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

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's never too late for empathy

Since my RAD has only a mild form, we thankfully don’t have to deal with a lot of what the parents of severe RADs do. We don’t have the violence (although the fascination is there), we don’t have the eating of strange things, and we don’t seem to have to deal with the overly sexualized relationships with strangers. In severe cases even, there can be a complete lack of conscience. These kids don’t care who they hurt and why should they? Nobody cared about them when they were little so that whole “caring about others” part of the brain never developed. I feel blessed that my RAD isn’t that badly affected. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t display those traits from time to time. When she breaks something valuable for example. Most non-RADs would feel bad about something like that (especially when it’s an accident!) and, hopefully, apologize. As a teen you know when you’ve hurt somebody and it doesn’t make you feel good (usually). However, when RADs are in that position, they don’t seem to care that they hurt somebody else, only how it affects them. They are of the mindset “Why should THEY be hurt/upset? *I* am the one that’s getting yelled at”. They can seem, at times, to be emotionally blind to others.

This is partially because during the first year of a childs life, a substantial number of synaptic connections develop between the brain hemispheres. A healthy functioning brain relies on these connections to be solid. Sadly, children who were abused or neglected during that first year have poorly integrated cerebral hemispheres. This poor integration of hemispheres and subsequent underdevelopment of the orbitofrontal cortex (which is responsible for integrating emotional responses generated in the limbic system) is the basis for such symptoms as difficulties with emotional regulation, lack of cause-effect thinking, inability to accurately recognize emotions in others, inability to articulate the one’s own emotions, an incoherent sense of self and autobiographical history, and a lack of conscience.


There is hope though. Research has shown that empathy CAN be developed at a later age. But it takes time. And effort. And a lot of love. And more effort. I hear RAD parents talk all the time about how drained they are just from trying to hold things together from day to day (and I can relate!). But they know the alternative can be far worse. Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Edgar Allen Poe, Jeffery Dahmer, and Ted Bundy all had documented attachment issues that were left untreated (or untreated for too long). But don’t give up hope. You don’t HAVE to be raising the next mass murderer – in fact if you’re reading this and you have a RADish at home, chances are you’re already making a huge positive impact on that child. How do we know these children can be turned around? One particularly famous person had attachment disorder and went on to become one of the greatest humanitarians of all time. Her name?

Helen Keller.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

RADs and Cutting

I can't begin to describe the feelings that washed over me when I found out my RAD was cutting herself. It just made no sense to me. Why would somebody do that? I suffered trauma as a child (although I was a bit older) and never had the urge to cut so I just couldn't fathom it. When I asked her about it, she said it helped her relieve "the stress". Say What?

So I started looking into what makes children cut.


Totally random cute ape picture

While not all people who experienced trauma at a young age cut, many cutters did experience trauma to one extent or another. Two things that help to integrate and overcome trauma (or prevent its aftereffects) are a sense of control (ability to change outcomes) and an ability to make sense of the event(s). Infants and small children really have no way to control their situations. They can't feed themselves, nor can they change their own diapers. They also don't have the reasoning capacity to make sense of what is happening to them. They just don't have the experience or the knowledge. So the brain takes over and goes into survival mode by inducing a dissociative state which "removes" the child from feeling the pain. This state is brought about by the brain flooding itself with opioids such as endorphins and enkephalins which are natural heroin-like substances that kill pain and produce calm. They are an integral part of the brains stress-response system.

Since the brain "learns" from repetition, it learns that the only way to deal with anxiety and stress is to release these opioids (since it has no other way to deal with it). Cutting produces stress on the system through pain, which forces the brain to release these opioids. So when a child cuts, they are typically in a state of anxiety or stress that is so great they are essentially self-medicating the only way they know how.

How does this help? If you know your child is cutting, you can attack the problem by reducing their stress and anxiety for the short term. The long term solution is to re-train their brain to provide them with other, better tools to deal with the stress. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness are all wonderful tools, as is encouraging writing or expressing themselves through art (and you thought they were just making pretty pictures to hang on your fridge!!). Talk therapy can also be helpful, but keep in mind that therapists can do far more harm than good with RADs. If you can't find an Attachment therapist, and the therapist you do find isn't willing to work with you and learn about attachment issues, it may actually be better to go without for the time being (disclaimer: I'm no doctor, I can't give medical advice, and you need to do what's right for you and your child. I can only speak from experience).

