Friday, October 24, 2014


I am helping several mom's find their way through the minefield of RAD. I find there are several questions each mom who is new to RAD asks.
1. Can my other children "get" RAD? No, only children who never bond with anyone as an infant will have RAD. However, children may have insecure attachments or disorganized attachments which means while they have bonded with you, that bond is not a strong one and the child will not fully trust you or will allow you to get only so close before acting out. These types of attachment's come from early hospitalization, difficult pregnancy, a distant mom, having needs met only part of the time, trauma or anything that would interfere with a solid attachment.
2. How do I know if my child has RAD/Attachment Disorder (AD)? Does your child make eye contact when talking to you? What happens when they hurt themselves? Do they run for mom or a stranger? Do they allow hugs? Some children are naturally more cuddly than others but children with RAD/AD will make themselves stiff, it is like hugging a board. Is your child destructive, more so than a typical inquisitive child? Does he break his own toys? Does he have any stranger awareness or does he go to anyone without fear?
3. What do I do if I suspect my child has an attachment problem? I would recommend getting a neuro/psych eval done. Our insurance requires us to get a basic psych eval done before they will pay for a neuro/psych. We saw a doctor at Hershey Medical Center who was excellent. We had to fill out around 17-20 pages of information which was mailed to us prior to our evaluation. On the day of the appointment the Dr. took the child to her office for about 1.5 hours and had him do lessons, follow directions, answer questions, sequencing, matching etc. She tested his coordination and motor skills among other things. After she saw our son she spent about an hour with me going over his results. She then typed up a summary of the evaluation, highlighting the things he needed help with and giving suggestions. 
4. I don't think my child is sick enough to do some of the horrible things you read about in books about RAD. A wise mom told me to always honor the threat. Which means, if your child, even in passing says something that strikes fear into your heart, do not brush it off and ignore it. Sometimes children use threats as a cry for help. They may not have the ability to ask for help so making a threat may be their only means. 
5. What can I do to help my child feel secure? Rock them, sing, cuddle, bottle feed or feed them sweets if they are older, read to them, spend time doing things they enjoy and let them know that while you may not be able to say, "I know exactly what you are going through," you do care. Give them a special snack sack that they can fill with food to eat in case they get hungry. 
6. Is there something wrong with me, as mom? No. Your child came to you with a damaged heart. He truly believes he is unlovable and when you try to show him he is lovable it goes against his core beliefs about himself, so he sets out to prove you wrong.
7. Will my child get better? If RAD is the "only" thing going on, you have a good therapist and you understand therapeutic parenting, then yes, he has a good chance of healing. However, oftentimes a child who has RAD has multiple other things going on and that can complicate things greatly. You may have to lower your expectations for your child. John H. a therapist we visited said, "You may have to be ok seeing your child only once a year with occasional emails in between. He may never be able to trust you as parents." Are you ok with that? 
8. How can I help other's understand my child? That of course varies with people but we have found sharing articles and books about the subject help. We had Braden's therapist do a basic training on RAD at our school. We invited family and friends and that went a long way towards understanding. We still get questioned about our different methods of parenting. We try to know the reason behind the particular parenting methods we use. It is better to have a professional opinion backing you up. For some reason their opinion is easier to believe than the parent who knows the child.
9. Which professional do I follow? Karen Purvis, Heather Forbs, Brian Post, Nancy Thomas? a mixture of them all is what usually works best. Since attending the attachment seminar by Karen Purvis several months ago, we have found TBRI works best for our most traumatized child.
10. Why does my child act like a toddler one moment and his chronological age the next? Due the the trauma, the timing of the trauma and a host of other things, your childs brain is at various stages of development. If you place a snack on the table and you 8 year old piles it all at his spot, like a toddler would, treat him like one. Do not scold, just kindly say, "Let's put some back so the other children may have a snack to." If he acts like an 8 year old going on 21 and believe me, children with trauma can be wise beyond their years in some things, talk with him on an older level. The tough part is when the child switches ages every few minutes. It can be frustrating talking o him like you would another adult and a few minutes later, caring for him like a toddler. Your child needs you to meet him on his level to promote healing.
    Those were the basic questions. If you have more, email me. I don't have all the answers but through the years I have developed a greater understanding of attachment disorders and am only to glad to be of help to someone. It is a small way I can repay those who sat on the phone for hours helping me sort out behaviors and emotions.

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