Students Who Benefit Most From Academics West
The central purpose of creating a therapeutic school with a rigorous academic program is to develop an environment capable of meeting each student’s needs. Academics West sometimes serves as an aftercare setting for adolescents who need a step-down environment capable of continuing their educational and therapeutic work or a setting intended to meet their needs without leaving home. The common denominator of all our students is that they are bright, kind, and creative and have failed to thrive in a typical educational placement. Moreover, we are proud of the diversity of our student population and staff. This diversity is represented by students of different races, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds and gender identities and orientations.
Our Upper School students are best described as “internalizers” because their struggles are more inwardly experienced than outwardly expressed. Internalizers often refer to those who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other struggles that make it hard for them to attend school and benefit from positive interpersonal relationships with peers. These students often have been diagnosed with co-occurring learning weaknesses or ADHD. Our CIA® model is designed to consider each student’s social-emotional needs and remediate learning weaknesses by using each student’s learning profile to develop an intervention plan to address areas of executive dysfunction. Simply, it is our intention that all Upper School students who successfully complete our program have rehearsed skills acquired through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and become strategic learners able to autonomously succeed in post-secondary education.
Like our older students, our Lower School students are highly intelligent and resourceful, but tend to externalize their behavior during times of stress. It is not uncommon for a Lower School student to start Academics West because their dysregulation was not tolerated at their previous school. As a group of behaviorists, we craft a behavior plan for each student to support their acquisition of adaptive skills to help them regulate and engage in learning and develop positive relationships with peers. Often, we have the rewarding pleasure of witnessing a once dysregulated student who has felt marginalized and misunderstood evolve into a capable student ultimately able to re-integrate into a less restrictive setting. Like some of our Upper School students, our younger students also need to acquire effective compensatory learning skills instructed by our special educators who are well versed in our CIA® approach to remediation.