Acute Residential Care: What You Need To Know (feat. Dr. Brandon Clark) S5E43

Today’s episode is based on a listener request, and it’s all about acute residential care. My guest is Dr. Brandon Clark. Brandon is the clinical director at Springbrook Autism Behavioral Health and is here to answer parent questions about acute residential care.

Guest Bio:

Brandon Clark, PsyD is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and the clinical director at Springbrook Autism Behavioral Health. He has a doctorate degree in psychology with an emphasis on industrial/organizational theory. Brandon enjoys implementing behavior strategies to improve system-based processes and make organizational advancements.

Dr. Brandon Clark began his career in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis in 2010. Since then, he has worked in treatment schools, private settings, crisis intervention settings, and day program facilities, and owned a private practice for several years.

For more information, click here

Host Bio:

Rob Gorski is a single Dad to three amazing autistic boys and Found and CEO of The Autism Dad, LLC. Multiple award-winning blogger, podcaster, content creator, digital marketer, social media influencer, and respected public figure for well over a decade.

Connect with Rob Gorski:

Mentioned in this episode:

Learn More About Bened Life

Bened Life supports a neuroinclusive community with education and science-backed probiotics that promote mental and physical health. Bened Life prides itself on hiring neurodivergent staff that helps to run multiple facets of its business. Their medical probiotic, Neuralli, featuring the probiotic PS128, has already helped thousands of neurotypical and neurodivergent people worldwide. Learn more by going to Use the code “theautismdad” at checkout for 20% off your first order.

Visit Bened Life

[00:00:00] Rob Gorski: Welcome to The Autism Dad Podcast, where we talk about all things related to autism, parenting and adhd, and self care and mental health, and being a mom and being a dad, and all those things that are important and relevant in your life that maybe we don’t talk about enough. So do that here on the show.

[00:00:14] I really appreciate you guys taking the time to tune in, and I’ve got a really interesting show for you guys today. So today we’re gonna talk about acute residential care, and it’s a topic that a few of you have been reaching. To me over the last couple of months and requesting that I, that I talk about, and I, I want to take this on in a way that is beneficial to everyone.

[00:00:37] So I thought the best option would be to bring on somebody who is an expert. And so Dr. Brandon Clark is here. He’s from Springbrook Autism Behavioral Health. And if you recall, I spent some time, uh, at the facility in South Carolina earlier this year, and I got to tour it. I got to meet, uh, the staff and some of the residents and get a better understanding of what goes on when a child needs this type of acute residential care. This is not meant to be a depressing topic. It’s not meant to be controversial. It’s just meant to provide you with information and help you better navigate the emotions and, and everything else that goes into making this type of decision should you have that on your plate.

[00:01:17] So, uh, thank you Dr. Clark for taking the time to come on the show. I really appreciate it. Would you take a moment, just tell us a little bit about who you. And what you do. Sure.

[00:01:28] Brandon Clark: And thank you for having me. Uh, my name is Brandon Clark. I usually go by Dr. B around the hospital at Springbrook, but, uh, Brandon is just fine.

[00:01:38] I am the clinical director at Springbrook Behavior Hospital, and I also am a board certified behavior analyst. So I’m, I act as a bit of a hybrid. Right now in terms of being both a practitioner and someone who’s in management, administration, uh, within the Springbrook system, so, Have a a, a few roles that I, that I have to fulfill at Springbrook.

[00:02:06] And so that all keeps me pretty busy, but I’m happy to take a break from that actually and get to, to chat with you. Switch my day up a little bit.

[00:02:14] Rob Gorski: Cool. Well, I appreciate it. And, and we met previously at the, at the conference earlier this year and uh, and that was my first real experience with any type of residential treatment facility and.

[00:02:30] It was, it was a really profound experience for me because, uh, it kinda hit really close to home with my oldest who had really extreme behavioral issues. And we were at one point looking for, uh, we, we were told to look at residential care. We couldn’t find anything in our area, so it never happened for us.

[00:02:47] But there are lots of parents out there listening who are grappling with that same, that same situation, and it’s very, very difficult to understand what that feels like. And there are, there’s these emotional, even if you have a place that you can send your kid and it’s, and it’s amazing and it’s funded and like everything that goes right there is still an emotional hurdle that you have to overcome in order to to, to kind of make that move.

