Talisman's Southeast Journeys for Teens with Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism Gearing Up for Spring Semester

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Academic program specializes in educating and improving the social skills of teens.

I cannot endorse a program more highly than I do the Southeast Journeys academic semester at Talisman for Teens with Asperger's. I recommend it not only as a parent, but also as a professional who really knows through education and through personal experience.

Southeast Journeys, an experiential academic alternative for adolescents ages 13 - 17 with Asperger's Syndrome, high-functioning Autism, and similar Autism Spectrum disorders, is gearing up for the Spring semester. The program focuses on improving social awareness and interaction, independence, and academic self-motivation and is currently accepting enrollment.

Based out of the Zirconia, North Carolina campus, the small learning group plans and prepares for one- to two-week trips that immerse them in multi-sensory lessons in natural and cultural history, geography, and scientific exploration. On and off campus, students practice independent living skills and group dynamics, and engage in focused social skills groups.

"The semester is a journey that enables students who may have struggled in more traditional environments to seek their full potential for life success," says Brandon Raab, a certified English and science teacher at Southeast Journeys.

The students day hike and backpack, paddle in tandem canoes, and rock climb. Their learning trips include a week-long exploration of the Savannah and Augusta, Georgia areas and a two-week full-school expedition to the Florida Keys to study marine biology and local cultural history. Along with learning, they snorkel, swim, and paddle in the area.

Around campus, they are involved in a weekly service project with the Humane Society. They also visit local natural areas (Pisgah Wildlife Center, Dupont State Forest, WNC Nature Center), and take part in various cultural events in town.

Many of the teens who attend Southeast Journeys have learning differences, social anxiety, and other issues that make traditional schools a difficult environment for them. The focused attention these students get at Southeast Journeys helps them develop skills that will improve not only their academic performance, but their social interactions.

"Last year this time, I was desperate...[my son] was so anxious both socially and academically that he would tantrum or go off in a rage at the drop of a hat. He had very few friends. While he was above average in intelligence, he was so frustrated by his limited skill level. He refused to do any academics unless he was working with a teacher/tutor one on one. I couldn't imagine that he would ever be able to hold a job," said one mother of a Southeast Journeys student.

"At Talisman, he gets 24-hour feedback that has really shaped his social skills beautifully. He has lovely conversations with people. His academics have improved tremendously. Since he's been home this past week, he hasn't had any tantrums. But, more than that, he's been a pleasure to be with. He has become a delightful young person to be around. Friends and family are shocked at the changes," she reports.

Social skills are a foundation of life and integral to the core foundation for personal growth at Southeast Journeys. The approach to developing social skills is highly personalized, beginning with individual assessments of a student's current level of strengths and challenges. Students learn from modeling, practice and consistent feedback from peers and staff using both structured social skills classes and insight-oriented group discussions that occur anytime a learning moment arises.

"The staff at Southeast Journeys at Talisman is unique. They understand and tune into the teen's problems. Not only do they teach the kids using non-traditional 'hands on' techniques, but they also truly understand how to deal with the social and developmental issues. They treat the 'whole' person," writes psychiatrist Denise Perone, M.D., whose daughter attended Southeast Journeys. "I cannot endorse a program more highly than I do the Southeast Journeys academic semester at Talisman for Teens with Asperger's. I recommend it not only as a parent, but also as a professional who really knows through education and through personal experience."

Southeast Journeys is part of Talisman Camps & Programs, which also offer summer programs for children, teens, and young adults with learning differences, Asperger's Syndrome, and high-functioning Autism. Talisman is part of Aspen Education Group, a network of over 30 programs in 13 states that provide enlightened, innovative approaches to help young people struggling with learning differences, behavioral challenges, or emotional issues. Aspen's programs have been profiled by major news and television organizations, including: CNN, National Public Radio, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, ABC's "Good Morning America" and the syndicated TV program "Dr. Phil." For over two decades, Aspen Education Group has been achieving successful outcomes for families through its boarding schools, wilderness therapy programs, summer camps, and residential treatment centers. Aspen Education Group is a division of CRC Health Group.

If you would like more information about Southeast Journeys at Talisman please call 888.458.8226 or visit http://www.talismancamps.com/southeast_journey.

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