Saturday, August 30

What Is RAD??

Some have asked, "What is RAD?" Very hard to explain RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), but here's my attempt:

Imagine if you can...
You feel physical pain when loved. You feel so angry and hurt that you can't stand to be in your body. You live your life knowing that you are unlovable and can prove it. You have never felt love, guilt, empathy or need. You are wasting your childhoook believing that every adult is stupid and needs to be controlled. You have no favorite blanket, toy, pet, or person because they are always taken from you. You must always be in control to stay alive.

RAD occurs in children that were traumatized as a young child. Here's a brainscan of a child who was severely neglected as my children were. This is the best way to show you show RAD starts:

RAD is common in adoptive families as well as families that were seperated for a number of reasons (hospital visits when the child was young, etc).
Here's some symptoms of RAD:
  • superficially engaging & charming - they can charm the pants off anyone!
  • lack of eye contact when communicating
  • indiscriminately affectionate with strangers
  • not affectionate on parents’ terms - not cuddly, don't like to sit in our laps, hugs, etc.
  • destructive to self, others and material things
  • cruelty to animals
  • lying about the obvious (crazy lying)
  • stealing
  • no impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive)
  • learning lags
  • lack of cause and effect thinking
  • lack of conscience
  • abnormal eating patterns
  • poor peer relationships
  • preoccupation with fire, blood and gore
  • persistent nonsense questions & chatter
  • inappropriately demanding & clingy
  • abnormal speech patterns
  • triangulation of adults (pitting mom against dad or therapists/teachers against parents)
  • presumptive entitlement issues
Each one of these are over the top. All children go though phases, but what you realize with RAD children is that these are too the extreme and do not end like a phase would.
The hardest thing with RAD has been building their self-esteem while fighting the RAD, because you give them a compliment you risk them feeling closer to you and then you will see and explosion and them pushing away from you. It is very difficult and exhausting raising RAD children because you have to be in control, but making them feel like they are in control. You have to be a confidence booster but aware of what may be coming. You have to plan constantly and allow them to know what is happening next, because they MUST know or they feel out of control.
Our RAD child is improving, but it's a S-L-O-W process. It has improved with us, but has not improved as much with other people such as teachers, grandparents, etc. We still encounter plenty of RAD moments, but it's not 24-hours now - maybe only 2-3 hrs a day.


mishkazena said...

Oh, that RAD. Yes. I've heard of it. However I didn't realize severe neglect caused the atrophy of the brain to that extent as shown on your blog.

You are definitely a very dedicated mother. Your kids are lucky to have you. I hope you don't mind me saying this.

Ashley's Mom said...

Unfortunately, my 18 year old daughter is diagnosed with RAD, and she has not improved in the 9 years she has been with me.

Her agressive outbursts have included knocking a child out of a wheelchair, throwing a rock into the back of a young child's head, attacking teachers, therapists and siblings, and breaking two of my ribs.

Complicating her RAD is the fact that she is also cognitively impaired. Talk therapy has not worked, and she does not understand consequences. The best I have been able to do is create a safe environment for the rest of my family - most of the time.

It is exhausting having to always been on guard in your own home. Soon, my daughter will be moving to an adult group home to help her make the transition to adulthood, and I must admit, I am looking forward to that time. :(

RAD is very, very difficult, and more often then not, the children do not heal. It's heartbraking and a very tough situation for any family willing to parent such a child.

mishkazena said...

Do the adoption centers now routinely screen the prospective kids for RAD first? Seeing how common this problem is. A kid, adopted by my friend, had that disorder and cognitive problems The kid, now an adult,is in a group home. Her parents went through hell, too.

Ashley's Mom, I'm sorry to hear that. Yes, it's a difficult disorder to treat and I cannot imagine how difficult it's for the parents to fear for their and their children's safety from a child in the family.

Having worked with pediatric clients with aggressive acting out in the past, I know how draining it is just for a 40 hours job. Never mind a full time job 24/7/365

I hope you don't feel guilty for feeling relieved when your daughter is placed into a group home. You and your family have paid a heavy price and need a break.

Dianrez said...

Attachment disorders in childhood are a tough assignment for any parent, and you and Ashley's mom have special qualities to have come this far. Congratulations, and may you have all the fortitude and creativity that you need! You have my wholehearted respect and admiration!