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Chav t1_j615zkb wrote

It's one of these "schools for troubled teens", so it's not surprising. Like if the parents do any research it should be obvious that you shouldn't send them there to begin with.


X-the-Komujin t1_j61slmr wrote

I'm autistic and these kinds of schools exists for us as well as some of the US considers us "troubled" in much of the same way. I don't like injecting politics into stuff unless I genuinely believe it is relevant, but I'm convinced this type of school isn't uncommon in conservative areas in the US and is overlooked by pretty much everyone as they have outwardly positive reputations by locals and people in more progressive or highly populated areas either don't know about them period or have actual means of support.

It's not just Utah, it's far more common than you think. I know multiple similar schools in Pennsylvania and have heard of them existing all around the rust belt. All of them are shit for the same reason as their modus operandi is basically "teach them to cope". The specific school I went to never helped me succeed in any particular way as the education was lackluster given when I finally managed to get back into the primary school system through my mother asking staff to let me out for high school.

Eventually my education was far behind than the rest and I started failing in high school enough to the point of where I flunked multiple times and felt I had to drop out. Keep in mind, my elementary school grades were fine as my time in there was my middle school years. It was basically lacking critical lessons in important topics. In my school, math was very clearly put on the backburner and social studies basically wasn't taught. They basically entirely focused on English because some students were incapable of speaking or writing due to severe autism, yet plenty of neurotypicals were there for behavioral issues. So their "lessons" pretty much came at the detriment of everyone as someone severely autistic isn't going to start talking or writing no matter how many lessons you give them while everyone else learns nothing.

That doesn't speak of the many children preceding and following me who were not only treated like absolute shit but set up for failure with all of these schools. In the event someone tries to gaslight me about it not being bad, I'll just say this ahead of time: The school I was in was a redesigned prison with concrete walls and no windows outside of specific rooms. Meanwhile multiple staff were burly 6+ foot ripped men in the event someone there was brought to their snapping point or otherwise stepped out of line. I was never a violent person myself, but I wake up in cold sweats from nightmares over a decade later remembering certain kids get angry enough to get pulled out screaming and kicking by those men. It was a prison both metaphorically and literally in every conceivable manner.

The people who make these types of schools have a special place in Hell for me. I do hope you have a bit more insight into how these schools operate and there's no amount of money I wouldn't give to ensure every individual school like this gets shut down permanently.


zalipie t1_j62078q wrote

I am so sorry you had to go through that.


X-the-Komujin t1_j62anrv wrote

I appreciate your comment. All too often institutional evil goes unnoticed especially in rural communities. No one believed me when I told them this school was bad for me, but everyone was completely surprised when I failed in my later education. Meanwhile I have fairly regular nightmares over my experiences there that are sufficiently bad enough to wake me up mid-sleep and I'd be incapable of falling back asleep until 12+ hours later. I probably need therapy for this, but I know I won't be able to get it due to insurance issues.

For the longest time I was pretty much left behind and was severely lacking in education and even my personality took a turn for the worse. Those schools don't help you. They give you contempt for authority and a pessimistic and cynical outlook on many subjects. Some people may say that's how I should act towards a lot of subjects, but this was an ingrained childhood experience that would negatively impact you at a core level. I still don't get how people were legitimately stupid enough to try and goad severely autistic people into writing or speaking when a lot of them were non-verbal. I have the disability yet people in a position of authority who lacked my disability chose this path for us and thought it to be the best way of approaching things.

They thought "coping" was the catch-all solution to fix the behavior of students there, and even the severely autistic people can get openly annoyed by the staff. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I think they look at severely autistic people like animals due to their lack of communication, but I always remember them lashing out without warning if they got upset enough because despite their disability, there's still a person in there. One memory that fails to escape me is a bulky red-headed severely autistic high school man kept having staff be hands-on and violating his personal space which he eventually without warning grabbed the wrist of the staff member nearby and squeezed hard enough to cause pain while bearing teeth and eyes wide open. That's when the aforementioned "security guard" took him out of the room.

When I left high school, I was highly estranged and had a warped worldview. Being a part of internet communities helped me grow up more mature, more intelligent as I had the ability to learn things at my own pace and need, and it changed me from someone who was originally thought to be a lost cause in the education system. Yes, people truly had that level of contempt for me and so very many others. When I went onto chat rooms and participated with other people, I learned how to participate with others and put that experience past me, even if I still have nightmares from it years later. Some of the only people in my childhood who treated me with any sort of kindness was people of the days of Digg, Reddit, IRC, and Discord.

