Educating the world about Reactive Attachment Disorder through experience, hope, humor and love.
(Warning: nothing here should be taken as medical advice)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Family and Respite

I don't think anybody would ever argue that a parent doesn't need a break from time to time.  In order for a family to stay strong, the parents need time away from the kids to recharge and reconnect.  This is especially true for parents of RAD children - the day to day stresses and challenges that seem to frequently require one to suspend belief that such a thing could be happening take a heavy toll on ones sanity.   This is why adoption and child welfare agencies extoll the value of respite care. 

But what if your RAD isn't adopted and you really have no reason for any "child welfare" agencies to be involved?  You still need to be able to take a break from time to time.  Get that kid out of the house and take a friggen break already!!  Oh, wait.. it's not that easy.  At least it isn't for us.  We have had friends who would take the girls in the past.  Once.  But after the first time, they suddenly begin having every excuse in the book to not watch them again.  So friends are out, which leaves us with family.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my family.  I have 3 wonderful sisters and a mother who, although she isn't perfect, is at least willing to take the girls once a year or so for a night or two.  Yes you read that right... we get 2 nights a year of respite if we're lucky.  I have had offers from my sisters to take them for up to a week at a time but sometimes you have to weigh the good against the bad, and since nobody in my family has any clue whatsoever about RAD, I can't imagine the damage done if they were to have the girls for an entire week.  It's bad enough that it can take weeks to recover from the damage done from just a single night with grandma.

When reading about RAD symptoms I came across this gem that describes things pretty well... "Child is often defiant, angry, and argumentative for the parent but outsiders may never observe this type of behavior.  Many times an outsider might even think the parent is exaggerating, or maybe even causing the child's behavioral problems due to being over-controlling or from poor parenting"

I can't begin to tell you how true that rings with me. My sisters and mother seem to think exactly that - we are over-controlling parents who are the root cause of our daughters issues.  My mom even said to me once "If you would just let up on her a bit she wouldn't feel the need to act out so much".  hahahahahahahaha... ok, let me rephrase that.. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.. ok.. the very LAST thing my RAD needs is unstructured free time to do what she wants.  Yet that is exactly what she gets when she visits grandma, which is why it can take weeks to bring things back under control.  I don't know what's worse - not getting a break, or undoing the damage done when we DO take a break.  Knowing what is coming when the RAD returns certainly makes it hard to enjoy any "down time".  Think about it.... if you knew somebody was waiting to chop your legs off after you finished your Yoga session, would you really be able to relax and get the full benefit from it?  Or would your thoughts be consumed with how much it's going to hurt to have your legs chopped off?  Yeah, me too. 

However, somebody mentioned a possible solution.  There is a 2 DVD set that can be found at called "Give Me A Break" that is designed to provide "information babysitters need in order to be highly effective in providing therapeutic respite/ relief."..  SERIOUSLY??!? OMG... I'm getting me a copy (I know, bad grammar but I'm just that excited).  If it is even half as good and useful as it sounds, I will kiss the ground Nancy Thomas walks on. 

Of course, buying and watching the DVDs is pretty useless... the bigger challenge will be to get the family to set aside their preconceived ideas about my RAD, and watch the DVDs with an open mind... after all "she's perfectly fine here and is an absolute joy to have over!!"


Monday, June 27, 2011

Sometimes it's the small things

That drive us crazy and our RADs know this.  Certainly it's a rare child indeed that doesn't do something to drive his/her parents up the wall at least on occasion, but I think our RADs take it to a whole new level. 

Due to our RADs food issues along with her diabetes, we keep pretty much everything with carbohydrates locked up in our bedroom closet.  The only items we can't do that with are, obviously, the things that need to be refrigerated. This includes juice, which is to a diabetic, what spinach is to Popeye - it's essentially super glucose reserved for low blood sugars.  When wife and ODD were off camping for the week I didn't have any problems with leaving both orange juice (which she doesn't particularly care for) and apple juice (which she loves) in the fridge.  All week long it went untouched. 

Enter wife and ODD.  They returned home late Saturday night after RAD had gone to bed.  One of the things they brought back with them was a small unopened single-serving bottle of apple juice which was put in the fridge.  Note the word "unopened". 

