At Southwood Psychiatric Hospital, we take great pride in the excellent care that we are able to afford to children and adolescents who are plagued by various behavioral, emotional, and cognitive concerns. Our highly-skilled staff has abundant experience in providing optimal care for youth who are faced with the challenges that accompany such concerns, including those that arise as the result of the presence of autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition that can occur in varying levels of severity. This disorder is characterized by persistent and ongoing deficits across multiple areas of social communication and social interaction. The engagement in restricted, repetitive patterns of activities, as well as behaviors and interests, are also characteristic aspects of autism spectrum disorder. Because of the impairment in academic, social, and other crucial areas of daily functioning that arise as the result of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, Southwood Psychiatric Hospital has developed specialized treatment options that can help youth with learning how to manage their symptoms, learning the skills needed to successfully function on a daily basis, and ultimately grow to lead a healthy, happy, and high quality of life that they deserve to be living.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
Having a child who has autism spectrum disorder can present many challenges. At times, you might feel overwhelmed in trying to figure out how you can best be of support to your child. You may also struggle with coming to terms with the fact that your child requires professional interventions in order to achieve the highest quality of life possible. While the thought of placing your child into any type of treatment can seem intimidating, it is important to remember that this could be the most beneficial choice you make for your child and his wellbeing. The following are some tips to keep in mind as you explore viable options for treatment:
- Fully educate yourself on autism spectrum disorder. The greater understanding that you have regarding your child’s condition, the better able you to be to fully and accurately report symptoms to mental health professionals so that they can subsequently make an appropriate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan that will best meet your child’s specific needs.
- Arrange for your child to have an evaluation completed by a qualified mental health professional and bring all pertinent information that you have gained throughout your research when attending the appointment.
- Keep detailed records of any appointments that your child has with doctors and/or mental health professionals, as this will allow you to keep track of progress and discover setbacks should they occur.
- Research various treatment options that you feel may best meet your child’s needs and then present those findings to a mental health professional.
- Adhere to any recommendations that are received regarding your child’s treatment and progress.
- Seek out support from other families who have children with autism, whether that be via community support groups or online support groups.
- Remain an active part of your child’s treatment. The more consistently active you are in the therapeutic process, the more successful your child’s treatment outcomes are likely to be.
Why Consider Treatment at Southwood Psychiatric Hospital
While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder itself, when appropriate treatment interventions are implemented, the overall quality of life of those young people afflicted by the condition can become greatly enhanced. The skills developed throughout the receiving of such treatment can work to boost their self-esteem, while also allowing them the opportunity to develop the tools needed to successfully and confidently navigate through their lives. When the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are left unaddressed and untreated, however, there can unfortunately be a number of adverse consequences that can be imposed upon youth with this disorder. A decline in one’s ability to care for himself can occur, a loss of verbal skills can become prominent, and the formation and maintenance of significant interpersonal relationships with others can become difficult. Furthermore, social isolation is known to occur as these young people fail to adapt to the social settings that surround them, perpetuating further feelings of low self-worth. Additionally, when left untreated, children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder are at an increased risk for experiencing the onset of symptoms synonymous with other mental health conditions. For these reasons and more, it is imperative that therapeutic interventions are sought and implemented as early in the child’s life as possible.
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 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, community-based services, multi-system 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 long-term goals and short-term objectives 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 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 have 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.