We have three children and our oldest and only son started showing some signs of school difficulty as well as difficulty with relationships in early elementary school. As he got older he got in some fights with other boys and, for awhile, we attributed his behavior to maturity or "boys will be boys". When he was in eight grade he made a suicide attempt. We took him to psychologists and psychiatrists and he was diagnosed with depression and ADHD.
His behavior escalated and he had more frequent episodes of violence both at home and with his peers. He particularly targeted his youngest sister. One day he shoved me to the ground and we decided that enough was enough. In haste we selected a therapeutic boarding school. It soon became apparent that this selection was not a good match and six months after our son went to this program we sent him to a wilderness program in Utah. The wilderness program proved to be a Godsend to us. We got hooked up with a psychologist that did extensive testing and made recommendations as to the type of program our son needed. We also began working with an educational consultant who selected about 6 programs he thought would be well suited to our son and our family's needs. We began investigating these programs and eventually selected Three Springs Duck River.
We took our son to Three Springs Duck River (TSDR) in October 2005. We realized going in that the living facilities had no electricity or running water (although the boys did go to "main campus" where such facilities were offered). They went to a school that had electricity and plumbing and they slept in a "servo" with heat when it got below 27 outside and slept in either the school or the administration building when it was extremely hot.
It took us awhile to "get with the program". As is typical of other parents, I think, we seemed to think we knew what was best for our son and didn't quite agree with all of the treatment team's decisions. The treatment team and the higher statuses held our son accountable for his behavior and didn't give in to him like we did. For the first nine months of his stay he did virtually nothing--not much on weekly goals, not much on school work, etc. He later told us he thought if he didn't work at the program we would think it wasn't working and we would "pull him".
TSDR also uses positive peer pressure. When our son failed to complete his weekly goals several weeks in a row the group was "campsighted" meaning they couldn't go to main campus. They had to do school and take all of their meals at campsight. It didn't take too many days like that before the other boys in the group put pressure on our son to do the work he needed to do. The philosophy of TS is to help the boys see how their behavior impacts others around them and when they don't carry their load others are affected.
The staff at TSDR was extremely knowledgeable and consistent. The didn't enter into interactions with any of the boys with the baggage that we as parents had. There was none of the stuff like happens at home where the boy will go from one parent to the other to get what he wanted. They could go to any staff member and would always receive the same response. The staff were very helpful to parents as well. There were times when we were in tears because of something that happened (or didn't happen!) with our son and the staff were there for us as well.
Our son graduated from TSDR and from HS at TS. He has been home for over a year now. When he went to TS he had a violent temper and we never knew what to expect from him. Since he has been home he has had a very level temperament and TS taught him numerous other ways to cope and respond than hitting something.
He also had a fairly serious drug problem. At TS he had some Alcohol and Drug treatment and was encouraged to go to AA/NA meetings. He has been faithfully attending meetings since he came home and he told us the other day he will never use drugs again. He has been clean for about 3 years now and TS helped turn him around in this way.
TS has been there for us following our son's graduation as well. We developed close relationships with staff and other parents. In fact, I am going on an annual girls weekend with three other moms I met while my son was in the program! We feel like TS saved our son's life and saved our family.