The next morning as we were preparing lunches for a day out, we were gathering the drinks when the wife pulled out the small bottle of apple juice and it started leaking.  That's when we noticed it had been opened and a medium sized sip had been taken.  Not a small sip, not a glug or a chug, but just enough of a sip to make it obvious *somebody* had some (as if the broken seal wasn't enough of a clue).  ODD denies doing it (she would have likely drank the whole thing), RAD denies doing it, and the dogs don't have oppose-able thumbs so I'm pretty sure they weren't behind it. 

A little thing? Yes, but also a big thing.  Whoever did it, knew it would be found, knew what kind of chaos it would cause, and obviously did it intentionally.  If it were an isolated incident it wouldn't really be a problem.  But it is just one of many small things that happen with great regularity and seem designed to drive us crazy.  Or, I shouldn't say "us" since a majority of the things that mysteriously happen are specifically targeted at the wife or ODD.  It's never my stuff - always theirs.  It's rarely something that I would notice, but almost always something that is blatantly obvious to them.  Is it ODD trying to get RAD into trouble?  Is it the wife really going crazy?  Is it RAD acting out her issues with family, and women in general?  Is it evil monkeys sneaking into the house at night to have fun?  I don't think we'll ever be able to prove it one way or another....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Food Issues

It's not infrequent that I wish the therapist that diagnosed my RAD had really clued me in to what it truly meant.  I didn't think it was that big of a deal - figured it would pass with enough love.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have started earlier on dealing with it.  But even before she was diagnosed I knew something was wrong.  When I took custody of her at about 2 years old, one of the oddest things she did was hoard food.  I knew from visiting her while she was still with her bio-mom that she wasn't exactly living a normal lifestyle.  I frequently caught her digging in the garbage can for food, and once watched "mom" toss her food plate on the floor for her - like she was feeding a dog.  So when I found her sticking food in her pockets to save for later I just thought this was normal and would pass.  After all, with time she would come to learn that as long as she was with me she WOULD always have enough food to eat, and not need to hoard or stash food anywhere.  About a year later she was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes which only led to more issues with food.  So I chalked things up to that as well.

Here we are 12 years later and food is still an issue.  She will sneak out in the middle of the night to eat and not get a shot for it (which causes her to start her day with super high blood sugars), and we have had to abandon most of our kitchen cupboards and keep as many of the carbohydrate-laden foods as possible in our bedroom closet.  And let's not get into the candy she somehow "finds" (another wonderful RAD trait - where DO they find all these things? Oh wait, we know the answer to that!) and eats.  Thankfully, the staff at her Day Treatment Center is on top of things and they keep a close eye on her, confiscating any candy they find and then calling me to let me know. 

With most kids, if you say "if you do this, you can have a donut (or ice cream, or whatever)", they learn that they CAN have treats if they simply do what is asked of them.  We have tried that with our RAD over and over again but it's as though we're telling her for the first time, every time.  And she doesn't care.  It's a sense of entitlement I guess?  I tell her, "keep your blood sugar under control today so we can have desert tonight".  But there's too much 'immediate gratification' involved - she'll go ahead and eat whatever she wants all day long, and then complain how unfair it is when the rest of us are eating desert and she can't because her blood sugar is 5 times higher than it should be.  Ahhh, the joys of RAD!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"They are known to accuse parents of abuse, or tell others that  a parent is depriving them of basic life necessities such as food, drink, etc… as a means of triangulating or getting sympathy from outsiders."

If you've never parented a RAD, you may wonder how bad that could be, or even WHY somebody might actually believe them.  Well it happened to me.  RADs can be incredibly convincing and manipulative, often playing the pity card, and they somehow just know what buttons to push to get that sympathy.  I always had a kitchen full of food, so imagine my surprise one day when CPS contacted me and sent a case worker over to the house.  Apparently, my daughter had been throwing away her lunches, and getting the neighbor to give her a better lunch.  Well this neighbor apparently believe I was starving my poor child and eventually called CPS.  I was able to prove I had plenty of food and that my daughter was in no danger of starving, but she had done a really good job on this neighbor who took great pity on her.  Even to the point where this woman began trying to take over parenting my daughter because she believed I wasn't doing anything.  THAT is how convincing these children can be.  

And this wasn't the only time my RAD managed to convince others how horrible we were as parents, and it wasn't until I got her into a Day Treatment Program that some of the stories began to come out.

So the next time you see a poor child who needs your help, please keep in mind that things aren't always as they seem.