However you choose to approach it, keep in mind that the cutting is a symptom - the cause is the lack of ability to effectively deal with stress. Treat the cause and you'll stop the cutting. It worked for us :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


So many topics to write about. There is so much to learn, so much to read, so much to DO that sometimes I wish there were more than 24 hours in the day. I have so immersed myself into learning all I can about Attachment issues that I can barely keep up with it all. But that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about pride. Not the "I'm hella proud of myself for (insert whatever here)", but the beaming pride only those exposed to children can understand. My girls have gone through so much, and they certainly have their problems, but when I look at them (especially when they are sleeping) I am truly and honestly proud of who they are becoming. Certainly I don't feel this way all the time. I get angry with them, I get frustrated, I even just get plain sick and tired of dealing with them and the problems they create, but all that melts away when I look at them sleeping peacefully.

Yesterday RAD had her first day at her summer camp. It's a special camp run by the Seneca Center of San Francisco that caters to children with mental health issues. It's free (yay!) and somewhat exclusive - not all of the children referred are accepted, and that referral has to come from a case worker at one of several centers around the city. But she got in and although she will miss the third week due to her trip to grandmas, she will be there for 2 weeks. Of course, whenever there is something like this I figuratively hold my breath the entire time she's gone. Since she is a type 1 diabetic, anything could happen, and that anything could have fatal results. Not that it has yet (duh, or I wouldn't be writing this in the present tense), but the potential is there, and she DOES have a history of using her diabetes to control situations. Needless to say, diabetes + RAD is not one of the more comforting combinations I can think of.

Regardless, she returned home last night and although her glucose levels weren't good, she managed to catch it and fix them by the time she got home. PLUS, she had a great time! Of course, she can always keep things up for a day or two... it's typically day #3 where things fall apart, but I'll happily take two days of responsible behavior! Today however, is a whole 'nother story... they're heading to Great America (an amusement park about 50 miles away) and again, her history is to "forget" to manage her diabetes when she's having fun, but she did ok last time she went so I'm hoping for a repeat performance.

Then there is ODD... she had a great day yesterday as well! She totally lived up to my benchmark of "Responsible, Respectful, and Fun To Be Around" (RRFTBA). She is another one who looks so peaceful and untroubled when she's sleeping (can't say as much when she's busy screaming throughout the house in one of her rages). She's very excited about her upcoming solo trip to Seattle to see her aunt and new cousin, but things like this usually set her off and for some reason it hasn't yet.

So this morning I got to start my day looking at my two beautiful daughters with a heart full of pride and love. I wish every parent could start their day this way and have it stick with them throughout all the ups and downs... I think we, as parents, would be far better off for it.

(Of course, you need to go look at your own kids - please don't let me catch you in my kids bedrooms while they're sleeping!!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My dog... Rad or RAD ?

So I wanted to write something a little more serious today, but this morning when I was outside with my dogs (if I don't take em out first thing they leave little presents for us by the door) I watched one of them pooping. Most dogs squat and poop.. but not him. He squats, poops, moves a few inches, poops again, moves again and... well, you get the idea. So I find myself following him around with a bag picking up his little deposits all over the place. That's when it dawned on me... it's a very RAD-like trait.

The dog... RAD or just a dog?

In the online Attachment Disorder Support group I belong to, we share tips and tricks as well as stories about our children - both the failures and the successes. It's a great group of people, and one of the constant "themes" is that RADs are masters at creating chaos one minute, then turning around and behaving like nothing ever happened. They aren't *pretending* that nothing happened, it just seems that in their minds, nothing really DID happen.

