Behavioral Modification Camp?


New Member
Our difficult child's therapist told us today that she is submitting a recommendation that we get her involved in a summer time behavioral modification camp. I know of the "boot camps" and "wilderness camps", but the one she suggested is a Horse Camp. Does anyone here have experience with these programs and how effective they are?

Frankly, the therapist has DEEP concerns about our difficult child's "DISTURBING lack of EMPATHY for anyone else but herself" and thinks this is the kind of program that can help with that. If anyone has any insight, please let me know, it would be greatly appreciated.

ALSO on a HIGH note, our difficult child seen her psychiatrist yesterday!!!! She has prescribed a new medication that she is hoping will help soften the gap between her "ups" and her "downs"...she prescribed LEXAPRO, does anyone here have any experience with this medication? They have a great medication training program at this psychiatrist's office, so I left there with TONS of information, but personal experiences are always more helpful guides to me than the doctored list of information they give you.


I have two children on the SSRI antidepressant Lexapro. Both were taking Lamictal for depression following bad reactions to other SSRIs. But Lamictal failed to lift their depression completely so Lexapro was added. difficult child 2 is stable on a medication combo of Lamictal and Lexapro. difficult child 1 is doing better, but his depression is still there. We're hoping to raise his Lexapro dose once school ends for the summer.

If your difficult child is having true "highs" as in hypomania/mania, Lexapro could make that worse. Lexapro is really just for the "downs," as in depression.


Trying to save the day.
in my opinion, Lexapro is a very good antidepressant. It really helped with my extreme irratability and depression. I took it for about 3 years with absolutely no side effects. The only problem that I had was as I gradually went off of it, I experienced what they call brain zaps. Nothing too terrible and I really see it as a sign that I probably shouldn't have been going off of it. I have taken several other antidepressants, all of which had some side effect that I noticed like jumpiness or stomach problems (serotonin affects the digestive system) so I knew what to look for but had absolutely no side effects what so ever.

I also have a friend whose 14 yo daughter was suffering from serious depression. When she found a suicide note in her daughter's pocket she immediately sought help. She was put on Lexapro and it turned her life around. She is now a very bright and ambitious 18 yo and still takes the Lexapro. However, they can always tell when she has missed a dose, because she becomes very irratable!

As smallworld said above, I would just watch to make sure it doesn't send her into a manic state. Overall, I think it is a good choice if warranted and I wouldn't hesitate to give it to my child if she really needed it.


My difficult child has been on Lamictal for about 18 months. Was doing very good until about mid year. I switched jobs (he doesn't handle any change very well) From mid year on he has just been out of control. psychiatrist thought he would address the anxiety and hoped other issues would subside. Lexapro 10 mgs. This was prescribed on a Thursday. difficult child was up for 4 nights straight. He likes to sleep, and this was just a wide awake, toss and turn thing. So, on Monday psychiatrist changed to Remerom. He was able to sleep, but behavior worsened. AFter about a month or so of that, we are now just back to Lamictal. Would like to try Lexapro again with a much smaller dose, but he did not do well at all.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

I haven't had any experience with this type of camp though the tweedles have gone to special needs camps with highly trained counselors - they all specialized in behaviorial redirection & coping skills. kt, especially, loves these camps.

Ask for references & experiences from other parents, keeping in mind you're going to get good & bad. Weed through all that & find out the screening process of staff (along with credentials).

If it seems like a good fit for your difficult child I'd go for it.


New Member
Lexapro really helped even out my husband's mood swings (has Borderline (BPD) traits) He said he could think clearer when he was on it. If you go with the horse camp I'd love to know how it works out. Step-difficult child(1) has serious issues with lack of empathy for anyone or anything. Therapists have always said "it's his age." Hmmmm, from ages 3-17?


Well-Known Member
I would be hesitant about Lexapro or any antidepressant for stabilizing moods. In most cases, especially with kids, antidepressants throw kids with moodswings into a sort of angry mania, although it can take up to up to two months to do it (it takes time to build up in the bloodstream). I've taken almost every antidepressant around, but, although I have bipolar, it's a form of bipolar that is mostly depression. However, even I got manicky on a few of them. You can try it, but be on the lookout. Take care.
PS--Lack of empathy/self-centerness is common in Autistic Spectrum Disorder; the kids/adults have an inability to either understand others or show any compassion they might feel. It's not universal (my Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified son shows LOTS of compassion), but it's very common, especially in Aspergers Syndrome, which is hard to diagnose. You need to see a neuropsychologist. Psychiatrists, in my opinion, aren't very good at spotting it because it's hard to spot and isn't a psychiatric problem. NeuroPsychs do lots of evaluation and tests--my son had twelve hours! Before that he just had tons of wrong diagnosis.


New Member
Hi, my difficult child daughter is on lexapro and in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) where she is responsible for taking care of her own horse. I love the program. She has only been there 3 months and really hasn't been doing so hot, so I can't give any opinions if they work. My difficult child also struggles with lack of empathy for others. Her therapist says she is very selfish, "the world revolves around me" kind of thing, and lacks remorse. The therapist says most kids who suffer from BiPolar (BP)/Conduct Disorder have these issues.

My difficult child loves the horse program. I really think that teaches them to focus on something other than themselves. Hoping for good results!!!

Good luck with yours


New Member
Therapeutic equine camps are awesome. They really do teach the kids empathy and responsibiity since it is the kids who truly take care of the horse and horses actually need a bit of care. They also help with self-esteem issues since a horse is such a large creature and there is a large feeling of self-accomplishment when you get the horse to do what you want. If you can get your daughter in one, go for it!


New Member
Her therapist said the one she was trying to get her into was in Southern Illinois, which isn't too far away, a few hours probably. The one she wants to send her to first is only a week long, it isn't like she will be gone Long-Term or anything, so there would not be travel issues with visitation and things like that. She said that if this doesn't work, she may review the option of a longer-term camp of the same nature, but she would like to try the short-term first. She doesn't really recommend the "wilderness camps" or the "boot camps", becuase she thinks that the equine programs are much more effective, and most of the kids that go there are somewhat excited at the concept of working with the horses, so there isnt' the same hostility towards the people who put them there as some of the others. It only costs 300 dollars for a week, which I thought was MORE THAN FAIR, considering some of the ones I found online were closer to 200 dollars a DAY!!!!!

Our difficult child is nowhere on the Autistic Spectrum, but I think that her lack of empathy comes more from lack of experience. This is a child who was ignored through most of her childhood, as her BIO mother was more interested in doing drugs and dating abusive men than spending quality time with her child. So not only did she not have a loving caring environment, but she also witnessed that extra-ordinary LACK of empathy in the abusive relationships she seen her mother in. Her father and I are looking forward to having the opportunity to send her to this camp, and of course, we will miss her while she is away, but it will be good for her. I will keep everyone posted and let you all know how it goes if she gets into the program!

As for the Lexapro, I am a little nervous about starting this, but the psychiatrist is going to keep her on her sleeping medications to hopefully avoid the insomnia associated with this medication sometimes. We have the Rx in hand, and we are just waiting for CPS to approve it, then we will get started!!!!


Well-Known Member
I also believe the horse camp would be an excellent idea. I wanted to sed my difficult child to one last year but we couldn't fit it in her schedule. She worked with horses all summer though in a therapeutic riding center and it did wonderful things for her.