[00:03:18] And I was wondering, first of all, can we, can we talk a little bit about what types of behavioral situations or what types of home situations. You typically run into when it comes to kids that need this type of acute, uh, residential care.

[00:03:37] Brandon Clark: What, what we’re typically seeing are kids who have failed in other programs and or other modes of service.

[00:03:46] So when I say failed, it means that they’ve. Been exposed to repeated suspensions from school, or they’ve had an outpatient provider, whether that’s applied behavior analysis therapy or traditional family therapy or occupational therapy or speech. We have all these other interventions that have been tried and they haven’t been successful or they’ve been minimally successful, and the the problem behaviors are still there.

[00:04:19] And so what we’re really talking about is a child who’s in crisis. So what does a crisis typically look like? In my experience can say that a, a family in crisis means that we can’t leave the house. Families feel like they can’t live a normal day to day life. And, um, even, you know, getting around the house is to perform basic daily functioning skills of I can’t get my kid to brush their teeth or they won’t get dressed.

[00:04:53] Everything is a meltdown and I’ll go so far as to say that other kids in the house are possibly at risk of getting injured. Parents are at risk of getting injured or the child in question is at risk of, of getting injured due to maybe self injury or being, um, drawn to certain behaviors that are dangerous.

[00:05:16] Mm-hmm. , um, running away from home, running out into the street, running towards bodies of water. Uh, really just if you think in terms of, of what is worst case scenario, what we typically see at Springbrook. Those worst case scenarios are playing out on a weekly, if not a daily basis for a lot of the families.

[00:05:40] Rob Gorski: Years ago when, when my son was having, was in crisis, right? What I can relate to was the feeling of, of being so overwhelmed. And we had every, every therapist and doctor and specialist that we worked with were like, You need to look at, you need to be open to some kind of residential, you know, even acute just treatment facility that can help manage, uh, get medications back on track and make sure he’s on the right meds.

[00:06:07] And, you know, there were a lot of short stents at Akron Children’s Hospital for 72 hours or something like that, but nothing long term and. For me personally, I, I felt like I was giving up on him if I made the decision to send him away and like, you don’t give up on your kids. It’s such a difficult thing to navigate emotionally for a parent, what advice do you have for parents who are going through that inner conflict?

[00:06:36] A about sending one of their kids away for.

[00:06:40] Brandon Clark: When I talk to parents that are hesitant about making that move, understandably so, it’s, it’s important for for them to hear that this is a time for you to recover as well. So the, you know, your, your child’s going to get the treatment and we’re gonna do the best we can, but also you need to take a mental break and.

[00:07:04] Recharge and take a little bit of time when a child comes home that you now have been. You’ve given yourself the duration of time where you can do all the things that you need to do to prepare. We can talk about rearranging the environment in your house. If that’s something that you’ve been trying to do, we can talk about.

[00:07:25] You know, you’ve had this amount of time where you can come up with those interventions and use those visual schedules that we like to use with kids on the spectrum, and all of those pieces can come into play and it’s a, it’s a chance to hit the reset button. And so I think we need to empower parents to, to, like I said, change the language around that and, and reframe it to where it, it is a healthy decision.

[00:07:52] Rob Gorski: The ultimate goal is, is, is to keep the family together. And, and I think it’s worth mentioning too that, you know, not only is this beneficial for the child in question, but it also is an opportunity for parents to gain the tools that they need to better manage the situation when their child comes home.

[00:08:08] And I think you kind of alluded to that, so, So what types of things are parents doing when their kids are in your.

[00:08:18] Brandon Clark: Well, we encourage participation and so we have those opportunities for families to participate in the in, in the care. So a couple of modalities that we use are family therapy on a weekly basis because we end up treating kids that are pretty well distributed across the country.

[00:08:39] That’s not realistic for families to be present in person, but we use online technology, so we have that at our disposal to go through some of those, uh, family therapy treatment sessions. And the most important piece is making sure that families are participating and we’re getting them the training and education that they, that they need and.

[00:09:04] A lot of times, like, like you said, it’s just that reset. It’s, it’s, it, it, there’s times where it’s like, okay, I know that you know this information, but because like you mentioned earlier, you’re thinking emotionally that information wasn’t given a fair opportunity to, to sink in. And after parents have had some rest and they feel a little bit more energetic and they feel like they’re in a healthier mindset.

