SUWS of the Carolinas, is a life-changing wilderness-based treatment center for children and adolescents who are struggling with pervasive developmental disorder.
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.
Learn More About Pervasive Developmental Disorder
SUWS of the Carolinas is a therapeutic wilderness treatment center that focuses on short-term, high-impact clinical intervention and assessment for adolescents, both male and female, ages 10 to 17, who are struggling with pervasive development disorders. At our center, 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 pervasive developmental disorders and the many side effects that accompany these disorders. The overall goal of the Approach therapy track 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.
Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) are a group of disorders that are characterized by severe impairment in many different areas of development, such as lack of social interaction skills and underdeveloped communication skills. Children and adolescents with a pervasive developmental disorder may have problems using or understanding language, have difficulty relating to others, and may engage in unusual play with toys or other objects.
Before being grouped together as autism spectrum disorder, autism disorder, Asperger’s disorder, and childhood disintegrative disorder, all used to belong to the pervasive developmental disorders group. At SUWS of the Carolinas, our exceptional, kindhearted staff has had years of experience in treating teens, children, and adolescents who have been diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorders. We will work closely with you and your son or daughter, addressing your child’s specific needs and promoting better socialization and communication, which when not addressed can often interfere with learning and daily functioning.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member with the Treatment Process
If you suspect that your son or daughter may have a pervasive developmental disorder, you should seek out professional treatment as soon as possible. Your family physician will be able to conduct a thorough evaluation of your child, ruling out any medical causes for the presenting symptoms, and will be able to provide you with referrals for mental health professionals and pervasive developmental disorder specialists who can help you develop a treatment plan that will work best for your child.
Through participation in a number of different types of therapy, such as speech-language therapy, play-based therapy, and behavior therapy your child will obtain the skills needed to reduce problematic behaviors and build stronger communication and social skills.
In addition to ensuring that your child gets the best treatment available, it is crucial you are an active participant in the treatment process. By working closely with your child’s treatment team and following through with therapy at home, your child will get the most he or she can out of treatment.
Why Consider Treatment at SUWS of the Carolinas
Early intervention, which usually includes specialized education programs and support services, plays a crucial role in improving the outcome of a child with a pervasive developmental disorder. A young person with a pervasive developmental disorder can experience a wide range of symptoms, ranging in severity, which can cause a number of different complications in that young person’s life. Children with pervasive developmental disorders often struggle in school and, without specialized education, may have an extremely hard time learning. Additionally, children with pervasive developmental disorders usually have communication difficulties, which can result in the inability to establish and maintain meaningful relationships. Furthermore, it is also common for a child with a pervasive developmental disorder to be struggling with symptoms associated with an additional mental health condition that can add additional challenges to the ones already brought on by the developmental disorder.
Types of Treatment Offered at SUWS of the Carolinas
At our wilderness treatment center, the Approach Program is specifically designed for adolescents, ages 14 to 17, who are struggling with the challenges associated with pervasive developmental disorders. This therapy track 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 treatment curriculum 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.
The Approach Program will begin at our base camp, where students will first meet their therapist and get acquainted with their cabin before heading out on their first wilderness expedition. Throughout the duration of therapy, 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 include:
Medication management: Medication is often used in the treatment of pervasive developmental disorders in order to address the presence of specific behavior problems. Medication may also be prescribed for the presence of a co-occurring disorder. All medication use will be a combined decision between you and your child’s psychiatrist, whom they will meet with 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 at our treatment center 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 pervasive developmental disorders further improve his or her communication and social skills.
Group therapy: Group therapy in the Approach Program at SUWS of the Carolinas 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 SUWS therapist where they will continuously update on their child’s progress and treatment status. Additionally, because we firmly believe that family members should also be fostering positive changes in their lives we provide a variety of options that can help family members grow along with their child. In addition to weekly calls, we 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 the wilderness program, pervasive developmental disorders, as well as how they can best help their child’s recovery 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:
- Ropes course
- Trap building
- Quartz striking
- Bow drilling
- Therapy certified dogs
- Challenge course
- Cooking healthy meals
- Expressive arts
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
Upon completion of therapy at our treatment center, each student will participate in a three day graduation process, where students and their families will come together to participate in final therapy 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 is as smooth as possible.
The entire staff at SUWS of the Carolinas is very proud of the Approach program and its unique approach to treatment for adolescents who are struggling with pervasive developmental disorders. Our highly recommended wilderness therapy center will provide your child with exceptional treatment that will set the stage for a more successful future.