Intellectual Disability Treatment

Here at Desert Hills we understand that when a child or adolescents has been diagnosed with intellectual disability, they need the services of a treatment program that is going to address the unique needs of this population, especially if emotional or behavioral disturbances are present. This is why we are so dedicated to providing young persons and their family with a wide variety of specialized treatment options, so that we are able treat a multitude of mental health disorders, while also addressing intellectual disability concerns. Intellectual disability is characterized by limitations in mental abilities as well as problems performing certain functions and activities faced on a daily basis. More specifically, children and adolescents with intellectual difficulties may have problems effectively communicating, need help taking care of themselves, and are not able to fully participating in certain social activities.

Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Desert Hills provides a continuum of behavioral health services ranging from sub-acute residential treatment to community based programs for children, adolescents, and their families. Since opening in 1990, Desert Hills has grown from a small residential program to the largest continuum of behavioral health services for the state of New Mexico, with three different locations where individuals can access services. In order to ensure we provide the highest quality of care possible while meeting all of our patients unique needs, we provide ongoing training and supervision of all staff members, making sure they are up-to-date on the latest evidence-based treatment modalities. At Desert Hills we have a specific unit that specializes in the care, treatment, and supervision of young individuals with intellectual disabilities or developmental delays, who also suffer severe emotional and behavioral disturbances. Involvement in such a specialized treatment program will provide your child the skill set to meet certain challenges in life and the therapeutic interventions needed for the treatment of emotional difficulties. Just because your child has an intellectual disability does not mean that they cannot lead a full, happy life.

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Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment

As a parent or caregiver, it can be very difficult and at times emotionally draining raising a child who has an intellectual disability. Each day brings new challenges and while you may be adapting to your child’s specialized needs you may at times feel lost. However, the bottom line is that you love your child and you want the very best for them. Below is a list of a few things you can do that may be beneficial for your child:

  • Have continual open communication with your child’s teachers, therapist, and anyone else that may be involved in your child’s life so that you will be able to incorporate specific tasks or activities into life at home.
  • Help your child learn to develop as many functional skills as possible. Such skills may include dressing themselves, feeding themselves, and being able to use the restroom.
  • Encourage your child to be independent by assigning them chores that they can do around the house.
  • Make sure to provide your child with feedback on a regular basis. This includes giving them praise when they have done something well.
  • Above all, do not be ashamed of your child.

Why Consider Treatment at Desert Hills

Young persons with intellectual disabilities are often aware that they are behind others their own age, which may cause some to become extremely frustrated, withdrawn, or anxious. While others my act out in inappropriate ways to get the attention of others. In addition to the challenges associated with this disorder, young persons with intellectual disability often face a number of emotional and behavioral disorders. For example, some children and adolescents with intellectual disability may develop depression, but due to their lack of language skills are unable to talk about their emotions, causing the depression to manifest into behavior problems. Without proper support children and adolescents with intellectual disability will not be provided with the opportunity they deserve to reach their full potential in life.

Through specialized treatment, such as a residential treatment program, children and adolescents with intellectually disabilities are able to learn the skills needed to stay at home with the family and be able to fully take part in community life. Not only can a residential program help a child with intellectual disability learn to more appropriately cope with their disorder, but it can simultaneously treat the symptoms of an additional mental health disorder. Furthermore, residential programs provide specialized treatment services that will promote the development of a young person, but also their education, and personal interests. Additionally, family consultations provided in residential programs can help the family learn how to set appropriate expectations and limits, which can help their child learn to cope with the stress of growing up.

Program Philosophy and Benefits

At Desert Hills, we believe that treatment should be strengths-based and should be centered solely on clients and their families. We train, facility wide, on the Nurtured Heart Approach in order to provide all of our clients and their families with inner wealth and opportunities to grow. It is our mission to provide high quality, comprehensive behavior and mental health services to children, adolescents, and their families. Treatment is provided through a continuum of care, ranging from sub-acute residential treatment to community-based programs. All of our services are individualized, culturally sensitive, and centered on clients and their parents and guardians. Additionally, the clinical emphasis is placed on assessment, treatment planning, discharge, and aftercare planning. It is our overall goal to prepare clients for a successful future at home, at school, and within the community.

Types of Treatment Offered at Desert Hills

Here at Desert Hills, we have 10 distinct units, each of which feature programming that is designed specifically to address the needs of various populations. Adolescents in our substance abuse focused treatment unit will follow the matrix model, which is designed to provide patients with a framework for engaging in treatment and helping them to obtain sobriety. Desert Hills strives to use evidence-based treatment modalities on every unit to ensure that patients and their families have the highest likelihood of obtaining long-term, successful outcomes. Some of the therapeutic services offered at Desert Hills are discussed in further detail below:

Medication management: At Desert Hills medication management is provided for each and every one of our patients throughout each one of our treatment programs. This is done to ensure that each patient is getting all of his or her medication needs taken care of, while also ensuring the therapeutic effectiveness of all medications.

Individual therapy: On each unit, patients are provided at least one individual session per week. These sessions are time where patients can meet with a therapist in a safe setting where they can work on changing harmful or negative thought patterns and begin to change high-risk behaviors.

Group therapy: Here at Desert Hills, all of our patients attend group therapy three times per week. These group sessions offer children and adolescents the opportunity to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Some of the topics that are covered in these groups, depending on the specific program a patient is taking part in, include interpersonal effectiveness, conflict resolution, anger management, stress management, and correcting and replacing thinking errors. For those patients in our intellectual disability/developmentally delayed unit, group sessions may focus more on behavior management and development of social skills.

Family therapy: Since family involvement is important to the overall success of recovery, we hold at least one family therapy session per week for each patient. Family therapy focuses on guiding and facilitating an open dialogue, as well as educating parents, caregivers, and other family members on the intervention skills used in treatment. This process will help ensure the patient’s success long after discharge.

Educational services: Continued education while at Desert Hills is a very important part of the treatment program. Our school provides patients with a positive, safe, and individualized place to learn and grow. All teachers communicate weekly with the treatment team, assuring consistency in the individual goals set for each student.

Additional services that are available depending upon specific patient needs include:

  • Services for deaf and hard of hearing patients (administered by deaf therapists and other mental health technicians that are trained in American Sign Language)
  • Canine therapy
  • Music therapy
  • High and low ropes courses
  • Recreation
  • Art therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Equine assisted therapy
  • Bilingual mobile assessments
  • Peer council
  • Red rocks
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment

Upon discharge from our residential program, all patients have the opportunity to step down to one of our many outpatient care options, which include the following:

Clinical day treatment program: This program allows patients to live at home, while also addressing any behavioral or academic issues they may have. These services are provided on a year round basis for children and adolescents who are middle school through high school aged. There are both regular and special education services available, allowing students to earn summer credits and catch up if they have fallen behind academically. Additional services include group therapy and a variety of experiential therapies.

Group homes: Designed to provide patients who are between the ages of 16 and 21 who are in need of a structured home-based living situation, our group home services are available to provide services that are focused on psychosocial skills development and functioning in the community.

Treatment foster care:  This program is licensed and certified by the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department to license, train, and support treatment foster parents and treat children between the ages of 4 and 18 who are placed in their homes. TCF provides around-the-clock clinical supervisions, on-call therapy, and case management services.

No matter what your child’s continued needs may be, the staff at Desert Hills will be there to help them transition to the next phase of treatment.

get confidential help now: 505.715.6808 Email Us