I ended up a better person long-term, even if I was and to an extent still am fucked in life. And there's no amount of thanks I can give to the people who showed me kindness online at the absence of everyone else in-person.


herbivorousanimist t1_j62j1k6 wrote

I’m not surprised you found good people when you finally got the chance to look for them, you come across as an absolute sweetheart.

You seem honest but humble, and vulnerable but strong. Also you come across as very kind yourself.


AutisticAndAce t1_j639922 wrote

Hey, another autistic person who learned social stuff via the internet. I was in the special education program in public school to some extend and honestly just got traumatized. Discord, Minecraft servers and various online fandom communities taught me how to interact with people.


james_bond_junior t1_j6323uf wrote

Have you heard why defining someone as “severely autistic” or “lightly autistic” is not good? I’m autistic, if you’re interested let me know and I can type more about it.


X-the-Komujin t1_j633nyt wrote

It's a spectrum and no single case is alike, but many neurotypicals don't understand the spectrum so I define it as that. The truth is the spectrum isn't a "line of intelligence" rather it is how severely the autism affects a certain person's capabilities.

I have seen those terms used as insults, but I disregard that when speaking in an objective manner.


LizbetCastle t1_j6464y2 wrote

Just by the way you write about others and your own experience, I can see that you’ve done a ton of self work and have a lot of compassion, I’m sorry that it came at the price of what sounds like PTSD. I hope someday you can get the support you would like, because someone with your gifts could make a huge difference in the world.


james_bond_junior t1_j67tj5e wrote

Since the “light” and “severe” adjectives don’t have a medical basis, they are based on how the autistic person makes them feel and hasn’t got to do with what the autistic person is actually going through in that moment or during other parts of their life. Someone could struggle to take basic care of themselves at home and be going through intense anxiety in the moment which will cause a non-verbal shutdown later, but someone they are speaking to could be surprised they are autistic and claim it must be “light autism”. If they interacted with that same person during the shut down, it might be “mild” or “severe”.

Having said that, I can understand how that language could help to get certain ideas across to people who don’t understand autism.


AhabMustDie t1_j64clef wrote

I'm interested — is it the same argument for why the terms "high-functioning" and "low-functioning" shouldn't be used?

What terms do you think are better? Profound autism? High-support vs low-support needs?


james_bond_junior t1_j68vfjv wrote

Yeah exactly, it’s the same thought process behind that. So you would talk about it in terms of some or other specific support need. Someone might not be able to go to the grocery store alone, but if online shopping is available it’s not something that might have an impact on their life and therefore isn’t a support need.


snowbirdie t1_j654uzo wrote

I feel that you should write a book on your experience.


Scrumpy-Steve t1_j629h62 wrote

It's also not just boarding schools either. It's a problem in psychiatric behavioral hospitals as well. I was in and out of them since I had a troubled childhood, and the schools at all except one of them were pretty much three hours of lessons a day. Only one teacher out of all of them ever engaged with us, for the rest it was follow the lesson in the book. Can't figure it out? Tough shit, you fail for the day.


Mean_Bluejay1351 t1_j63txro wrote

Right?!? I had the same experience. A few (2 max) hours with some random worksheets was “school”


mochibunne t1_j6myab4 wrote

I actually just received my medical records from the psychiatric hospital I went to 5 years ago. They completely falsified my statements to extend my stay. The utter cruelty I witnessed and experienced is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. We need psych reform so, so badly.


Scrumpy-Steve t1_j6p0n0r wrote

I found out my psych used an emergency order to block my dad from contacting me and then lied to both my and my mom's face about it. My mother was absolutely adamant that my dad was able to contact his son since he lived on the other side of the Atlantic at the time


DormeDwayne t1_j62jml9 wrote

That sounds horrible.

I’m really interested in your perspective here; how should the education system operate when it comes to special-needs and troubled children on varying ends of the needs continuum? It’s completely obvious that a lot of them function just normally in regular school, but should everyne be included in the same schools? Of not, where is the cut-off line? If some are not enrolled in regular school, what does their school look like? Obviously not like a prison, but what subjects are taught and how, how much stress it put on social aptitude instead etc.