[00:09:33] Sometimes they go, Oh yeah, this is actually, I know this, I know that I can do this. I just couldn’t do it under the circumstances because I, I wasn’t emotionally ready and a lot of times we, we turn a corner and, you know, we get a chance to, to get it right the next time.

[00:09:50] Rob Gorski: What does an average day look like for a kid that is staying at Springbrook?

[00:09:55] Brandon Clark: That’s a good question. So if you’re listening to this, you’re probably well aware. Um, individuals who have autism, they, they prefer routine , so we set up a routine for them that’s pretty consistent. On a day to day basis, we have a interdisciplinary team and that is comprised of speech therapists and behavior analysts, and occupational therapists and recreational therapists and social workers and mental health counselors. And so what, what a typical day looks like is a highly structured group setting and kids wake up, we practice our hygiene. We go to breakfast in the cafeteria, and there’s some built in transitioning skills that that often need to be practiced there.

[00:10:49] And then we transition back to the appropriate part of the hospital, and we start an occupational therapy group. We have about a 15, 20 minute break, and then they go into, uh, speech therapy group, and then they go into education, which I, I forgot to mention, we have a education department as well. So their day is set up to where it’s structured for about six to to eight hours each day.

[00:11:15] And there’s little breaks in between. We try to make sure they get a lot of movement activity as well. But for the, for the most part, we want them to feel like they know what’s coming

[00:11:27] Rob Gorski: What is the average stay for a child who comes through your program.

[00:11:36] Brandon Clark: On the residential side, you’re, you’re probably looking at somewhere between, uh, three to six months.

[00:11:43] There might be a little variability in there, but. And on our acute unit, the, the program is, is really set up to be a very aggressive assessment and stabilization program. Kind of like I I alluded to earlier. And so that that program lasts about 30 days.

[00:12:04] Rob Gorski: What is the best way for people to find out more information about Springbrook?

[00:12:11] Cause, Cause you’re actually one of the few facilities in the country I think. We are,

[00:12:15] Brandon Clark: We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary. Uh, the best way to, to hear about us or learn about us is just jump on the website, but I think that I’d also be. Be open to, to having visitors calling or, or coming in.

[00:12:31] We’ve, we take in, um, we take appointments a lot of, you know, with interested parents who just, can I take a look at your program? Can I see the facility? And, um, that’s, that’s a good way for them to get comfortable in that type of setting as well.

[00:12:47] Rob Gorski: You know, one of the things that I wanna say before we just kind of close this out today is that, uh, I actually toured the facility and I, I walked around and we got to, I, I got to sort of experience what these kids experience and I was not prepared for that emotionally because it really hit close to home. And while, you know, walking through there, your heart breaks that there are kids in this world that need this type of intervention.

[00:13:21] Right. And. And it’s, it’s hard to see that, but at the same time, when you remove that emotion and you look at the facts, I’m so grateful that these kids who need this kind of help have a place to go to get this kind of help. And they can get their lives back and they can get back on track and they can, you know, reach whatever potential it is that, that they’re destined to reach.

[00:13:45] You know, and you can help, uh, preserve the family unit, you know, and, and you’re giving kids a shot at life when. There may not have been an opportunity for that otherwise, you know? And so, yes, it’s sad that kids need this type of help sometimes, but it’s, it would be even worse if they needed this type of help and they couldn’t get it, you know?

[00:14:08] And so I walked away from that experience just with, with such an appreciation for, for what you guys are doing and a much deeper understanding of the importa. Of that and how I, I wish I had had that perspective when I was trying to make a decision about what was best for my son and, and our family. And, um, I, I just wanted to thank you guys for that because that, that was, I did not expect to walk away with that type of experience.

[00:14:39] And it was, it was really a powerful experience for me and, and, um, If I were ever in a situation where I had to make that type of decision, I would approach it much differently. Now, you know, thankfully, I don’t think, I think we’re good, so we can keep that spot open for someone who truly needs it. But, uh, don’t be afraid.

[00:15:01] You know, you can, you can reach out and, uh, you guys can answer questions and, and, and help parents better understand exactly what this entails. And help them to overcome those emotional hurdles so that they can preserve their family unit and get their child the help that they, they. So any final thoughts?

[00:15:21] Brandon Clark: Well, I mean, I appreciate you saying all that and, and it, I mean, I think you summed it up really well, not not much to, to add to that, to be honest, because you said it very, very wonderfully. I was talking to a, a therapist the other day and we were talking about the differences between residential and private practice, and he had mentioned to me that.

