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

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!!


  1. Food issues are really big with our kids. Most of them seem to have the opposite issue where they refuse to eat because it drives adoptive mom and dad crazy with worry. My daughter has the opposite problem and she also likes her sweets as your daughter does. The long term impact of food deprivation as a child are so sad to see in our kids :(

  2. My little one will refuse to eat - he has CF which means he can go along time before he gets hungry. When we first got him, if I did "win" a confrontation and get him to eat - he would simply vomit it all 1 minute later. Didn't take me long to realize this wasn't "normal adjustment stuff" like the social worker told us. Almost every RAD parent I talk to seems to struggle with food issues in one form or another. It is so sad what they went through to make them have these issues.

  3. Is the day treatment center just for summers? How does the school district address your daughter's special needs regarding the RAD?

  4. The Day treatment is year round and is a collaboration between the school district, the hospital, and county mental health, so everything is spelled out in an IEP and they are definitely used to dealing with RADs at this center. In fact it seems most of their kids are either RADs or just plain have serious anger issues.

  5. I just found your page on my parents of RAD children list and I swear I wrote everyone of these posts....ever single one and my 10 year old child's RAD is brain based from FASD damage. She was in a really good home for the formative years and never deprived of food or treats yet this is one of our huge problems. Just about had the snot in charge of Sp Ed threaten to call CPS because the school was giving her so much junk food that she refused to do anything at home because "She could get better treats and rewards in school." I finally had a psychologist recommend no junk food and I wrote a letter explaining why she can't have junk food and that was when I nearly got in trouble for my letter of "hatred" towards my Daughter. Fortunately for me it backfired and her Dr. now see's why I want her moved to a different school.