Thursday, February 10, 2011

Abused Parents and RAD

That is how I feel, "abused". Harsh, but true-so true that those words are simply stated in the book that I am reading. To be exact, "Parents of Attachment disorder children often appear unreasonably angry. Probably because the more they love their child, the more pain the child dishes out to get them to stop. The child believes love hurts, as it did when his heart were broken as an infant. They don't use the parents' love to grow emotionally strong. Parents are basically abused in their own home." Wow, another strong statement and so true as to the anger and hurt we feel in our own home. I also read that there is a very high incidence of divorce in families who have children diagnosed with RAD. I believe it!!! We have had so many fights which have nothing to do with each other but rather how to handle and take care of Trenton. It has us feeling so damaged, broken, and torn. We now know it's important for us to take time for each other, as well as time for ourselves. The first chapter of the book speaks about how you need to take "me" time to keep your sanity and remain calm. You should also have "trained" respite providers but we have been cautioned that "untrained" providers can undo the hard work you have completed thus far.

So, what is RAD and what causes it? RAD is basically the inability for individuals to form long lasting relationships. This may be a reason why Trenton has no friends as schools and struggles to interact appropriately and at his current age level. In addition, RAD occurs in children who typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn to trust. They do not allow people to be in control of them due to this trust issue. This is why it is so easy for Trenton to act out or do something he know he shouldn't and just look at you and say "oh well, I don't care".

I will tread lightly when I speak of what I believe to be the cause of his RAD. This is only MY assessment of what I feel has traumatized Trenton in his past and is based off of information I have read. I was not in his life for his first year and half and cannot speak for others as to what could have possibly happened to him before he lived with Jonnie at the age of four. Again, this is my speculation. What I do know is bonding begins in utero and can have a direct effect on the bonding ability and personality of the child. "Drug or alcohol exposure, maternal stress, or an unwanted pregnancy can damage the developing child". His mother was pregnant with him when she was 18 and because she and Jonnie were not together during the time of her pregnancy I can't say one way or another if any of those issues were to blame. What I can say is that I know it wasn't a planned pregnancy. In addition, some of the following issues that occur to a child under the age of 36 months can cause further damage and puts them at high risk for RAD; physical or emotional abuse, neglect, several moves/placements/daycare providers, or an unprepared mother with poor parenting skills. Your guess is as good as mine.

So, where does that leave the child? It leaves then unable to open up to love, trust and care with their maternal figure. In this case, the "real mom", which is me. Even though the difficulties are with his biological mother, their past history, and current relationship-he will take his anger out on the "real mom" as I try to love him. These children allow no one to control them, they manipulate, control and have little or no conscience development. All signs that Trenton has. He most definitely has control issues which have been highly documented in the home and school setting with us, teachers and classroom peers.

So, that leaves me tonight with sign number two that we have highlighted as something that he exhibits. "Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers. They do not go through the healthy stranger anxiety period an infant goes through. As older children they hug strangers (he does this all the time) and school principals and anyone else they feel they can get on their side, against their mom." He hugged the therapist the first night she was here with him!!!!!!!!!!!!! She looked at me when he walked away and simply made a comment about how most 10 year old children would just roll their eyes at a therapist there to "help them" and gladly see them out the door. Not Trenton, she was his best friend and he clung to her side the entire time she was here. I began to contemplate if I had ever noticed that before. I did, but I always assumed he was a friendly kid-not scared of strangers. I soon realized that with Luke he does have stranger anxiety but with Trenton, he would go with or to anyone you introduced him to. Especially now that I see him hugging "strangers" I realized...that is kinda weird for a kid that is heading into the sixth grade...right???

Well, enough for tonight. Thanks for listening to my story. This is therapeutic for me-that's for sure. Keep the encouraging words coming!

Lastly, on a side note...Luke is doing really well and continues to grow like a weed. Today was crazy hair day and tomorrow is hat day at his school. He is learning his letters, colors and numbers and always adds new words to his vocabulary every day. He tests us at times but seems to respond well to "time outs". He is a loving child and we are now bound and determined, more than ever, to raise him in a loving, nurturing, and well adjusted home!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

RAD-no longer a word used to exclaim "cool, awesome, super!"

RAD-Reactive Attachment Disorder. Where do I start? I am not sure, so please hang in there while I explain.......

Obviously, I am speaking about my oldest son (well, he's actually my stepson but I have been a part of his life since he was almost two and I have raised him as my own since he was four-so, he is my son) who was recently diagnosed with RAD. I am having a hard time coming to terms with it but mainly that is because I am furious that it has taken six and half years to be diagnosed and four therapists later! That alone makes me want to vomit......literally sick to my stomach. The money, time, and effort and all we were ever told was our son was ADHD and medication would probably help. Well guess what, we have tried almost every single medication for ADHD and to be honest, there was never a change. It is one of the most discouraging situations I have ever been in. Within the last three months I finally went in to the psychiatrist office and said "it's NOT working, this isn't working-we need help". Who knew that those words would change our lives so much.

We were blessed to find a new therapist that was able to come to the home and quickly looked at his past history and said, "that sounds like reactive attachment disorder". Funny, because years ago when he was four and first came to live with Jonnie we noticed he was having trouble adjusting. Normal, yes but also worrisome... In fact, Jonnie's sister and I often discussed that he displayed these odd behaviors and upon further research it seemed as if he may have RAD. But, we are not doctors and we could not provide him with therapy to heal. So, the years went on and here we are. He's 10-going to be 11 in May. He suffers from many of the symptoms of RAD, it's so hard for me to believe that he wasn't diagnosed earlier. I will begin to go into the symptoms...but only night at a time. I know it would be too much to go on even though I feel like I could write all night. In advance I would like to thank each and every person who reads this, comments on this, shares this with friends, and offers us support.

According to the book I am reading, When Love is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD-Reactive Attachment Disorder by Nancy Thomas, there are about 23 sign/symptoms of RAD. The diagnosis calls for at least half the symptoms and one of the causes (we will get into what I feel the "cause" may be a little later). Just so you know, together Jonnie and I calculated that we feel he has about 18-20 of these signs/symptoms....again, unbelievable that no other therapists saw this earlier. For tonight, we will focus on the first symptom which is "acts superficial and phony, especially around strangers or people they feel they can manipulate in order to be in control."

He does this, often. He clings to strangers and prefers to be with individuals he know he can manipulate (grandparents, teachers, etc.). He puts on a front at times, so much so that even family members look at us and tell us that we are too hard on him. They see the beautiful side of Trenton (which we all know and love) but they never see the other side. The side were he treats us as if we have abused him, abandoned him, or hurt him physically or mentally-which we have not. But, as I read he has to take the anger out on his "real mom". In case you didn't read my earlier note on facebook, I leave you with this quote from one of the first pages that by far was one of the most profound moments.
"Who is the real mom? Is it the one who gave them birth? Not necessarily! The real mom is the one that guides their way, picks them up when they fall down, holds them when they cry, and loves them no matter how bad their behavior becomes. It must be clear to the child who the real mother is! She then will become the target of their anger and the haven for their hearts to heal".

So, join us on our journey as I use our blog (I promise not to just blog on RAD) about how our family is learning to heal and searching for the right way to show him how much he is loved.