Therapeutic Boarding School?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JLo, Apr 3, 2017.

  1. JLo

    JLo New Member

    Hi. I'm a new member, as of today. My 12 year-old son (in 6th Grade) has ADHD, ODD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and is on his 6th school, having recently left a highly regarded special needs school. [I use the term "left" loosely.] His dad and I are at our wits end: we have him in therapy three times a week, have seen the top psychiatrists; OTs and psychologists and I attend parenting classes and my own therapy. We have tried medication (he's on Focalin, Zoloft and Intuniv) ayuveda, brushing, meditation, essential oils (don't laugh) and so many other things... but I feel as if I have come to the end of the road. He is bright and charming but won't put forth any effort in digging out from this place he finds himself in and can be so utterly confounding that I worry I am considering boarding school just to get some peace in my home. We fight with him a dozen times daily. And I mean daily. Every day of his 12+ years. He has been unsuccessful with community living situations like camp so wilderness programs scare me but I just don't know if there are any schools in my community left that can or will accept him. So I am investigating therapeutic boarding schools now. Anyone have any advice/experience? Any experience with wilderness programs? Would appreciate any/all opinions. Thank you.
  2. Douglas H

    Douglas H New Member

    JLo, I feel for you. My relationship with my 12 year old broke down last summer, and I made the difficult choice of sending him to a wilderness program for three months, followed by a therapeutic boarding school. I worked with an educational consultant to choose the boarding school. A good - preferably recommended - educational consultant can be pretty expensive: but they should be able to quickly diagnose your child's situation, and provide suggestions for available schools and programs around the country that could be a good fit. I would hesitate to recommend any specific program or school, because the fit for each school, program, and child will be different. My recommendation would be to try to identify a good consultant and maybe see if you can work with them for a minimal fee to come up with a pre-qualified list of schools and programs to explore.

    Now, as for my experience with wilderness and therapeutic boarding school: mixed, but positive. Mixed, because it is extremely difficult to be separated from your child for such a long time; and more importantly, because I've only seen modest benefit for my son. Positive for three reasons: 1: It's given me the space I needed to work with my own therapist and coach to build the skills I need to be a more effective parent to a child with behavior issues. 2: My son is in a safe place where he is supported despite ongoing poor behavior. 3: My son may possibly be slightly more aware of his own behavior and slightly more inclined to behave more positively.

    That is my own experience. Hope this helps.
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  3. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Well-Known Member

    Welcome, JLo. If you want to read other threads discussing therapeutic boarding schools, enter that term in the little search box at the top of your page.

    I'm so sorry that your home is a battle zone. You sound like an amazing mother who is very tired from the constant struggle. :grouphug:
  4. JLo

    JLo New Member

  5. JLo

    JLo New Member

    Thank you, all.
  6. Coffee Lover

    Coffee Lover New Member

    I really don't have anything to add that's of real help...other than, I would be lying to say that looking into boarding schools hasn't crossed my mind.

    It gets to be taxing on a family when one person is SO off the rails. Even the kindest hearts full of grace can start to feel completely overwhelmed. And other kids? I can't imagine how my daughter feels towards us or her brother sometimes when we have to focus solely on him and ask her to please hang out and let us work him through something. It's hard.

    I also sometimes think, there has to be someone who deal with kids like this day in and day out. Someone who has seen it all. Twice. Someone who is an expert on these kinds of kids and knows some sort of formula, plan, or "trick" that I don't know that can get this turned around.

    Honestly, I think you're a great mother for seeing what is happening (putting on blinders helps no one), for protecting your whole family while helping your child, and for being willing to make some possibly hard choices for the better of your son. That's hard, not for the faint of heart, and you're doing it. You're a great mom!
  7. UpandDown

    UpandDown Active Member

    When our son was 15, we sent him to a wilderness therapy program for 3 months. It was a very difficult decision but he was completely out of control with raging, reckless behavior, and was unwilling to work with any therapist or doctor here at home. We were digging for answers to why he was so out of control. We also had met with an educational consultant who recommended this program. We were at the point where our home was chaos, daily screaming fights and both my husband and I felt out of control ourselves. We also feared for his safety due to the reckless behavior.

    Its been 2 years since he came home and I really can't say if we would or wouldn't do it again. The positives were :

    Our entire family benefited greatly from the time away from his drama. We spent the 3 months working with the staff over the phone on learning how to cope with his behavior in better ways. We also were able to connect with parents of other kids there who had similar problems. The support was priceless. He was able to have a complete assessment along with observing him over weeks to get a handle on what was going on with him. He learned a lot about himself and why he was so angry. They made him take his medicine everyday which allowed them to see if it was helping him at all.

    The negatives were it was an excruciating 3 months to be away from our son. Also, the changes in behavior were amazing for about a month and then he began to slip back to some of his old habits. They did recommend that he go straight to therapeutic boarding school but we decided against it. We knew that they would likely recommend that before we even sent him. We had already decided that we could not absorb that kind of cost($10,000 a month type cost). Another negative is his wilderness program cost $27,000 for 3 months.

    There have been several big bumps since coming home but the extreme chaos and out of control behavior is gone. We have peace in our home but are still working hard to get him move forward. It is not a magic fix but it can load both you and your child with tools to cope.
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  8. The good thing is that the stress is gone while your child is away. The bad thing is that you have to learn a lot so you and your child don't fall back to old patterns.

    We didn't choose a longterm program. It seemed to work but then again we have not seen our daughter since she left when she was 18. She is totally off the grid.