Developmental Disorders Program

Developmental Disorders

Patients with developmental disorders require a specialized approach to psychiatric treatment. Our Developmental Disorders Program provides intensive, acute inpatient treatment of serious behavioral and psychiatric disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults with developmental disorders such as autism, mental retardation, pervasive developmental disorders, and other severe developmental syndromes.

Our Program provides services on two inpatient units:
  • Developmental Disorders Unit for Youth serves patients ages 4-13
  • Developmental Disorders Unit for Adolescents and Young Adults serves patients ages 14 and older

The Hampstead Hospital Developmental Disorders Program is the first specialized psychiatric unit of its kind in New Hampshire. Additionally, it is one of the few programs in the country that integrates best practice standards from both psychiatry and behavioral psychology. Our DD Program provides direct care service and programming that utilize the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. These approaches have the most empirical support for treating severe presentations of patients with developmental disorders.

Why Hospitalization May Be Needed

Hospitalization may be needed to stabilize current acute behavioral or psychiatric problems. Some common reasons for hospitalization include:
  • Severe aggression, self-injury, destructive behavior, repetitive or stereotyped behaviors that interfere with daily functioning
  • Serious changes in mood, mental status, or other psychiatric symptoms
  • Medication concerns that require
    • Comprehensive assessment
    • Management of complex regimens
    • Medication changes in a safe, controlled environment

About Our Program

Treatment Team

Our treatment team includes board certified behavior analyst s, doctoral level behavioral psychologist and clinical psychologist/trauma specialist, child and adult psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, special educators, behavior specialists, and therapeutic recreational specialist. Consultation by other medical specialties is also provided, as needed.

Program Goals

The primary goals of the program are to:
  • Establish an accurate diagnosis and behavioral treatment plan with medication management
  • Address the presenting difficulties through data-based and assessment-driven treatment intervention
  • Prepare the patient for re-entry into a less restrictive setting

Progress is evaluated daily for each patient, using individual treatment goals and standard psychiatric measures. Treatment is continuously adjusted to the patient's changing condition.

Our team works closely with the family and with pre-hospitalization treatment providers to identify aftercare needs early in hospitalization.

Specialized Program Components

Intensive Behavior Supports

Upon admission, behaviors of concern are identified and a treatment plan is developed based on functional components of problem behaviors. The clinical team implement s behavior change interventions that include least restrictive approaches, positive behavior supports, and teaching alternative behaviors. The clinical team continuously reviews each patient's progress and adjusts interventions as needed.

Unique Daily Programming Structure

Each patient participates in therapeutic activities that are specific for persons with developmental disorders. The activity structure focuses on life setting and community support needs after discharge.

Youth Program

Our program utilizes tutorial services to provide an academic curriculum that is based on special education for youth with developmental disorders. The principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) provide the foundation for our tutorial services. Patients work on individual goals that are in compliance with each patient's Individual Education Plan (IEP). Our program also includes structured therapeutic activities that are designed to develop and maintain adaptive behaviors, coping skills, and social skills.

Adolescent and Young Adult Program

The model for this unit is based on psychiatric day programming and life skills development. Patients participate in individual adaptive and life skills training and behavior therapy groups. Patients under the age of 22 who attend school in the community also participate in school programming that relates to their community-based school goals.

Specialized Staffing

Our Program provides higher numbers of staff than on traditional psychiatric units. Therapists on both units are specialists in behavioral intervention, with additional training both in the population and in behavioral procedures.

Family Support

Upon admission, our social worker will conduct a family assessment that includes an evaluation of the nature of the patient's difficulties, the impact on the family, the family's pattern of responding and coping, and parenting skills.

Additional family support includes:
  • Ongoing consultation to the family for the duration of the admission
  • Behavioral skills training and other parent support services as needed
  • Identification and coordination of discharge services that include: transfer of care and opportunities for training in behavior support interventions

Transition Planning and Support

Beginning with pre-admission contacts, our Program staff work directly with community-based programs and providers such as schools, stabilization teams, community support staff, and human service agencies.

Our staff will:
  • Develop goals for the patient's return to the care of the pre-hospitalization providers and family support systems that will improve the patient's long-term prognosis
  • Provide training in behavior management strategies prior to discharge

Developmental Disorders Services Links