[00:15:44] He prefers residential because when he goes home he knows that his, his patients, you know, the kids are, are. He knows where they are and he knows that there’s round the clock supervision 24 7. It’s always staffed. Or we have, um, you know, nursing around the clock and we have support staff around the clock that are always watching the kids.

[00:16:09] And so he just mentioned that, that that gives him some peace of mind that you don’t always. Elsewhere. And so I think that can be generalized to, to parents as well. And parents can have peace of mind knowing that their, their kids are safe and they’re gonna be cared for. And if something comes up, there’s a place that has resources to respond appropriately.

[00:16:31] And, and, um, I’ll, I’ll say another, another way to learn about us is, uh, our. Our, uh, conference, our Springbrook converge conference where you and I met mm-hmm. just earlier this year is a good way to, to learn about our program a little bit and meet, meet some cool people from around the world. We had Temple Grand in there earlier this year and um, we’ll, we’re gonna do it again next year, I think in May.

[00:16:58] Yeah. So that’ll be a good time. Looking forward to that actually. Check us out.

[00:17:03] Rob Gorski: Yeah. Uh, I’ll have all of your information and links in the show notes below and on a blog post that people can reach out and connect to you with you guys if they have any questions or they need information. Um, you know, thank you again for everything.

[00:17:16] You know, I, I will carry that experience with me and, uh, it was really good talking to you and I really hope that anybody listening heard what was being said today and, and recognizes that. The placement of your child in any kind of acute or residential care is a very difficult decision, but there are people who are here to help and answer your questions and help you help your child, you know, so, um, I, I appreciate your time.

[00:17:49] Brandon have, have a fantastic, I don’t know, it’s Thursday I think when we’re recording, so it’s Thursday, so have a great rest of your week. Enjoy your weekend and uh, we will definitely be in touch.

[00:17:58] Brandon Clark: Okay. Thanks for your time. I appreciate all the questions and we’ll, we’ll talk soon.

[00:18:02] Rob Gorski: Absolutely take care.

[00:18:04] Before close things out today, I just wanna say thank you to Dr. Clark for taking the time to come on a show. I really appreciate it. This is a very difficult topic to talk about, and it’s something that a lot of people just aren’t going to be able to really relate to, but maybe it’ll give you some insight into what other families are experiencing.

[00:18:20] You know, one of the, one of the concerns, one of the problems with the way that I think we deal with autism is that we have so many different, um, People under one umbrella, and everyone is unique and everyone is different, and everyone’s experience is different. And there are extremes on either side, uh, all fall under the same diagnosis.

[00:18:39] And, and some of these people need this type of help and families are in crisis, you know? So, so I think we need to talk about it. I’m glad that you guys had reached out and asked these questions because really we need to talk about it. I know it’s not fun. I know it’s not easy, right? I mean, not talking about it doesn’t mean that it’s not real.

[00:18:58] It doesn’t make it go. Make it any less relevant to the people who are, who are struggling with this right now. So again, Brandon, thank you for, for coming on a show and answering all of my questions and helping people to better understand what the process is and how this works and what the goals are.

[00:19:13] You can find more information about, uh, Dr. Brandon Clark and Springbrook Autism Behavioral Health by visiting Uh, link be show notes below. I spent some time there this summer and I got to kinda get to know the staff and, and. See what goes on down there. And while I would, I would never wish for any child or family to have to make this kind of decision or to have to go to a place away from their home.

[00:19:41] I am grateful that places like Springbrook exist. You know, the only thing worse than needing a child to go to residential care is needing a child to go to residential care and not have a facility available. Right. So, uh, thank you guys for everything that you do. And as always, you can find me at all my information is, uh, at the top of the page. All my social links, all that kind of stuff. You can interact with this podcast. You can leave feedback, you can submit questions or show topics, or maybe you want to be a guest. You can do all that there as well. You can also subscribe to this podcast on any one of your favorite podcasts.

[00:20:14] Listen in an that subscribe button, you’ll always be up to date on all the current apps, episode releases. And lastly, I just wanna say thank you to my sponsors for making this episode possible. Be sure to check them out. They’ll be in the uh, show notes below and hope you guys have a fantastic week. Take care of yourselves.

[00:20:28] Questions coming and uh, we’ll talk soon. All right, thanks. Bye.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.