences.  Each component of the Daniels Academy program is designed to support the development of executive functioning and relationship skills.

Daniels Academy believes in seeing each student individually. Every student receives an individualized education and treatment plan. Daniels Academy strongly emphasizes the integration of meaningful relationships coupled with clear and concise expectations, and dependable routines and structures.

Daniels Academy values authenticity and strives to provide experiences and lessons that easily transfer to life at home, work, or school.  To help the treatment experience generalize into life back home, students spend time in local communities nearly every day.

The Vive! approach is different


We help families flourish through therapeutic mentoring for young people combined with supportive coaching for their parents. Our mentors and parent coaches wrap support around the whole family, offering experiential, real-time support, where it counts the most—in the family’s own environment rather than in an office or program setting.

Vive supports young people and their families who find themselves struggling with a difficult transition or life event, or who are experiencing mild to moderate emotional issues. Vive clients benefit from personalized support but are not currently in need of residential treatment. At Vive, we believe that young people and their parents need support. For this reason, Vive delivers a powerful combination of mentoring and parent coaching directly to your family where you live, work, play, and go to school. Therapeutic mentors work directly with young people in their real world setting (whether they are living at home, college, or independently) rather than in an office or controlled environment.

Mentors stay connected! They are available not only by appointment but also by email, text message, and telephone for those stray questions, issues, or just to connect. Parent coaches are similarly available to parents in real-time and by appointment to provide practical, compassionate support to parents when it’s needed. Vive’s integrated family services have proven effective for teens, young adults, and parents in all stages of life.

Call us at 1-800-261-0127 for pricing in your area.

Shelterwood is a licensed therapeutic boarding school


THERAPEUTIC BOARDING SCHOOL DESIGNED TO HELP TROUBLED OR STRUGGLING TEENS

Is your teenager struggling? Are you looking for qualified, compassionate support, continued education, and a safe harbor for your teen away from peers and other influences at home and school? We invite you to learn more about Shelterwood.

We understand how to transform a vision for a new life and new positive thinking in your child into reality. Shelterwood is a licensed therapeutic boarding school.

We believe that every interaction with teenagers in our care is a therapeutic opportunity that helps them change their behaviors and motivations from the inside out.

Shelterwood provides individual, group, and family therapy along with an accredited school for at-risk youth. Unlike traditional boarding schools, we are uniquely equipped to treat struggling adolescents that may be spiraling out of control. Shelterwood is designed to provide excellence in academics right along with life-changing therapy. Our program for teens is a year-long journey which fosters dynamic growth through small class sizes, one-to-one mentoring, small group discussions, recreational activities, and day-to-day living in community.

Built on our love for Jesus, we walk alongside hurting teens and help them reconnect with their families and build healthier lives.

Redwood Grove Transitional Systems


Redwood Grove Transitional Systems began working with families in 2006, when our founder, Dr. Tolen, sought a way to help his residential treatment clients return home with minimal chance of relapse.

We have trained therapists across the country to apply our treatment model, and continue to recruit therapists nationwide in order to meet all our clients’ needs.

Our program is a research-based, comprehensive home and community-oriented approach that addresses the complete environment in which the family lives.

We identify barriers on five key scales (personal, family, social, spiritual, and educational) and work directly in the home with our clients, their families, and their extended communities to make positive and long-lasting changes in their lives.

Our program generally lasts from one (1) to three (3) months, depending on the level of service that you choose. We always hope to have a client enroll in our program several weeks before the child is discharged from his/her residential or wilderness program so that our team can make contact with the child and begin to establish a relationship of trust with both him/her and the whole family before the child comes home. However, we understand that the decision to enroll in transitional/ aftercare services may be made late in the residential treatment process and we can achieve that relationship of trust after the child has already gone home, if necessary.

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