Wednesday, June 12, 2013


So now we all know the backstory.. the history. What exactly was the point of dragging all of that out in the open? The point was so that I could get from there to here....


Reactive Attachment Disorder. It still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. RAD ( frequently affects children who were adopted or in foster care. Nope, I don't have any of those, but I do have a child diagnosed with RAD.

  • Speech: Constant chatter; nonsense questions, abnormal speech patterns
  • Eating: hordes, gorges, refuses to eat, eats strange things, hides food
  • Lying: Lying for no apparent reason; Lying when the truth is obvious; false allegations of abuse
  • Stealing: Sneaks things w/o permission that could have been obtained by asking; stealing from family, school, others; theft of items with no apparent value or use
  • Affection: Indiscriminate affection, often to strangers; demanding or clingy, often at inappropriate times; not affectionate on parent’s terms
  • Regulation: Tantrums and rages may go on for hours; something apparently minor may provoke World War III; difficulties tend to escalate into major events; cannot self-regulate
  • Control, Triangulation, and Manipulation: Ultimate need for control; manipulative; need for structure and schedules; often trinagulates adults; Superficially charming and engaging, especially with outsiders
  • Friends: Poor peer relationships; shallow relationships; relationships don’t last; friends frequently don’t meet parents’ approval or are a bad influence
  • Problems making eye contact (but may make eye contact when angry or lying)
  • Oppositional: Argumentative, often over apparently insignificant things; differences escalate; non-compliant with family rules
  • Destructive to property of others, especially those most closely related; may be aggressive or violent, especially during rages
  • Self-destructive: Behaviors may be risky or directly self-harming
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive, does not appear able to learn from consequences or mistakes; does not appear to understand cause and effect
  • Hygiene: May refuse to wash, shower, groom hair, use deodorant
  • Attitude of entitlement and self-importance
  • Developmental / Learning delays
  • Pain Tolerance: May have a high threshold for big hurts, but pitch a fit over minor ones
  • Nit-picky over details, but ignores the main point
  • May appear to lack empathy and a conscience
  • Hyper vigilant
  • Fascination with fire and blood and gore
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Parents appear hostile and angry
  • I know, its a lot to read. But if you read the last post and then come here you're going to see that a LOT describe Jolie. If you had the pleasure of knowing her a few years ago you will be literally stunned by how many describe Jolie. Even today, quite a few still affect her.

    But how? I never left her alone. Aside from the relatives in the house I never used a babysitter. I was with her every single night unless I was in the hospital. I was devoted to my children. 

    But I wasn't there emotionally. If you remember I told you that I checked out when she was barely a year old. I reached the threshold of what I could handle and I emotionally checked out. 

    Really, I don't think anything hurts as bad as knowing that I caused this. 

    I didn't know anything about RAD until about 3 months ago. We tried every form of therapy and parenting we could find with Jolie. She didn't care at all about punishments, sticker charts, marble jars, rules, or other people's emotions. Hell, this child put my kitten in the dryer and turned it on at the age of 3.5. (Kitty lived... barely). It wasn't until I switched to Collaborative Problem Solving that we started making any headway. The meltdowns decreased and she started engaging. Her teacher was reporting problems in school with emotional regulation and she worked of not engaging in manipulation attempts (yes, a child CAN be manipulative) but she had no idea what we were facing either. We slowly started to rule things out but our focus was still Beth. Beth required a HUGE amount of focus and attention. Jolie could not get along with any of her peers. It was baffling. I had Jolie evaluated by the same psychologist who ultimately decided on schizophrenia for Beth and she said Jolie is incredibly intelligent and is unfortunately suffering from having a significantly mentally ill sister and a moderately severe autistic brother. I didn't buy into that at all but was able to see that Jolie had pulled the wool over this doctor's eyes.

    (I apologize now if I'm out of order or scattered. This is much harder to write than I anticipated it would be... still, it needs to be done.)

    About 3 months ago her therapist told me she believes Jolie has RAD. I googled it.. and immediately texted her with my intense protestations. This can't be possible, can it? I didn't abuse her... no one ever abused her. She wasn't adopted or in foster care. I would never hurt her... how??

    At the time our therapist let me run through every reason why this couldn't be possible. She assured me that she didn't believe for a second that I had abused any of my children. She knew they had never been abused, that I had protected them as fiercely as I knew how from any danger (too fiercely, in fact). She knew they had never gone with aunts or uncles, knew no cousins, had never been exposed to anything I didn't know about. And then she stopped talking about it. She would answer questions when I asked but she didn't engage in conversation. This woman, as irritating as it is, understands how to let me get to where I need to be. 

    I continued with my psychology classes for my Human Services degree. I read about RAD, I knew that was the most accurate description of Jolie's behavior I had ever seen but I was still very stuck about the "caused by abuse/neglect" part.

    I talked, a LOT, with besties B and H. They understand RAD (or are learning with me). I bounced ideas off of other therapists and licensed counselors. 

    And here comes my realization.

    I caused her RAD by being emotionally unavailable. My focus was on Beth because that's where it needed to be. If I had it to do over, I could do it differently because I know better now. I'm educated and experienced now. I understand how to provide for one while still tending to the urgent needs of the others. I was not emotionally unavailable enough for DCF to decide I was a danger (remember, they knew me well  by that point) but I wasn't prepared and my cries for help went unanswered.  In all fairness I don't think the help was there. 

    And here's my point. There are a ton of us. Mothers and fathers raising multiple children with mental/physical/psychological challenges. When one of our children gets diagnosed RAD we end up being labeled bad parents. The RAD support groups insist that our children are misdiagnosed because they are our biological children. The other support groups don't want us because they don't know anything about RAD and those children are "bad". Plus, RAD is caused by neglect, remember? If you're the biological parent then you're the "abuser", remember? 

    Little secret for you... those of us who have children with multiple diagnoses or complicated ones... we still need our kids to belong. We need to belong. We need to, especially when we don't think so. We need to especially when we're most afraid to. We need family, friends, peers, even just a smile. And if you think I should speak for myself, then you need to belong too. 

    Jolie is doing significantly better. There are environments she doesn't do well in (karate, very large groups, etc). She doesn't get personal space or personal boundaries and if she's allowed to she will be highly inappropriate. Since we moved to the Collaborative Problem Solving and natural consequences instead of the traditional time outs and punishments she's finally making progress. With natural consequences she can't find a way to blame it on anything but her own actions. I am working on personal responsibility and accountability with her. It doesn't always work out very well, but we will keep trying. She still has classic sociopathic behaviors, chronic lying, and blatant manipulation techniques but they are less frequent right now. While we're in this down time cycle I'm studying RAD, following a phenomenal YouTube blogger who deals with this in her own children and has wonderful parenting techniques, and picking the brains of a few professionals. The changes I made in parenting have helped move Xander from an obviously developing RAD case to a more typical 3 year old with a few sensory issues. 


    Yes, my daughter has RAD. Yes, I'm her biological parent and she has never been to foster care. There are more like me. Imagine what we could accomplish if we banded together and helped each other through this. This is why I'm writing (I know I'm not very good at it lol) and this is what I will do with my life.

    If you need help, if you need me, if you need anything.... I will help you or find you help. Try me.

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