Longtime program helps guide parents with behaviorally challenged children

Mental Health

It can leave parents feeling hopeless, and helpless, dealing with a behaviorally challenged child.  

“I just felt kind of hopeless,” parent Jennifer Driver said. “Really, like I was failing my child.” 

Drive’s story is echoed by Jasmine Davis.  

“The tantrums were the biggest things for me,” Davis explained. “I was afraid to take my son anywhere.” 

At the urging of a healthcare provider, Davis visited Nashville’s Regional Intervention Program (RIP).  

The program, which started in 1969, is described as a “parent implemented program,” which guides parents in learning the skills to work directly with their own children.   

“I found a very supportive environment,” said Driver. “I found a lot of different tools and strategies that I had never tried before.” 

Driver first joined RIP 14 years ago. Her son David was four years old at the time.  

He’s now 17, and mom is a long-time parent case manager for RIP.  

“I would say RIP is a place that takes that isolation away,” Driver explained. “Because you come to a place of support, with people who understand what that feels like.” 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1 in 8 children have a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. Remedies vary case by case.

 Jaime Herndon reached her low point over Thanksgiving, three years ago.  

“We spent the night, and my son was around all the cousins – he was really aggressive around them,” she recalled. “I could see relatives getting really worked up about it, so that was really hard for us. I spent a lot of time crying in the bathroom that Thanksgiving.” 

After eight months, and a stint in RIP, Herndon told News 2 the change was noticeable.  

The program’s effect could truly be seen eight months later during another long family vacation.  

“[I] saw my brother bond with my son for the first time, engage with him, and it was all very happy, and joyful,” said Herndon. “I remember my parents calling after that and telling us, ‘Wow. We questioned why you signed up for that program at first, but wow, what a difference.'” 

Since it’s a state program, RIP is free and works in two phases.  

Phase I focuses on active treatment, and according to RIP, “families meet with their parent case manager during each program to identify challenging behaviors they are experiencing. Once those behaviors are identified, families learn specific positive behavior management strategies and skills to effectively address them.”  

In Phase II, “families strengthen and generalize their skills by teaching and supporting newly enrolled families. Parent implementation comes to life in this phase. Families in this phase of treatment serve as a lead teacher in classrooms, prepare classroom activities, conduct intake interviews with potential new families and have the opportunity to identify and carry out other projects that benefit the overall program. Families continue to monitor their progress and have ongoing support from RIP staff.”  

With the payback portion, parents can teach other parents how to adapt.  

“This isn’t a place where you bring your children to be fixed or something,” said Parent Case Manager, Jennifer Wright. “This is a place where you learn, work together and learn tools and strategies to become a happier and healthier family together.” 

It’s progress, and possibly a solution, for parents feeling lost and alone. 

Click here to learn more about the RIP program. 

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