Why a Parent Sends a Child Away to an Inpatient Program

Sending a child away to a residential, wilderness, or assessment program can have powerful benefits for the child and the family. This may not be an easy choice, but it does have advantages.

Using Distance as a Therapeutic Tool

Utilizing distance as a therapeutic tool has these advantages:

  • Ensures the immediate safety of the child and family at home.
  • Removes the immediacy of communication- “knee jerk” responses to anger or frustration are eliminated while the child can learn new, healthy ways to deal with their emotions.
  • Removes child’s current stressors, peer group, and temptations.
  • Serves as a total reset for the family. Communication can resume slowly.
  • Ensures the child is focused on the therapy and interactions of the distant facility. Removing the temptation to get their friends to “rescue” them from local treatment.
  • Improves accuracy of assessment– outpatient treatment relies on the child accurately recounting events, feelings, and behaviors sometimes days after. At inpatient program assessment is in real-time.
  • Ensures the confidentiality of the child.  At a local facility, the child will likely encounter peers or even form relationships with individuals that could potentially continue after treatment.

Making the Decision

We encourage families to consider a Balance Sheet of pros and cons to weigh the decision to send their child to an inpatient program.


  • Does the cost for changes and a new direction now outweigh waiting and hoping for maturity and changes with time?
  • Have efforts already made show great or limited success?  What can change without a significant intervention?
  • Are things better today than a few months or years ago?
  • How likely is it that things get worse?
  • How long might changes take at home and what kind of time and financial investment is required?



About admin

The team behind Your Little Professor is dedicated to providing factual information for parents and caretakers of adolescents on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. We believe in connecting families to the necessary resources in order to help individuals on the spectrum succeed in day-to-day life.