When childrens brains develop, they "learn" from repetitive patterns of activity, good or bad. When a child doesn't get those repetitive patterns (as in the case of neglect), those parts of the brain don't develop. When a baby cries and the mother (or father) tends to it, it learns to associate people with pleasure and creates a foundation for future relationships. Without that association, without somebody tending to the babys needs, it learns that others can't be counted on and begins to look to itself for pleasure and satisfaction (Don't even get me started on how physical abuse damages the brain). Without this association of people = pleasure, the child doesn't care about how others feel towards it. After all, why should they? They don't base their self-worth on you. Praise? Yeah, whatever. Mad at me? Oh well. So it's no surprise that they can become a whirlwind of chaos one minute and then the epitome of serenity the next. Just like my dog. Poop, poop, poop, belly rub!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cleaning with RADs

I think one of the best things about Mondays is all the material my children give me to write about over the weekend. I count no less than 8 new topics that they gave me just in the past 2 days(not counting the others that popped into my head at random times). But I'm sure that's not necessarily a RAD/ODD thing, just a wonderful child thing. After all, if our children didn't amuse us so much, we might just get rid of them. Or not. Either way, they thankfully provide countless hours of entertainment.

Let's take cleaning for example. On Friday the girls had a few simple jobs. Straighten up the dining room and living room, then sweep and vacuum both, followed by cleaning of the bathrooms. We didn't even ask them to clean the grout or anything, just a swish and swipe kind of thing.

Clean Dining Room 2

Perhaps it's just me, but somehow I wouldn't call that "straightened up", although it looks like they may have possibly swept. But I was always under the impression that "clean" doesn't include dirty dishes on the table? Maybe it's just me. So let's just assume for a moment that for whatever reason, 3 hours wasn't enough time to get everything done and wander into the living room... ???

Clean Living Room 1

Uhhhh yeah. Hey I know.. let's push all the chairs together, knock over a few things, and call it clean!! Yay!

And the bathroom? I will spare you pictures of my toilet. Needless to say it was a little better (not much to knock over in there, and I don't think they eat in there so no dirty dishes). But... since there appears to be an obvious need for remedial cleaning skills, we spent all day Sunday doing just that. It took 3 or 4 times of sending them back (although it seemed like it was never ending) to get the jobs done right, but now we have really sparkly clean bathrooms (even the grout is done!), clean bedrooms (swept, mopped and vacuumed), dining room and living room are inhabitable once again, and the kitchen... well.. it's always a work in progress (I'm sure those of you with kids can understand how difficult it can be to ALWAYS have a sparkly kitchen). But the inside of the fridge got bleached and the laundry got done. But what should have taken a couple of hours somehow managed to take closer to 11... and do you think they will have "gotten it" by having to do it over and over and over until it was done right? I guess we'll see.... But given the way the RAD brain works (I think I've covered "steel wool thinking" in a previous post?), and the fact that this is only the hundredth time we've done this, I'm going to give it a resounding "NO". But I'm always happy and willing to be pleasantly surprised :)

So how do your kids clean? Do they actually get it right the first time around? Do you give them lists? Zones? Share your tips!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Step-Parents and RADs....

Let me start by saying I think step-parents have a difficult job to begin with. It doesn't matter how old the child is when the step-parent enters their life, there is always that underlying "you're not my mommy/daddy". I was one at one time, and I remember that chasm always being there (I have recently been in touch with my former step-daughter and am pleased to report she has grown into a fine young woman and is pretty awesome in her own right). Being the step-parent to a RAD brings it's own challenges.

I remember the first time my wife of 12 years met my RAD. She was 3 years old then (my daughter, not my wife!) and she hid behind my leg when I introduced them. I thought it was cute at the time, but it seems to have been an indicator of things to come. My wife has always been great with kids. She works with them and has always been able to reach them on their level, especially the younger ones. Not so with my RAD. RAD wanted nothing to do with her. It wasn't so much that she wasn't her mommy, but I now know it was more of a fear of getting close. After all, when one mommy ignores and neglects you before abandoning you (it didn't really happen quite like that, but in her head it did), why would you want another one? Why set yourself up for MORE pain? So their relationship was rocky from the start. When I would go to work, my wife would read to her, sing to her and try to play games with her, but all RAD wanted to do was go to pre-school. She didn't want the closeness.

