Asheville Academy helped my child find meaning and structure. The support from AAG helped me keep her moving in the right direction!
– Alumni Parent
Alumni Information and Resources
Onwards and Upwards!
At Asheville Academy, we take pride in our work and how much we help the students that come through our doors and find their own way in the world. Part of that process is giving parents the tools and resources to help continue the progress made during the program. At Asheville Academy, we understand the months leading up to graduation and the anticipation of transitioning your child home often feel as stressful as it did when starting the journey. Just as it took a lot of learning, adjusting, and growing when your student first came to us, it is going to take an equal amount of those things to prepare for your child to return home and reintegrate into daily family life. While it is an exciting time for everyone, it often comes with a lot of questions, anxieties, and logistical nightmares. That’s why we have a Transition Coordinator to help guide parents through the muck.
Life at Asheville Academy can be a fun and fulfilling experience. We hate to see it end but it is important for all our students to take what they learned and rejoin their day-to-day lives. One advantage to graduating is that you can pass on words of wisdom and support to those still at the program. Whether it is for an afternoon or a week, many alumni enjoy coming back to campus to relive their fun experiences and show the growth they went through after graduating. This empathetic presence helps students gain perspective and is highly motivating to see people that were once in their position lead happy and fulfilling lives.
What Alumni Services Are Available To Me?
- 4 Parent Check-ins w/ Transition Coordinator (30min)
- Monthly parent group meetings (45min)
- Student Check-ins w/Transition Coordinator (15min, 2x/month)
- Student group meetings every other week (45min)
- Ability to visit campus and share story with current students
What Are The Transition Treehouses?
The Transition Treehouses, which include Redwood and Sequoia, are where students move to as they enter the final phase of Asheville Academy. It represents the freedom and agency developed through the program. It seems impossible these days to separate entirely from electronics. Luckily, self-regulation is one of our core concepts and part of that is being able to have that healthy relationship with technology. Practicing that self-regulation and having the support of students at the same stage of the program helps to solidify those healthy habits and demonstrate that they are ready to progress beyond Asheville Academy.
Roughly 3 months prior to graduation the Transition Coordinator begins collaborating with parents, the student’s therapist, the academic team, and the education consultant to start collecting therapeutic and academic recommendations. They also help with organization and the school application process. This includes scheduling/facilitating school interviews, help with essays, teacher recommendations, and test scores. Across the board, we recommend students applying to at least 3 schools, so when you imagine the application process and information gathering times 3 that can be a lot of moving pieces!
Another facet of the Transition Coordinator’s role is to help parents prepare for their student to return home. The process begins with a Home Readiness Assessment and a Family Values Project to help pull into view the areas that might need a little more attention/consideration while building a Home Agreement. What’s a Home Agreement? It is similar to the by now very familiar Visit Contract, but it ultimately differs in outlining daily routines, weekly expectations, rewards and privileges, and what the consequences are when a student is “out of agreement” or non-compliant. Once the agreement is complete, the Transition Coordinator shares it with the student’s therapist and organizes a family session where parents present the Home Agreement to the student allowing for the student to have an opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions. Ideally, the Home Agreement is completed and shared with the student prior to their last home visit so that it can be tested by replacing the trusted Visit Contract. This way if changes need to be made before graduation there is plenty of time to adjust and review what worked and didn’t work.
Insights From Parents
- Don’t treat visits like holidays (except on actual holidays) because when they come home you’re not making their favorite foods every day.
- The Redwood cabin and the transition out of AAG is a good first step in transitioning. It’s helpful for a kid to get the full experience in Redwood.
- Hire the most comprehensive wrap around service you can find – 360, Homeward Bound, Elevate Family. Many have waiting lists. Investigate and hire them now.
- In terms of what I would have done differently, I would have had a back-up option for a therapist. I think we were pretty prepared with school and home plan and things went really well, but the first therapist was a disaster and we had a very big gap in therapy that didn’t serve my daughter well. I wasn’t prepared for that.
- I think my best words of wisdom would be to not expect miracles and to trust the process. I definitely got very nervous with every little hiccup, but because she had such a strong foundation she was able to get back on course. So I could have saved myself a few sleepless nights.
- Moving into regular school was really tough and I should have done her repeat NeuroPsych a lot sooner to get her the right plan and adjust meds to make things a little easier on her.
- We probably wish we had started the transition process sooner – it all got bunched up on us. Lining up the doctors and therapists is key and takes longer than one would think.
- Some advice would be to expect some problems but give your daughter a chance to sort things out and use their skills. We were so worried what the first “blow up” would look like and it was a nice surprise to see her just go to her room or excuse herself from situations that in the past would have been extremely troublesome for her (and us).
- Another thing is to expect some standard “teenage” problems to come up that may or may not have been what went on before they left for Asheville. After all, your daughter is at least a year older than she was at home previously so the “problems” might be different from what you had before. We certainly have had some over the last year (For us it was “boy troubles”) but the severity and impact have been manageable within what I would call “normal teenage parameters” instead of what would have been the case had she not built up her resiliency at Asheville.
- Also what helped us navigate things is to have a good relationship with your daughter’s therapist/family therapist to navigate what does come up (because it will).
- There are no good answers to the phone. Figure out your plan, and amend it as needed. No phone is like preaching abstinence – you’ll get the equivalent of a pregnant kid who is jonesing for a phone fix. Mixed metaphors, sorry. Don’t have no phone rules – they’re coming off a lot of rules at AAG. Figure out how to turn off screen time. Have them turn in their phones at night. Invest in a Mighty (an annoying gadget that is today’s version of the ipod shuffle) if your kid gives you the “I just want music! It’s a coping tool for me.” Music doesn’t have to equal the phone but it’s the easiest. Look into purchasing Mighty for music at night or when phone time is restricted.