Teens & Young Adults

Evaluating Teen Programs

Considering a wilderness program or therapeutic boarding school for your child?

A teenager with ADHD sits under trees taking notes
A teenager with ADHD sits under trees taking notes

Discuss the options carefully with your spouse. It can be a painful decision to send a child away. To make it through the process, both parents must be in total agreement.

Make sure your financial house is in order. Wilderness programs can run $3,000 per week. One year at a therapeutic boarding school can cost as much as four years at a moderately priced college. Don’t forget travel expenses.

Hire an educational consultant to help you find the program that best fits your child. Check references and ask other parents about their experiences with the programs or schools you’re considering.

Talk to your school district. It’s unlikely that the district will offer financial assistance — but there’s no harm in trying. If you’re already working with your school’s educational team and you think your child may need placement in a residential setting, get that written into your child’s IEP before you send him away. It doesn’t hurt to have an attorney.

Do not waver in your decision. Once your child has been placed in a program or school, he will plead with you to be allowed to come home. Don’t do it. I’ve corresponded with many people who are struggling once again because guilt or loneliness convinced them to bring their children home too soon.

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