People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often struggle in many different areas of their lives. The primary symptoms of the disorder include difficulties with communication and social interaction and can include restricted interests, a high need for order and stability, repetitive behaviors, sensitivity to sensory input, and sensation-seeking behaviors. Autism was previously divided into two separate disorders depending on the severity of symptoms. Asperger’s disorder was diagnosed when a person’s symptoms were less severe, while autism was typically diagnosed for moderate to severe symptoms. Recent changes in how autism is diagnosed, however, mean that Asperger’s disorder is now referred to as autism spectrum disorder and is no longer a separate diagnosis. People who were previously diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder are now diagnosed with mild autism spectrum disorder.
If left untreated, autism can significantly interfere with a young person’s life and, depending on its severity, can place tremendous strain on autism sufferers and caregivers alike. However, with specialized treatment, many people with autism spectrum disorder can grow in their ability to live independent and successful lives.
At Youth Care, we are pleased to offer the life-changing care that allows young people with mild autism to live more autonomous lives. Our compassionate staff is dedicated to helping these youth so that they and their caregivers can learn to effectively manage the symptoms of autism.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
It can be incredibly painful for a parent to watch his or her child struggle with the symptoms of autism, and it can also feel overwhelming trying to figure out what can be done to help. Thankfully, there are things that parents can do to help their child when autism spectrum disorder is a factor in his or her life. Consider the following options:
- Spend time learning about autism and its effect on children. Find books and articles written by credible sources and speak with treatment professionals about how to best help your son or daughter manage the symptoms of his or her autism.
- Explore different treatment options and find a few treatment centers that may be a good fit for your child.
- Make appointments to visit treatment centers and meet with treatment center staff. You can also help the initial assessment process by providing supplemental background information to the center’s intake staff.
- Stay connected with your child while he or she is in treatment. Follow up regularly with treatment personnel and remain an active participant in treatment. Do your best to attend family sessions if they are provided by your treatment center of choice.
- Do not forget to take care of yourself. Make sure to keep up with your own hobbies and social network, and consider joining support groups for parents of children with autism.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
If a child is diagnosed with autism and does not receive proper treatment, he or she may experience a host of negative consequences, especially in the pre-teen and adolescent years when social relationships become increasingly important. A child with autism spectrum disorder may struggle to develop a good network of friends, which could possibly lead to social isolation, poor self-esteem, and a loss of self-confidence. Often children with milder forms of autism are aware of feeling different from their peers, and so treatment can be especially beneficial as it can help them learn to develop good relationships,thus helping to protect and build their self-esteem. Children with autism can also develop symptoms of other disorders, such as depressive disorders or anxiety disorders. They may even have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Many children with autism spectrum disorder have great potential, and perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of a child not receiving treatment is that he or she may not have the chance to fully realize that potential. Unfortunately there is no cure for autism, but proper treatment can significantly improve the quality of life of someone with autism spectrum disorder. With caring and comprehensive treatment, young people with autism can have the chance to exercise their full potential.
Types of Treatment Offered at Youth Care
Youth Care offers residential treatment for adolescents, aged 11 to 17, who have autism spectrum disorder. Here at Youth Care, we are dedicated to providing treatment in a structured, home-like setting that offers a family-like atmosphere for adolescents as they work towards recovering from the concerns that plague them. By implementing individualized programming that is tailored to meet each adolescent’s unique needs, the treatment delivered at Youth Care is comprehensive and is designed to promote true and lasting healing.
The residential program here at Youth Care is founded on the principles of respect, accountability, and responsibility. Our staff uses a level system with students so that they can provide constructive feedback as students learn how to demonstrate respect and behave in appropriate ways. In doing so, students earn various privileges and increased levels of trust. We believe that the connection between privileges, accountability, trust, and responsibility is an invaluable lesson that will serve to benefit our students for the rest of their lives.
When adolescents are entrusted into our care for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, they will be provided with various therapeutic interventions, which may include the following:
Medication management: There are times when certain psychotropic medications may be implemented into an adolescent’s treatment plan in order to help alleviate the distress that he or she is experiencing. The use of any medication, however, is always determined on a student-by-student basis, depending on each youth’s individual circumstances. Meetings with a psychiatrist occur on a weekly basis, and YouthCare’s nursing and medical teams will assist in handling all medication management needs.
Individual therapy: The use of individual therapy is a very important aspect of the treatment offered at Youth Care. Students will meet with their primary therapists three times every week and can also meet with an addictions counselor once each week if they are struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Group therapy: At Youth Care, the use of group therapy is a major component of our students’ overall treatment plans. Various group sessions are held on a daily basis and can play an instrumental role in helping our students learn to manage the symptoms of autism. The different types of groups that are offered as part of programming include the following:
- Music therapy groups
- Recreational therapy groups
- Dialectical behavior therapy groups
- Process groups Addictions groups
Family therapy: The role of our students’ families is crucial in helping them learn how to manage the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Keeping this in mind, we, at Youth Care, are dedicated to ensuring that the family members of our students are actively involved in the therapeutic process. The primary therapist for each student will conduct family therapy sessions once each week, and Parent Days are held every 6 to 8 weeks. Parent Days include a variety of therapeutic activities, including multifamily group therapy, parent support groups, family recreational activities, family therapy sessions, and educational seminars.
Recreational therapy: Recreational therapy plays another integral role in the therapeutic experience at Youth Care. Throughout our years of experience, we have found that participation in recreational activities gives adolescents a valuable opportunity to learn important life skills, including problem solving, communication, teamwork, and trust. Additionally, we have found that recreational therapy can enhance the self-esteem of our students as they develop new interests and discover talents that they did not previously know they possessed. Participating in these recreational activities also aids in enriching other types of skillsets as well, including coping skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and social skills. Our licensed recreational therapist guides and supervises students as they participate in both community and in-house recreational activities 3 to 7 times each week.
Experiential therapy: Students who are receiving treatment for autism may also participate in various experiential therapies throughout the duration of their time spent at Youth Care. Examples of the experiential options that students may engage in include situational therapy, expressive therapy, and exposure therapy. Their primary therapists will work with them to determine when these therapies may be most appropriately implemented.
Community service activities: Participation in community service activities occurs at least twice every month for students at Youth Care. They will have the opportunity to take part in various types of activities, which may include visiting the elderly, caring for animals at the Humane Society, and filling shelves at the Food Bank. These experiences allow students to develop a sense of empathy towards and an understanding of others. This, in turn, can aid them as they, themselves, continue to grow and progress in their treatment.
Academics: Knowing how important education is, Youth Care has a fully accredited academic program that meets from 9:00am to 5:00pm each weekday. This program allows students to receive all of the benefits of a traditional education while also having therapeutic interventions included in their daily schedules. The curriculum is led by special education teachers and secondary education teachers, all of whom have experience with and have been trained in working with youth who have varying learning abilities. When adolescents receive treatment for autism at Youth Care, they will not have to worry about falling behind academically because they will be able to earn school credits and achieve any academic goals they have, including graduating high school.
In addition to the treatment that is offered through our residential programming here at Youth Care, we are also pleased to offer partial hospitalization programming (PHP) for students with autism spectrum disorder. This option for day treatment allows adolescents to experience the same type of daily programming that students in the residential program receive, while being able to return home at the end of the day.
If your child has autism spectrum disorder and is in need of comprehensive treatment that will be tailored to meet his or her specific needs, look no further than Youth Care. Our caring and compassionate staff will dedicate themselves to ensuring that your child develops the skills necessary to successfully overcome the struggles that are plaguing him or her and move forward towards the bright and happy future that he or she deserves.