– From Our Files –
HOW EDUCATIONAL CONSULTATION WITH STEPHEN MIGDEN & ASSOCIATES HAS HELPED OTHER FAMILIES
We help struggling young people find success – and their parents find peace of mind
Many families, with many different kinds of educational and treatment needs, have been helped by Steve Migden and his associates. The following composite descriptions (drawn from actual clients but often not specific to any particular client, and containing details that have been altered in order to protect confidentiality) may assist you in understanding some of the issues that Stephen Migden & Associates can help families to address:
Behavioral, Psychiatric and Substance Abuse ProblemsFailed Local Mental Health Treatments
C.E. was a student with a long history of adjustment problems, and his parents had done just about all they could do to help him. However, neither C’s private specialized school, nor his psychiatrist, nor his psychotherapist could prevent C from becoming more withdrawn, more computer-addicted, and more belligerent with his parents. When C physically attacked his mother after she shut down the computer one day, the E’s realized that it was time to follow the psychiatrist’s recommendation and arrange a residential program for their son. Quickly but thoughtfully, Steve arranged for C’s placement in a clinically sophisticated program that also addressed C’s interest in music. There, after some struggles, C thrived and went on to become a well-adjusted student, successfully graduating from the program as a senior. He later pursued his college education at a school in the South.
B.N., who had been adopted from Eastern Europe, had always had some problems with attention and impulsive behavior. However, since entering middle school, she had begun to act out more seriously, hanging out with older kids and sending explicit photos of herself to peers and even strangers she’d “met” online. Equally concerning to her parents was the fact that, after a stay in a local psychiatric hospital, B had begun to cut, on her arms and thighs. The psychiatrist working with B referred the family to Stephen Migden & Associates, and our team quickly but thoughtfully put together a plan to help this adolescent. The parents were guided through the process of choosing a short-term, intensive treatment program that focused on DBT, a type of treatment shown to help those with self-destructive behavior. Then, upon B’s return home, our team of professionals put together an aftercare plan that included outpatient DBT, as well as home-based mentoring/coaching for both B and her parents. After a period of some struggle, B did make significant progress, learning how to manage her emotions and becoming involved with a more positive peer group.
Serious Behavior Problems
R.W. was a 16 year-old boy who was becoming more and more belligerent and defiant with teachers and his very concerned parents. He would continually defy his parents' curfews, became involved with a problem-filled peer group, and even began to engage in illegal activities. After R was suspended, for the second time, from his public high school (one of the finest in the area), his parents contacted Stephen Migden & Associates. Following a series of meetings with our team, Mr. and Mrs. W. placed R in a therapeutic wilderness program, where he received a comprehensive evaluation. There, the severity of R’s substance abuse – previously unknown to his parents – was identified. Under our guidance, R was placed in a special boarding school for adolescents who have both drug/alcohol and behavioral problems, where, after a period of significant resistance, he became a student leader and a top performer in academics.
Teen Substance Abuse
K.N.'s parents were referred to Steve Migden by the director of a local outpatient substance abuse program. K had been in the program for almost a year, but was unable to maintain sobriety. His adjustment to school, family and community continued to decline, even after a brief inpatient hospitalization. With Steve’s help, K entered a short-term residential drug treatment program, and from there entered a medium-term residential treatment program for dually diagnosed (mental illness and substance abuse) adolescents. He made excellent progress in both, which then allowed him to progress to a less restrictive environment, a well-structured but nurturing college prep boarding school with excellent clinical support and access to local substance abuse treatment services. Both K and his parents were very pleased with his progress.
College Planning Put Back on Track
K.S. was a gifted student whose life, due to psychiatric and substance abuse problems, was slowly but surely drifting out of his and his mother’s control. In the tenth grade, he had been moved from his mainstream day school to a local day school for students with emotional problems. However, even there, he continued to have many difficulties, including poor motivation, truancy, low grades, and staying out until late at night with an inappropriate peer group. Perhaps even more ominous to his mother, a single parent, was the fact that K was becoming more involved with a variety of drugs. He graduated from high school, but had no plans for the future, and his drug use only worsened. Referred to us by his psychiatrist, K was initially resistant to a treatment program. However, a combination of continued meetings with Steve and limit setting by his mother led K to agree to a stay in a short-term residential program for young adults with substance abuse problems. There, he took the first steps toward recovery, and agreed to a subsequent placement in a young adult transitional program, where he had the chance to clarify his life goals and begin his college planning.
