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Outdoor Teen & Adolescent Autism Treatment Center

SUWS of the Carolinas, is a life-changing wilderness-based treatment center for children, adolescents, and teens struggling with autism.

At our outdoor treatment center for troubled teens, we blend traditional clinical treatment modalities with wilderness therapy to empower adolescents and teens to overcome their mood disorders and find lasting recovery.

What is Autism?

Learn More About Autism

SUWS of the Carolinas is a therapeutic wilderness treatment center that focuses on short-term, high-impact clinical intervention and assessment for adolescents, ages 10 to 17, who are struggling with a range of academic, behavioral, emotional, and substance abuse issues. At SUWS of the Carolinas we provide four different treatment tracks (Approach, Phoenix Outdoor, Seasons, and SUWS), which are designed to meet the distinct needs of all of our students, including those who are battling social issues and/or who have received a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

The Approach program at SUWS of the Carolinas was created to help adolescents who are struggling with specific issues, such as Asperger’s disorder and the many side effects that accompany this condition. The overall goal of the Approach program is to provide each student with the utmost clinical care, using wilderness as a vessel for quality therapy. Our highly qualified staff focuses on creating a socially nurturing environment as well as providing each student with structure that encourages consistency and predictability.

Asperger’s disorder, or Asperger’s syndrome, is a neurological disorder that is characterized by impairment in social interaction, communication difficulties, and repetitive, restrictive behaviors. While previously considered its own disorder, Asperger’s syndrome is now classified on the mild end of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The presence of such a neurological disorder and the associated symptoms can create of variety of challenges in a young person’s life.At our treatment center, we have an outstanding, compassionate staff that has had years of experience in treating children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Together, we can help your child overcome the challenges he or she faces on a daily basis and provide them with the opportunity for a bright future.

Helping a Loved One

Helping a Loved One or Family Member with the Treatment Process

Having a child with autism spectrum disorder, or Asperger’s disorder as it was previously called, can pose many different challenges for the family. More than anything you want to help your child be successful in life, but at this point in time you may have no clue as to how to go about this. It may seem like a daunting task, but you need to get your child to a mental health professional as soon as possible so that he or she can begin therapy right away. Often the sooner treatment is started, the more successful your child will be in the future. If you are asking yourself, “does my son or daughter portray the symptoms of Asperger’s?” keep the following in mind:

  • Learn as much as you can about autism spectrum disorder including symptoms and treatment options.
  • Make an appointment with a mental health professional in order to have your child evaluated so that you know which level of treatment your child requires.
  • Be sure to follow any recommendations given to your by your child’s treatment team.
  • Be an involved participant in your child’s treatment process.
  • Attend any family therapy sessions or family workshops that are provided as a part of your child’s treatment process.
  • Stay in constant contact with your child’s treatment team and primary therapist.
  • Once your child returns home set up a daily routine for him or her to follow. If changes to the routine need to be made, make sure you inform your child beforehand.

Why Choose SUWS

Why Consider Treatment at SUWS of the Carolinas

Unfortunately, there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, but with effective treatment and continued support your child can still achieve a high quality of life. However, should treatment not be sought even children on the mild end of the autism spectrum are at risk for the development of many different complications throughout all areas of his or her life. Your son or daughter may have a particularly challenging time in an academic setting, in social settings, and may find it hard to establish a successful occupation in the future. Furthermore, these young people often face hardship when trying to establish interpersonal relationships, which often times can lead to lowered self-esteem. It is also important to mention that children with autism spectrum disorder are at an increased risk for developing symptoms associated with additional mental health conditions, which can lead to further complications.

Right now, you may be asking yourself, “does my son or daughter have Asperger’s disorder?” You don’t have to face this alone. The admissions team at our treatment center are highly trained and ready to answer any questions you may have about autism or the therapy that can help you and your child manage their disorder.

Types of Treatment

Types of Treatment Offered at SUWS of the Carolinas

Our Approach program is specifically designed for adolescents, ages 14 to 17, who are struggling with the challenges associated with Asperger’s disorder. Approach places a strong focus on addressing specific needs of this unique population, including difficulties with social skills, self-regulation, executive functioning, and self-direction. The wonderful staff at Approach utilizes a number of different treatment strategies to assist each student and their families meet their personal goals. Additionally, the therapy offered at SUWS of the Carolinas is designed to support the growth of each student and is based on a level system. Each level carries a specific intention, measurable objectives, and can be individualized for each student’s needs.

Treatment at Approach begins at our base camp, where students first meet their therapist and get acquainted with their cabin before heading out on their first wilderness expedition. Throughout the duration of the program each student will regularly go on multi-day hiking expeditions, while also continuing to participate in a number of therapeutic treatment methods. Some of the different therapeutic experiences we offer students in the Approach Program, which are designed to strengthen student’s minds, bodies, and souls, include:

Medication management: There is no medication available that is designed to treat Asperger’s disorder; however, if your child is struggling with a co-occurring disorder he or she may be prescribed medication to control the presence of any distressing symptoms. All medication use will be a combined decision between you and your child’s psychiatrist, with whom your child will meet on an as-needed basis. Our psychiatrist is available to meet with students at base camp every other week in the fall, winter, and spring, and every week in the summer. Additionally, we have a registered nurse on staff and all of our field staff are trained in medication administration.

Individual therapy: Each student in our Approach Program receives individual counseling sessions, at least two times each week, where they will meet with a licensed mental health professional. Individual therapy sessions can be spent on helping a student with Asperger’s disorder improve communication skills, better deal with emotions, and work on more positive behaviors.

Group therapy: Group therapy in the Approach Program at our wilderness treatment center uses concrete approaches and is strongly focused on social skills development. Some possible group topics may include communication skills, self-awareness, hygiene, and self-care.

Family therapy: Throughout the duration of a student’s stay at our treatment center, parents will participate in weekly calls with a therapist who will update them on their child’s progress and treatment status. Because we firmly believe that family members should also be making positive changes in their lives, we also provide a two-day family workshop for parents, which is designed to foster awareness of their own behaviors. We also offer a 10-week series of webinar classes where parents can learn more about wilderness therapy, Asperger’s disorder, and the treatment process.

Experiential therapy: In addition to traditional therapeutic methods, SUWS of the Carolinas offers a number of experiential therapies to provide our students with well-rounded recovery. Some of the therapies offered to our students include:

  • Therapy certified dogs
  • Challenge course
  • Cooking healthy meals
  • Yoga
  • Expressive arts
  • Ropes course
  • Backpacking
  • Trap building
  • Quartz striking
  • Bow drilling

Continuing Care

Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment

Upon completion of therapy at our treatment center, each student will participate in a three day graduation process, during which students will be reunited with family members for final closing sessions before returning home. During the graduation process parents will spend a night in the wilderness with their child, where they will begin to establish new behavior patterns. On the final day, a ceremony honoring the accomplishments of each graduate will be held prior to their departure.

As part of the treatment process at SUWS of the Carolinas, we provide each student and his or her family with transitional planning to help determine the most appropriate placement upon graduation from our program. SUWS therapists will coordinate aftercare planning with parents, referring professionals, and the family transition specialist as needed. Our therapists and other mental health professionals work diligently to make the transition to the next phase of treatment as smooth as possible.

Approach is a unique program here at SUWS of the Carolinas and is dedicated to help adolescents overcome behavioral issues that interfere with their emotional and psychological growth. Our highly recommended wilderness thearpy center will provide your child with treatment that will set the stage for a more successful future.

The communication skills that my son learned from SUWS and the way he is able to express and handle his emotions is so impressive

– Anonymous Parent