When youth are suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders and face the challenges that accompany the emotional and behavioral disturbances that can arise as the result of these disorders, life can easily begin to seem overwhelming. Autism spectrum disorder is one type of neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause difficulties to develop in various aspects of a child or adolescent’s life. Historically diagnosed as Asperger’s disorder, or Asperger’s syndrome, this mild form of autism no longer has a specific diagnosis, but rather is now classified on the mild end of the spectrum regarding the persistent impairments that are definitive of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. At Southwood Psychiatric Hospital, we take immense pride in the optimal care that we provide youth who are struggling with various emotional, behavioral, and cognitive impairments. We offer specialized programming that will assist children and adolescents in learning how to manage the symptoms they experience as a result of the presence of this mild form of autism, learning the skills they need to successfully adhere to daily responsibilities, and ultimately develop the confidence they need to lead full and happy lives.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
Having a child with autism spectrum disorder, regardless of the level of severity, can present a family with many different challenges. You want your child to be able to live the full quality of life that he deserves to be living, but you may be feeling unsure as to what you can do to provide your child with the opportunity to achieve that. While the prospect of placing your child in treatment can seem intimidating, it may be the best option for allowing him to have a safe, secure, and fully therapeutic setting where he can develop the tools needed to successfully and confidently navigate his future. If your child is struggling with the trials that can arise as the result of the presence of symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, consider the following:
- Educate yourself on autism spectrum disorder and its various levels of severity.
- Keep track of your child’s behaviors and developmental milestones so that you can accurately report them when meeting with a mental health professional.
- Research viable treatment options that specialize in treating youth with autism.
- Arrange for your child to have an evaluation with a qualified mental health professional to determine what level of treatment is warranted.
- Adhere to any recommendations that are given by treatment providers.
- Be an active part of your child’s therapeutic process.
Why Consider Treatment at Southwood Psychiatric Hospital
Despite the fact that there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, the implementation of appropriate therapeutic interventions can greatly enhance a child or adolescent’s overall quality of life. When children are believed to have a mild form of autism, that which was previously labeled as Asperger’s disorder, many people may not believe that there is a strong need for treatment to be received because their level of functioning is not as hindered as those who have more severe forms of autism. However, when treatment is not received, children are at risk for experiencing difficulties in academic settings, in social settings, and in future occupational settings. Additionally, their abilities to develop and maintain significant interpersonal relationships can be hindered, resulting in a deterioration of their self-esteem. Furthermore, these children and adolescents are at risk for developing symptoms synonymous with other mental health conditions; symptoms that have the potential of imposing detrimental effects on their futures.
Types of Treatment Offered at Southwood Psychiatric Hospital
At Southwood Psychiatric Hospital, we offer an Intellectual Disability Disorders / Autism Spectrum Disorder (IDD/ASD) Program through a specialized residential treatment center where all programming is designed specifically to meet the needs of this population of young people. With the firm belief that the psychiatric treatment of children and adolescents who have severe emotional, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental disabilities, including a mild form of autism spectrum disorder, is best accomplished within a comprehensive treatment program that is specifically tailored to meet the individualized needs of each patient, this program provides treatment for male children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 21. Furthermore, we believe that the treatment of these young people is best effected through a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that follows the Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) principles. These principles include child-centered services, family-focused services, multi-system services, community-based services, culturally competent services, and least restrictive / least intrusive services.
Following the CASSP principles, a comprehensive treatment plan is developed for each individual patient in collaboration with the child, his family members, and other child-serving systems that are already identified in the patient’s life. Each child’s interdisciplinary team of professions meets regularly in order to review the progress that the patient is making towards attaining the short-term objectives and the long-term goals that are identified in his treatment plan. The approach to the patient will be strengths-based, therapeutic, and developmentally appropriate in regards to meeting each child where he is at emotionally and cognitively. Our staff-to-child ratio is 1:4, ensuring that all patients have the thorough support needed to be successful during their treatment process.
The following treatment methods are those that are featured within the programming options offered as part of Southwood’s IDD/ASD Program; options that may be included as part of each child’s individualized treatment plan:
Medication management: In circumstances where a child is suffering from a co-existing mental health condition in addition to this mild form of autism spectrum disorder, it is possible that the implementation of psychotropic medications may be necessary in order to fully alleviate his distressing symptoms. A patient’s need for medication, however, is determined on a case-by-case basis. Such medication needs are assessed by a psychiatrist who can then prescribe, monitor, and adjust medications if it is deemed necessary for appropriately benefiting a youth’s overall care.
Doctor visits: Each patient in the IDD/ASD Program has access to medical physicians whenever a need arises for such interventions. Children and adolescents taking part in this program will see a doctor at a minimum of once every month, but additional appointments can be made whenever necessary.
Onsite schooling: Keeping in mind the extreme importance of a youth’s education, Southwood’s IDD/ASD Program offers onsite schooling for patients that is held Monday through Friday from 8:00am until 2:30pm. All classes are led by certified special education teachers, and occupational therapists are on hand to offer additional support services for children when needed.
Individual therapy: Individual therapy sessions are held once each week for patients in the IDD/ASD Program, but additional sessions can be added when deemed necessary or beneficial to a child’s treatment progression. These sessions are meant to be a time for patients to meet on a one-to-one basis with a mental health professional where they can process emotions and monitor treatment goals in a confidential setting.
Group therapy: Group therapy sessions are held on a daily basis and are led by Master’s level therapists five days each week and serve as a time to reinforce behaviors that have been learned. Additionally, psychoeducation groups occur once or twice each day.
Family therapy: At Southwood Psychiatric Hospital, we strongly encourage the participation of our patients’ family members in all aspects of the treatment process. Understanding that the family is the primary support system for the child, we treat the family members of all children and adolescents who are entrusted into our care with the utmost dignity and respect. Adhering to this belief, the IDD/ASD Program is committed to building strong family relationships and encouraging healthy family commitment through the implementation of family therapy sessions. Furthermore, our caring and compassionate staff provide training and education to the family members of our patients so that they can learn how to best help and support their child.
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
While the programming offered within Southwood Psychiatric Hospital is focused on patients being able to achieve their treatment goals, we remain dedicated to helping those who come to our hospital for care in succeeding once they have completed their residential care for autism spectrum disorder. From the moment a youth is admitted into the IDD/ASD Program, our staff begins formulating aftercare recommendations that will meet the child or adolescent’s needs. Residential treatment is designed to help stabilize a youth and spend the least amount of time possible learning the skills needed to remain successful once treatment has ended so that the therapeutic process can continue at a lower level of care. Therefore, we conduct an ongoing assessment of needs in order to ensure that referrals to another treatment provider will help a patient continue his success long after leaving Southwood Psychiatric Hospital.
Our staff of compassionate and caring professionals will work in collaboration with each youth and his family to establish how the youth will retain skills learned and which services in the community will refine and build upon those skills.
Whatever your child or adolescent’s mental health needs may be, let Southwood Psychiatric Hospital be your treatment provider of choice when trying to help your child achieve the life that he deserves.