Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Indiscriminate affection/lack of affection/RAD


I put these 2 together because they are kind of a reflection of one another.
Indiscriminate affection toward strangers: One our youngest was 3 and 4 he would walk up and hug everyone. We would walk into McDonald's and he would go over to strangers and climb on their laps. As the boys became older they would ask if they could go live with a friends family. They didn't ask this when they were mad, just asking. If we went to an amusement park we had the rule in line that they had to stand in between my husband and myself because they would immediately gravitate toward the people behind or in front of us in line. At LaserQuest just this last summer our family stood together going over our scores. We were ready to leave and ooops, one of our boys hadn't even been with us but was standing with a family of strangers going over his scores. I believe part of this is because as they grew up a stranger could be mom next week. They moved around so much and were told "this is your new family" so often that they did not develop a sense of boundaries. When I walk up to someone if I get too close it is almost like I feel an invisible force stopping me. I don't feel comfortable too close. They don't feel that. They get too close. All we can do is talk to them about this and demonstrate how close is appropriate. Talk about the difference between what we talk about with family and what we talk about with others (that is another whole long topic) . Their people skills are poor other than when they are manipulating and it is a reall hard thing for them to "get".

Lack of Affection on Parent terms (not cuddly):
Ever hug a tree? I have every morning! When I first started hugging my boys they would stiffen. One still does. It is so uncomfortable to them. And yet if I was fixing dinner, carrying laundry or on the phone they would run up with their arms spread wide demanding a hug. They wanted me to reject them. Then they can say "I was right. I cannot trust this mom. Look what she just did." They have to practice hugging me. At first they would put their arms straight around and grab their own hands. A way of avoiding touching me. When I told them not to touch their hands they would make sure their hands were perfectly parallel and it was very loose and stiff. It still is sometimes. Kind of like they are making the letter "O" with their arms and I just happen to be in the middle. They also like to pat my back in a parental way. So they have to learn how a child receives a hug from mom. You know you've made progress when they melt into you and are relaxed. Keep working. It will get there!

9 comments:

Tami Boesiger said...

Hugging trees, huh? You crack me up, Brenda.

Brenda said...

Hmmm. I guess that would sound funny....It is a very common description used in the RAD world. Sometimes I forget how things sound to everyone else. It was not an enviornmental statement : )

Denise said...

Well, now that I have recovered from the flu...again, I was able to catch up. Great information! It's always amazing to me, no matter how many times or in how many ways it's presented, just how complicated RAD is. Unfortunately, I understand completely how that "tree" feels; I just can't imagine wrapping my arms around two of them! The strength and courage you have been blessed with through all this is something for the rest of us to embrace. I hope that some day I can walk with the same grace and confidence you do. Love you.

Brenda said...

Denise,

You are always so kind. For some reason the phrase "Can't see the forest for the trees" comes to mind but I have no idea why. I'm sure it is deep though ; )

Rachelle said...

You all are too funny. Great information though!

Anonymous said...

My little tree feels more like hugging a porcupine :-(
Linda N

Renee said...

That is the one and only area my child with RAD differs from the textbook. She is ALWAYS willing to accept a hug. In a nice way. She does do the rejection asking though. And every other indicator there is.

Anonymous said...

I hug trees...at least they don't reject me

Anonymous said...

My son (technically step-son;5 years) probably has some form of an attachment disorder (we are just now being told by his counselor that she believes he was neglected and psychologically abused by his mom). For years he was a tree, then one day it clicked with me - maybe if I tell him what I'm doing, he'll accept it, he hugs others (relatives outside of the immediate family and family friends that are virtually strangers). So I began telling him "I'm hugging you" each time I hugged him. Pretty soon, the rest of my family caught on and began doing the same. My "B" (this is his nickname) willingly accepts hugs now after over a year of doing this, he even melts into him. The strange after-effect of the situation: he announces that he is hugging you. It's a little odd for a child to do this, but announcing a hug is better than not accepting one. We still struggle with him (arguing, taking joy in other's misfortunes, having to continue to visit his mother despite the past treatment because she is no longer neglecting/abusing him, regressing after he returns from his visits, etc), but we are making progress. Thanks for your blog! I was wondering how other parents were dealing - don't know anyone around here with a child like my "B". :)