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When Today's Conveniences Pose a Distraction During Residential Placement

by Dore Frances, M.A., founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLC
At the same time that residential treatment facilities are becoming more technologically sophisticated, many directors of these programs remain hesitant to loosen rules that generally restrict student's access to technology while they are receiving services. Access to computers is often carefully granted or not allowed at all, largely over concerns that students will become distracted from their recovery work through this connection to the outside world. Access to technology is offered under controlled and rare circumstances in most residential treatment centers.

In residential treatment the facilities restrictions to certain books, computers, television and even wireless technology to a great degree comes as a shock to some students entering treatment. For young adults it is at times used as an excuse not to enter treatment or not to stay in treatment.

The idea is to have students be free of stimuli from the outside world. This is rarely an issue after four to ten days of a students entering their program. The conflicts and questions that might come up about access to technology as the start of treatment sometimes reflect the students lack of knowledge about what to expect in treatment and what the process is about. On the adult treatment side, there is some flexibility for clients who own a business and a work situation might necessitate occasional use of e-mail.

An impending court date might also require that a client maintain contact with someone on the outside.

In all such situations, the use of technology is still very carefully monitored.

During my recent research for the book - One Size Does Not Fit All - Who Knew! - I spoke to all different kinds of residential facilities around the country, both adolescent and young adult facilities, about their access to technology. It really varies from one end of the spectrum to the other.

It really is agreed upon and individualized by those involved in the situation. In some facilities computer work stations are made available based on individual need.

What is important is that parties remain mindful of the importance of the person in treatment. The primary focus is on the work at hand.

The question of access to technology constitutes a reasonable discussion among treatment providers.

You need to be comfortable with your decision and have a clear explanation.

Dore Frances, M.A., is an educational consultant, childs right advocate, parent coach, specializing in working with troubled teens and their families in the United States, Canda, and abroad. See her site at: or contact her by phone at:(541) 312-4422, or email
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Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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