This week Kate Gosselin once again graces the cover of People Magazine. Her son Colin is missing from the family photo.
The Gosselin family has always been controversial because of how much they have shared of their lives in the public forum.
There is now even more controversy over how Colin has been sent away to work on his special needs, especially given his young age.
He is only 12 years old.
As a therapeutic educational consultant and parent to someone with special needs, the decision to send a child to treatment is not
an easy one. I applaud her decision to seek help for her son. I admire her for trying to be honest, help bust stigma around treatment, and doing the best she can for her son. I also applaud her for keeping details secret, as with any medical issue, this will be Colin's story to tell.
Sending a child to treatment, whether it be a residential treatment center or therapeutic boarding school can happen for a variety of reasons.
There may be a severe enough learning disability that the child is not progressing in either public school nor a therapeutic day school setting.
There may an autism spectrum disorder where resources to match individual needs are not available. There may be an emotional coping issue to the point that there are safety concerns for both himself or others. The family may have exhausted all local and outpatient resources, which is usually the case, prior to the decision to send a child to treatment. Additionally, in the case of multiple births, there may be an in utero organic brain development issue. At this point in time, when all else has been tried, a 24/7 therapeutic environment is the only one that can help a child learn the skills they need to learn to cope in their world.
Private residential treatment programs are not institutionalized. They are often home like setting. They often use animal and brain based therapies to help a younger child heal. The people that I have encountered work in the field do so because they truly want to help children heal. This is tough work and takes a certain type of person to work with children with this high level of need.
It also takes a certain type of Mom and Dad to be able to say, we have tried absolutely everything and we need to do more.