Maximizing a Child’s Learning Potential
The last thing P.A.’s parents wanted to do was send their sweet, loving, significantly learning disabled daughter to a school away from home. However, years of frustration with the local special education program finally convinced them that they had little choice, so, when P was 14 years old, her parents contacted Steve Migden. After carefully reviewing P’s educational needs, Steve worked with P’s parents to find a small boarding school for learning disabled students that would be an easy drive from their home. Equally important, this school provided a level of nurturance and support that allowed D to experience it as a home away from home, so that she was finally able to thrive as a student and feel proud of herself for the first time in years.
Finding the Right Fit
B.L. was a very intelligent teenager who, despite his best efforts, continued to struggle, both socially and educationally, in his excellent local public high school. He was in mainstream classes, with resource room help, and also received private tutoring, arranged by his parents. However, in spite of these measures, B just could not master the curriculum in his academically demanding high school, and he seemed to have fewer and fewer friends with each passing year. B’s parents, who were both very savvy and knowledgeable,wanted their son to be in a small, supportive boarding school; however, despite their skills and knowledge, they were overwhelmed by the choices and uncertain about the differences among the schools that they had researched. They contacted Steve Migden, who along with one of his senior associates, met with the family, reviewed B’s school records and test reports, and then began a comprehensive school search, focusing on B’s unique needs. Working with both B and his parents, we guided the family through the school search process, including the all-important campus visits, and helped them to find a college prep boarding school for bright students with dyslexia – one that turned out to be a superb fit for this young man. B blossomed at his new school, where he achieved improved grades, became active in school clubs and sports, and developed a whole new set of friends.
Helping the Child with High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder
S.C. was a solitary, unhappy early adolescent. He spent all his days inside the house, either online or endlessly playing games on the computer. Although, earlier, in elementary school, he had expressed some interest in play dates and friendships, he was now perfectly content – or so he said – to just hang out at home with his electronic entertainment. Moreover, although he had been a good enough student in elementary school, since middle school S’s grades, and his motivation for school-work, had dropped considerably. Attempts by his parents to engage S in more social activities, such as school clubs, youth groups, or even dinner with the family, were met with rage and explosive arguments. Desperate to do something about all of this, Mr. and Mrs. C contacted us. Working in concert with S's therapist and parents, the team at Next Steps: Stephen Migden & Associates arranged for S's placement in a nurturing and well-structured therapeutic boarding school for students with High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder and related problems.
Young Adult Challenges
Chronic Psychiatric Problems
D.T. had a long history of serious psychiatric and substance abuse problems, dating back to early adolescence. Now a young adult, D found himself unable to keep a job, maintain friendships, or even engage in a reasonable discussion about his future with his very concerned parents. He frequently left the home for days at a time, and he was only minimally compliant with his prescribed medication. Fearing for their son’s safety, the T’s spoke with his psychiatrist, who recommended that the family consult with Steve Migden about arranging a more intensive treatment program. This was done, and Steve began an intensive review of D’s history and his complex needs. After careful research, he recommended a high quality, community-based residential program for young adults with dual diagnosis (mental illness and substance abuse). Among the options provided by this program was its step-down structure, which allowed D to graduate to more independence as he made progress in his sobriety and treatment compliance.
Serious Learning Disability in a Young Adult
We were contacted by the parents of T.M. about one year after she had graduated from a local private special education high school. Now that she was out of school, T was lonely and aimless, just sitting at home each day watching television, and only occasionally leaving the house to walk to a local fast food restaurant or perhaps attend a family gathering. She wanted to do more, but, owing to her cognitive challenges, could not organize a plan for herself. T's parents, moreover, knew that their daughter needed to become more independent, socialize more, and perhaps even develop a vocation. They turned to Steve Migden, who met with the family, reviewed all the relevant educational records, and referred T to a small, supportive residential program that specialized in teaching life and vocational skills to young adults with cognitive disabilities.
Maximizing Learning Potential
A Better High School Experience
Sometimes, families seek our guidance when their child does not have a serious learning or behavioral problem, but instead they simply want to help their student maximize his or her learning potential in a more supportive or challenging environment. For example, W.D. was a student in a very large public high school where, as she described it, "You're a number; no one gives extra help a lot." W's parents described how their daughter, who had been diagnosed with mild ADD some years earlier, was an inconsistent student who always wanted to get grades that were better than the 80's she typically earned. W, who had no behavioral or substance abuse problems, wanted to attend a small, supportive boarding school where she would have a chance to develop greater maturity, improve her grades and study skills, and more fully focus on the college search process. Our team helped W and her parents to research and visit a number of schools, one of which, located in the Northeast, seemed to fit W's needs in many important ways. W enrolled there for her junior year, enjoyed the experience, and, most important, became an improved, more mature student.