Friday, March 26, 2010

Does My Child Have RAD?

I remember wondering about it for several years.  When we adopted them we were told they had attachment issues. I think most foster adopt kids do.  I was told they worked on these issues. I was sure my little tots, ages 3 and 6, did love me and I loved them fiercely.  As they became older it became clearly evident that somthing major was wrong. For Taz around age 7 it became dramatic.  He became increasingly distructive to our home. I would hear him in his room distroying his furniture all night. If I went down he would laugh and run. I could catch him and make him lay down but as soon as I'd get up he'd start back. I couldn't function the next day because of no sleep.  He becme more and more disruptive at school, very defiant.  One day he was carried from the lunch room in a rage.  Bear was always quietly defiant. Very passive aggressive. He did not become more openly defiant until his teen years.  He is now around 5'10". Taz is about 5'6" at age 15 so will really grow over the next couple of years. I am 5'4" so they are both bigger and stronger than me now. I shudder to think what our lives would be like if we had had no progress in attachment.

What to do? We tried psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists, herbal treatments, chiropractors. Anything and everything we could think of. Nothing made a bit of difference. They were diagnosed with bipolar, intermittent explosive disorder, ADHD, anxiety, depression. No medication helped. No counseling help. Most counseling focused on changing my parenting when I was already doing all the things they would suggest. Frustration..exhaustion..dispair......

We went to an attachment threapist and our lives changed forever. This was combined with EMDR which is a form of trauma therapy.  Taz transformed before our eyes. Bear struggled and fought it. His sadness and fear is so turned inward.  Taz has his bad days now, but they are NOTHING. NOTHING like what we used to experience. He had a couple of bad mornings this week and I woke yesterday to him making me coffee with a sorrowful look. This morning he was awesome as well.  Bear, who we now call Teddy, has taken baby steps.  Then he regresses. Baby steps. Then he regresses. He is going to be 18 soon. He does have other disorders that interfere with attachment and make it tougher.

Our lives are good again.  Yours can be too. Maybe there is no attachment therapist around. Then read, read, read. Read the blogs listed to the right. Read the websites listed to the right. I have a few books listed to the right but need to update that list!!

Those of you who have been doing this awhile, could you share your favorite book on attachment?

Those of you beginning the healing: here are the first steps.

Focus on attachment, not the lack of it. Empathy: They are reacting our of fear and sadness. Gently say during a quiet time that you understand they are sad and afraid and that you are there to help. Gentle touch: a pat on the shoulder, a hug, loving eyes especially when disciplining, solid boundaries about the big stuff, don't sweat the little stuff.

I will go back to writing some beginning RAD stuff over the next few weeks. Moms put on your thinking caps and help me out. I will be putting links to any articles on beginnng RAD parenting so let me know if you include any of that sort of thing.

Most of are not alone. There are a large bunch of parents who get it. It is hard. It is heartbreaking. You can do this. There is healing. Never, never, never quit.


Mom 4 Kids said...

Great post! Sometimes the regression feels like "we are never going to get there" but that is not the case. Little by little and you are so right, never quit.

GB's Mom said...

Great Post. My oldest RADish was 17 when we were finally told about RAD. I wish you had been around 20 years ago. It would have been so much easier to deal with when she was younger.

Brenda said...

GB Oh I how I wish I had known sooner too. They younger they are when the healing begins the better.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

I spent a good solid YEAR not investigating RAD because my daughters therapists and adoption workers insisted that no matter what else was going on, she did not have RAD.
Come to find out she did have that diagnosis.
Lesson #476, if it quacks like a duck then crawls under the table screaming and pee's on your shoes, it's a duck with RAD.
(LOL, I hope that makes sense, it sounded funny in my head)

Brenda said...


It made complete sense AND it was very funny! : )

Tammy said...

That sounds so much like the path we have followed.

Our oldest was presented to us and a rare healthy normal child...who just happened to have been handed over by incarcerated birhtmom right after birth to her friends to pass around and neglect *rolling my eyes*... but, they said, children are resilient. Yep, I think that if we hadn't found our AT that resilient child would be in prison today.

Brenda, you are a voice crying in the wilderness. Keep telling them... Never give up!!

I am sharing our fourth journey through attachment therapy, on my blog... if it can help anyone.

Country mom said...

Thank you, you are one of the first people to admit that not everyone has access to an attachment therapist. We have tried so hard to find one. Found a few that claimed that's what they were, but they didn't know as much as I did! One told me she needed to seem my son alone so he could get used to being away from me. Um, isn't that the opposite of attachment therapy's goals? So I am doing as you said and reading everything I can find, even stuff that is contradictory. I take what helps and discard the rest. Most of them run together in my brain after so many years of reading (I started reading about it when I adopted my dd ten years ago, but she was young enough that she had only very mild issues we dealt with years ago.) One that stands out because it helped me understand my own feelings and reactions was "when a stranger calls you mom". I liked "Love lessons" because it seemed like one of the more honest stories and it was similar in some ways to mine. My husband was brought on board to support me after he read "dandilion on my pillow, butcher knife beneath".

Brenda said...

Country Mom,

I have not read Love Lessons. I wll check it out!! Thanks. I think many people don't have an attachment therapist around. We drove an hour and a half to get to one. I know some would be thrilled to even have one that close. I agree about what makes an attachment therapist. I think the person needs to be trained by someone who has practiced attachment therapy for some time. Reading a book, attending a workshop, reading websites, just doesn't do it. I have raised 2 kids with RAD. I will get my counselor's provisional license late fall/early winter. I will not consider myself an attachment therapist until I get further training regardless of my life experience.

marythemom said...

Coming to Grips with Attachment by Katharine Leslie is one of my favorite because it has lots of practical advice. I just got back from one of her seminars, and she's amazing. I'm starting When a Stranger Calls You Mom.

I like parts of Beyond Consequences too. Daniel Hughes has a great philosophy and I'm glad our attachment therapist uses a lot of his style in her therapy, although I had a tough time getting through his book - it's not an easy read.

Mary in TX

Anonymous said...

I followed Essie over here and I will write my opinions on this and you can read them and take them or leave them. Our journey with teenage boys has been unbelievably hard. Anyone who says RAD is not real has not met my kids. Thanks for the forum for conversation.

Anonymous said...

I added my thoughts to your conversation on my blog:

Unfortunately, I am well versed in RAD and everything that comes along with it.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Hi- I sort of "piggybacked" a post on my blog from this one and linked it. Just so you know!