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Options for At-Risk Teens

Stopping the downward spiral.

In today’s world, with its array of distractions and temptations, it is all too common for adolescents to make choices that are inappropriate and undermine their ability to succeed in the future. Just as common are adolescents who do the minimum to get by, never even testing—let alone achieving—their potential. Some adolescents may drift far from the values and the perspectives their parents have worked hard to instill. Others act out in ways that endanger themselves as well as those around them. When a young person is stuck in a downward spiral, one solution may be a radical change in the current educational and social environment.

From a parent…

Quite frankly, we thought we had lost Eric. That is, we felt that our relationship to him as parents was forever jeopardized. But the wilderness program and then X School turned his life around. We still have a ways to go, but feel confident that he’ll make better decisions in the future—and that we’ll have a loving relationship with him

Students who are at risk require a school or therapeutic community capable of providing specific academic, social, and behavioral guidance and effecting real change in adolescents. Such “special needs” programs not only focus on meeting educational and emotional needs but also take a broader view that academics and social progress can be made only if the young person’s other needs—emotional growth, character development, personal reflection—are met.

More than 100 schools and programs serve at-risk teenagers, and the options and choices can be overwhelming, especially for families in turmoil. Should the adolescent leave home for a more controlled environment? Does the teenager require emotional or behavioral support? Can the academic environment provide both remedial and advanced coursework? Dr. Antonoff has visited a wide range of schools and has carefully researched the varied and specialized programs that can help adolescents get back on track. He provides a valuable resource to help families sort through different options and find one that can work for their teen.


At-Risk Teen Consulting

What is it? At-Risk Teen Consulting provides recommendations for special programs to help adolescents struggling with complex issues related to school, peers, substance abuse, and behavioral problems. The consultation is done on a comprehensive package basis in which the family pays a flat fee that covers the many steps involved in the process.

Dr. Antonoff uses a multidimensional approach to assess the teenager’s needs and then identify the most appropriate setting to meet those needs. Although the preferred process includes both the teen and family, accommodations can be made when the teen does not attend the consultation.

Who is it for? At-Risk Teen Consulting is designed for adolescents whose bad choices are undermining their futures and for families who need assistance in finding alternatives to the current situation.

Dr. Antonoff currently does not accept clients whose needs for placement are urgent or whose unacceptable behaviors require a change within a matter of days, but he will gladly provide referrals to other consultants or resources.

What issues are addressed? Although the consultation may vary according to the individual needs of the adolescent and family, the following are basic elements:

  • discussion of the current situation and the history behind it
  • review of educational background, transcripts, test scores, psychological data, and other materials related to educational planning
  • identification of factors pertinent to selecting the right school or program for the teen
  • identification and discussion of educational options both during the “special needs” program and beyond
  • discussion of such considerations as cost, applications, and visiting
  • assistance in making a final choice among program options
  • guidance for the adolescent’s reintegration into the family and social environment following attendance at a “special needs” school

From a parent…

Thank you very, very much. I appreciate not only your locating a program for Jen but the fact that we know that you really do care what happens to her and were willing to devote so much of your time on her behalf.