X-the-Komujin t1_j62p5dn wrote

I have 3 main points when it comes to autism. Autism is a spectrum and each case has different severity on the person affected. Light autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder or formerly Asperger's Syndrome), moderate autism, and severe autism. Light autism is what I am. We function differently but we can for the most part be as intelligent if not more than than the average person. People theorize that Albert Einstein was an undiagnosed light autistic person. As for moderate autism, that is when someone can understand basic issues and terms and may be able to utter some brief phrases and do things without assistance, but will need some form of support for the remainder of their life. Severe autism results in a non-verbal and are dysgraphic. These people will need life-long support in the same case as an elderly person with dementia. They cannot do any form of basic self-care and must be cleaned, assisted in the restroom, and hand fed.

Now, I want to be very clear here in that what I just said above is a very broad scope and each diagnosed case of autism is going to be different in various ways. A severely autistic man may be able to feed himself if handed food and have certain other skills, but may have trouble with the other mentioned issues of self-care. Meanwhile someone who is light in autism isn't guaranteed to just be "weird in person". I have epilepsy myself on top of that. Also, neurological conditions frequently overlap in the case of autistic people. I was not the only autistic and epileptic person in that school.

Severely autistic children and men may not ever integrate into society and they should just have a caretaker during their time in school without being disturbed too much outside of some if any activities they may be able to derive enjoyment from. I'm talking about non-verbal people who cannot communicate through text. I mentioned in another comment that the severely autistic children were frequently given assignments to try and teach them even kindergarten level speech/writing but it never amounted to anything for anyone there and frequently resulted in even the severely autistic children getting upset, then getting taken out and they are unlikely to understand what they did wrong when the staff were the major aggressors in almost all scenarios.

You do not see severely autistic people in school often because they are frequently sent to schools like my own and kept there until I presume they "graduate". It's not uncommon for them to be sent as early as first grade or even kindergarten if they are completely incapable of doing assignments. They are more common than you think and you can easily populate 1-2 classrooms per school district with varying degrees of autistic school children. Some of them get sent away but you're basically guaranteed to not participate in a regular school with severe autism.

Moderately autistic people are frequently there for a majority of their years, but may be able to pass kindergarten and first grade with some enhanced difficulty. They are like severely autistic people but are more capable with basic functions and aren't necessarily non-verbal or dysgraphic. However it's always going to be an uphill battle trying to teach them anything complex or having them deal with complicated scenarios. It is likely in most areas you do not see anyone moderately autistic as they do not tend to last long and while they don't stand out nearly as much as severe autism, they do still stand out a fair amount and they will struggle to keep pace with the other children and failing very early elementary classes is a quick ticket to a school like the one I mentioned.

Finally, people like me go to these schools only if we have developmental or behavioral trouble or the parents recommend it. Many high-functioning autistic children had difficult times in school either not understanding right from wrong or being influenced by someone bad. I had issues with fatigue to my epilepsy and sleep schedules, and I inadvertently fell asleep in class once which caused the principal to appear in person and physically pull me out of my chair which I had responded violently. That ended up getting me put in the charting school after a discussion with him and my mother. I entered the boarding school not knowing what I did wrong since a stranger was physically pulling me without warning in the primary school system. Keep in mind, I was not familiar with the principal as I had just entered middle school (I was only there for a few months). So some man came in from nowhere and started dragging me out of my classroom, and I didn't know how to properly act. My mother put me in the boarding school not knowing how bad the environment was and I began to hate school and I never felt like I had anyone to look up upon as my older neurotypical brother frequently injured me for being "stupid" (he has a much more mellow personality in adulthood and felt remorse for his actions some 15+ years later knowing my autism diagnosis) so I often looked to entertainment media (aka violence in a lot of it) to try and understand how people acted.

Only when my mother got internet for my brother did I learn exactly how other people acted, since during school I did not particularly relate to adults or other students that well, but people on the internet treated me like an equal without regard to my disability. It was only with social media that I grew as a person and learned I wasn't a failure or beyond hope. I just got into the internet far too late as rural america lacked internet for far longer than people in suburban and urban communities. Schools did not let you use the internet as far as I remember as it served no purpose for education.

One final parting note is that I believe that autism in general is horribly misunderstood. I said severe autistic people are looked upon like animals in the other comment, but that's only the base of it. Autism is misunderstood and so many false stereotypes exist about people like us. One popular example is that people like me are inherently shy because we don't look people in the eyes. This is one of the bigger stereotypes peddled. Autistic people can be shy, but we aren't inherently afraid of neurotypicals just because we don't look you in the eyes. And I can be quite mean if I feel someone is coddling me for that or treating me any less than the person I am due to these stereotypes.

