While your son may need the added support of Black Mountain Academy, we also want you to build a healthier bond with him while he is away. We have a flexible schedule for family visits where you and your son’s therapist work to create time together that serves your family goals. Ideally, visits provide opportunities to practice healthy communication, improve reciprocal engagement, and generalize the skills your son is learning. We also have regular academic breaks where you and your son’s therapist can plan for visits in our community or at home. Our ultimate goal is that your family has a closer bond when your son completes his stay at Black Mountain Academy.
By design, our average length of stay is intended to be 12-15 months. With that being said, many of our families are from areas of the country in which they are unable to access this type of specialized education and social support. For those students and their families, it may be beneficial for a student to complete their secondary education at Black Mountain Academy. In the case where our students will be completing high school while enrolled, we are able to offer an accredited high school diploma.
We know our students will have moments in which they become emotionally dysregulated, engage in social conflict, or make poor choices. Our goal is always to provide the coaching and redirection they need so that those moments become less frequent and less severe over time. In fact, it is very important that we experience the challenges your son faces so we can assess what he needs in those moments. We use the tough moments to teach adaptive skills and emotional awareness while also encouraging your son to develop accountability and insight into himself. While we maintain clear boundaries and expectations, we do not engage in a punitive model solely focused on consequences. Rather, our emphasis is upon your son’s strengths and values and how he can reflect those more clearly by making healthy thoughtful choices in the future.
Black Mountain Academy is unique in that an integral part of the weekly structure involves participation in the community of Black Mountain. We partner with local organizations to enrich your son’s educational, social, and personal growth. Each week he and other students participate in local events, engage in recreation at our local parks, pool, and athletic facilities. He will also be involved in experiential trips that tie classroom curriculum to real world lessons through service, recreation, and active hands-on learning. For the majority of our students, we help them find personal internships and/or jobs that allow them to expand the foundational skills they are developing. Additionally, we will work with your son as he identifies a personal project in the community that allows him to explore his interests and practice the skills he is developing while giving back in a meaningful way.
All of our students have had moments throughout the school career in which their cognitive abilities are not always reflected in their academic performance. Additionally, the increasing social and academic demands that occur in middle and high school often contribute to our students falling behind or experiencing more school anxiety. Given this, Black Mountain Academy residential coaches, therapists, and teachers work collectively to aid your son’s success in the classroom. A comprehensive approach that includes emphasis upon curriculum as well as complex problem solving, executive function, social skills, emotional regulation, mindfulness, and Character and Habits Of Work goals (CHOW) allows our students to improve their academic performance. We also intentionally use an integrated, experiential, and inquiry based educational approach to help your son develop how to be a learner rather than simply acquiring information.
A defining component our educational and treatment approach is the examining the applicability of the skills your son learns once he has transitioned from Black Mountain Academy. When we are coaching your son through moments of difficulty or teaching him a new skill, we often ask “how will what we are teaching help you have a better relationship with your family, be successful at home or a job, make a new friend, or be more happy?” We also use normative community experiences to help your son practice these skills across contexts and in less structured environments so he can internalize what he is learning. We know that the more practice he has in an array of situations, the more his skills will be generalized after he wraps up his time with us. Lastly, we intentionally increase the expectations and responsibility your son experiences during the latter months of his stay so he can further develop the skills he’s gained in less than optimal situations. There are times that a skill that is well developed needs to be practiced on the job, at the basketball court, or under pressure for your son to fully retain the work he has done while at Black Mountain.
We believe that we should “begin with the end in mind”. If the goal for your son is to re-enter a school at home following graduation from Black Mountain Academy, our team wants to know this at the beginning of our work together. By planning from the outset, we can tailor our approach and the skills we teach to best prepare your son for success following his stay. For students who may be transitioning into young adulthood, we want to ensure they have the skills they need for college and career planning as well as independence. For our students who have more high school to complete, we want to ensure their experience here helps them prepare for the type of school they will enter. An important aspect of this planning is working with your son’s therapist to have a continual assessment of how the next setting can be suited to help your son thrive while also examining what he needs to learn to have a successful transition into that environment.
Technology is a necessary part of the 21st century school and today’s modern workplace. Black Mountain Academy provides access to technology with an emphasis upon developing the skills and balance your son needs to be successful in his future. However, many of our students have struggled to regulate their use of video games, social media, and screen time. In providing a laptop and access to technology, we also hold clear boundaries about when your son accesses technology throughout his stay. During the first few months of his stay, your son will have access to a laptop that is primarily used for academic and therapeutic assignments. He will also have access to the internet but with limitations on the content and amount of free time to access his interests. Over time, as your son demonstrates integrity and responsibility, we provide increasing opportunity and freedom for him to access his cell phone or for recreational use of technology. This allows us to support him developing healthy habits and accountability and to assess any ongoing limitations you may need to enforce as he transitions from Black Mountain Academy.
Meaningful social relationships are a crucial part of feeling connected and satisfied in one’s life. As with many of our students, your son’s social difficulty is a prominent challenge that takes tremendous time and attention to address. To do so, we combine formal social skills instruction with in vivo social coaching to help your son navigate common errors he may be making, to increase his social awareness, and to improve social cognition. An important aspect is fostering an environment that is marked by patience and kindness while the emphasis is upon everyone helping one another improve their relationships. While students provide feedback and role modeling to one another, greater emphasis is placed upon one-on-one staff coaching and practice in a variety of “real world” situations in the community so our students broaden their social competence and self-confidence. A marker of their success is the friendships they begin to form within the school as well as the community of Black Mountain. In time, those successes spark the motivation and courage to form new friendships in town, at home during a visit, or at an internship or job.
Black Mountain Academy officially opened on August 26th, 2016.
We are a partner program of The Aspiro Group which operates six unique, therapeutic programs that serve adolescents and young adults. Our focus is upon quality of care, educational and clinical best practices, and providing individualized support to clients and families. One important aspect of The Aspiro Group is that many of our partner programs specialize in the areas of neurodevelopmental disorders and high functioning autism. Aspiro Programs are partner owned rather and than funded by investment capital which fosters local leadership and allows the focus to remain on the individuals being served.