I hope this answers in depth all of your questions. I believe that severe and moderate autistic people should get the support they need without being haggled by staff in these boarding schools, and I also believe that whatever approach that these staff are currently using are ineffective and result in worsened behavior or traumatic memories that negatively effect high functioning autistic children.


DormeDwayne t1_j62sua6 wrote

Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and well-substantiated response. I’ve profitted from it a lot. I am not a total ignorant, I’m a teacher who is teaching and has taught lightly autistic people before (high school atm, middle school and primary school in the past). I am also not American, but rather European and had an autistic classmate in primary and middle school. That was before this diagnosis was available here so nobody knew he was actually autistic until years later, we just knew he was different and had soecial needs the school did its best to accomodate.

It is a topic therefore, which I must and want to understand well from all sides, not just from the point of view of a teacher, but also an ex-classmate, and mother to neurotypical kids who might have an autistic classmate, friend or partner in the future.

Again, thank you very much.


X-the-Komujin t1_j62yita wrote

I appreciate your genuine interest in this subject. For many autistic people, I think they understand they aren't like the others, and I believe this even applies to severe autism. So to an extent they understand people treating them as such. Most autistic people aren't bothered by good faith people like you. It's the supremely ignorant and improperly trained that cause autistic people across the spectrum to react negatively. Severe autism requires you to inherently respect the person involved. Light autism requires you to treat them as regular of a person as you can without embarrassing them or otherwise being belittling of them. People like me may need assistance from time to time but you should always treat us like another student if we can perform at nearly the same level as them.

Charter schools are a problem because their approach to things as well as their staff training are poor and inadequate in many cases. Combine that with many new young teachers having a poor approach to this on both sides (charter and regular school) that it is fairly frequently a problem. My voice is deeper than average and I don't look people in the eye, but far too many people make the mistake of treating me like I'm a demented elderly person.

I grew a beard and mustache for the purpose of avoiding those issues as people are far less likely to act like this towards a burly tall man like myself. Children don't have that option, obviously, and get treated with prejudice, either intentionally or otherwise. But this is more a problem for lighter autistic people like myself. Sometimes telling someone like me from someone who genuinely needs more direct intervention on a lot of topics is going to be hard.

I think autistic children should be respected and those who are like me should be properly guided in being a good person and having any negative influences not only removed, but explained in depth. For me, seeing people tell me to cope with stuff while having a condescending attitude reduced my respect for them, but so did people who went over the line and treated me like less than them, indirectly or otherwise. Bad people act in the former way while well-intentioned people act the latter.


Pure-Kaleidoscope759 t1_j62xufx wrote

I’m sorry you went through this also. The abuses in the “Christian” reform schools like Lester Roloff’s schools, Ron Williams’s Hephzibah House and Escuela Caribe are also bad. Julia Scheeres wrote a rather scathing memoir of her experience at Escuela Caribe in her book “Jesus Land.”


X-the-Komujin t1_j6303qy wrote

They aren't much different in practice, some are religious and others are not. They keep kids "in line" and try to guide them through dubious means, but it never ends up working as expected and this is assuming it's all genuinely trying to be helpful. Sometimes it's just to get kids out of primary school or even for money as mentioned.


Pure-Kaleidoscope759 t1_j630f4y wrote

Good point. I’m the case of religious schools, kids can be placed there for the pettiest of reasons, and also to conceal sexual abuse within families.


tiptoeintotown t1_j63vlg4 wrote

I’m autistic too and was sent away to many places growing up.

I wasn’t a bad kid. I was a curious kid with absent parents, thus I had to be the problem.

I grew up in New York and they have quite the insidious little “cottage” industry there too. Even judges admitted to taking bribes to needlessly send children away years after the fact.

I learned early on the importance of reading a room. It was my best survival skill back then. This meant I knew to keep my mouth shut, be polite and never do anything that isn’t told to me. I learned to just follow instructions and I made it through many years completely unscathed. No one ever put their hands on me, not even once and I was generally a staff favorite. Staff brought me books and cassette tapes and spent time educating me on what they had given me. One man taught me about Led Zeppelin, another, Walt Whitman but this wasn’t the case for the other kids. Not even close. Had I made a dollar for every kid a saw body slammed and pinned down by 4 grown adults, many like the men you describe, while they scream and howl, I could have bought us all a lawyer to get us out of there.

My “education” was like yours. I was the most intelligent out of all the group so naturally, I was the one who was going to slip through the cracks. Most courses were completed by handing me a cliffs note book and a 20 year old textbook and the rest was up to me. It was rote memorization and only that. Nothing absorbed, nothing actually learned. I flew through state administered regents exams like a pro but then struggled when I was back in regular school because it turns out you actually have to go to class, pay attention, engage and do the work in a real classroom and I was never taught that. I was always told I was the smartest in the room but I wasn’t.

I’m so sorry you had to go through this.


caseyyp t1_j6388it wrote

I'm in my masters for SPED right now and this is so archaic. It's pre70s line of thinking which is "we have to protect the normal ones from distraction"


si12345 t1_j61fpyd wrote

I know several people who work at and others who went to DRA, and in Utah there are plenty of these fucked up places in Utah


Resfebermpls t1_j62hhcg wrote

There’s a podcast that focuses specifically on these places in Utah because of how prevalent they are there. I think it’s called Sent Away.


Pure-Kaleidoscope759 t1_j62xzsi wrote

These facilities often seek states with minimal or no regulation so they can get away with abuse.


tiptoeintotown t1_j63vcc1 wrote

Do you remember a show on TV, wanna say Fox, where a group of very young children was dropped off in the Utah wilderness and they had to build a village, more or less, Lord of the Flies style? It was in the mid 2000s.


ImpossibleTax t1_j64106m wrote

CBS Kid Nation? I think it was New Mexico.


tiptoeintotown t1_j645od6 wrote

Yes!!!! Thank you!

That show was absolutely wild. I was in shock watching it back then.


IDWBAForever t1_j6472vz wrote

JonTron did a video about the show, and not only that, he managed to track down one of the kids who was on the show at the time for an interview. You should definitely check out both videos if you're interested in Kid Nation.


tiptoeintotown t1_j64i8l1 wrote

I remember that little guy saying “I think I’m gonna die out here”. I hope it’s him.


darthjoey91 t1_j64ku40 wrote

That was Kid Nation, and it was comparatively much better than "troubled teen camps".

And that was at the Bonanza Film Ranch in New Mexico. Same place Alec Baldwin killed that woman.


The_Barnanator t1_j645h1v wrote

Kid Nation on CBS. It was in the town of Bonanza, New Mexico. Show actually got cancelled because it was clear they were breaking even the lax child labor laws of New Mexico


mdmd33 t1_j65hqlm wrote

I spent a week in Utah for work…never fucking again..


radicalelation t1_j6584kk wrote

My time in a couple of those places were shitty at points, but the stories from kids who transferred from worse facilities than mine were always horrifying.


SisterBob t1_j620uy8 wrote

Ugh I recently read the saga of a kid who survived the Elan school. That shit is insane.


rabidstoat t1_j62c5jf wrote

/r/troubledteens is actually a sub that is against those sorts of places.


caseyyp t1_j6383bo wrote

Emotionally disturbed kids are so complex. They will lie and manipulate you interspersed with being vulnerable. It takes a lot of reflection, awareness, and compassion to work with them. Many people burn out fast and then we're left with crummy people like this. ED students at my work was intimate with a boy didn't use a condom like they agreed andbwho then ditched her quick. She was assaulted and devestated. Her main teacher said she was playing us but it was absolutely not the case. It made me so angry to see her brushed off like that.


LizbetCastle t1_j646mfq wrote

Kids who learn to manipulate like that have usually learned it as a survival skill, sadly. There are exceptions, but the majority of them are wounded.


drifting_signal t1_j65rtow wrote does this help people?

> they have a level called Unemployment which is used as punishment. Being “unemployed” means being forced to drag or pull a cart around the property from 5am in the morning to 10pm in the evening. Even their meals must be eaten outside so they do not abandon the cart. Residents could be placed on Unemployment for breaking any number of rules, including destruction of ranch property, being more than 15 feet from staff, stealing food, talking to the other gender, or swearing. > > Another punishment used by DRA is “RFI”. During this punishment, the teen is forbidden from speaking to anybody- even staff. They are also made to do extreme phsyical exercises and are only given cold food to eat. Although RFI sometimes only lasts for a few days, some teens report being put on RFI for multiple months.


Juhbellz t1_j6gj01k wrote

Last pod just did a 3 part series on them. Shits fuckd yo