I can't imagine how hard that must be for a person. I, at least, have some attachment with my RAD since I've been there for her since day 1 (well, ok.. since day 90 something since I was in the Navy and across the country for the first 3 months of her life), but no matter how hard my wife has tried, RAD has never let her in. Oh there are moments, glimpses if you will, of caring and a desire to be close expressed by RAD, but nothing that ever seems to stick. Yet my wife has stuck it out for over 13 years - never giving up, never giving in. But their relationship is strained. Wife feels rejected (which sucks even for non-RADs) and RAD takes that as "well I must not be good enough for you to keep trying", not really seeing that after 13 years of rejection, ANY person would have trouble giving it 100% all the time. But she does her best and I love her for it.

So if you're a step-parent, give your son or daughter a hug today. Keep trying - these kids really DO want to be loved (ALL kids, not just RADs), and there is no greater gift you can give them. You can teach them about sex, you can teach them how to drive, but when it all comes down to it in the end, what they will remember is the love you gave them.

So go and give your child a hug. Today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spinning in Circles

Last night I was in the kitchen cooking and I had everything under control. Until I didn't. I don't remember what the catalyst was, but suddenly I was literally spinning in circles and couldn't figure out what to do next. Everything had been going so smoothly and suddenly the salad was only half made, the meat was drying out, the vegetables were boiling over and I hadn't gotten the drinks together. The simple and most effective thing to do would be to turn off the stove (meat and veggies), pour the milk, and finish the salad. An easily accomplished to-do list. But I couldn't think. I felt like I had to do it all RIGHT NOW and couldn't figure out what to tackle first. I knew what needed to be done, I was just frozen (well, except for the spinning in circles thing).

Funny? Yeah, now. To me. But this is a common occurrence for RAD kids. They (well mine anyway) don't adapt well to change at all. An unexpected change in plans can send them into a mental spiral that they can't seem to easily stop. For me, I was able to stop, take a deep breath, and gather myself to complete dinner. For a RAD, there is no stopping - at least not easily. Many RADs suffered abuse (thankfully not mine), neglect and/or abandonment at a young age, and this was imprinted on their brain at a very low level. It is this part of their brain that takes over when they get overwhelmed, and while I was spinning from a minor fear of "what do I do now?", the fear that drives these kids is far deeper and more sinister than a burned meal. If you've ever been in a car accident, think about that split second right before impact. Were you able to calm yourself? Do you think you could have rationalized your fear away? Neither can these kids. They never learned how. And telling them to "relax" is like the driver of your car telling you "don't worry, you won't be hurt" - you're still going to flinch (or worse) on impact.

These are the times when our children need to be taken back to their youngest years and comforted as if they were that age again. It's the only way to help build those brain connections that are missing. This is when you just have to grab your child and hold them tight. It doesn't matter how big or how old they are, when they are in that state they are as young as they were when the 'bad things' happened to them.

I've gotten strange looks, and even stranger comments ("you should stop coddling that grown child!") when I have felt the need to grab and hold my teenager. It doesn't happen often, but you can literally feel them soften up when you do. My pre-teen? Not so much. Oh she needs it, but she'll fight it at first. And THAT gets horrified looks from people if we're out in public. People see me grabbing and holding a big girl while she's freaking out and they automatically assume I'm the cause of the crisis, when it's nothing like what they are imagining.

Those of you with RADs know what I'm talking about. Those of you without, perhaps you'll remember this post next time you see something 'odd' going on between a child and parent.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Preemptive Strike

With most RADs, unstructured time is quite possibly the biggest threat to a caretakers sanity, and Summer always presents a huge challenge. So with my RADs Day Treatment Center out for the Summer, we have had to create structure for 4 weeks. Not an easy task unless you have a ton of money you can throw around, which we don't. So we got her into a summer camp for kids with mental health issues, but even with that there is a full week of nothing. So we're sending her to the Boys and Girls club and crossing our fingers. Of course, having ones fingers crossed doesn't really stop the RAD from creating chaos and havoc anywhere she can, so we have to try and stay 2 steps ahead at all costs.

Enter CPS. I have always had a dislike for their agency. The caseworkers I met seemed to always view us parents as the problem, and totally believed RADs stories (she's NOT being "tortured" at home folks!!) but after 8 referrals in 4 years or so, we have finally gotten a decent caseworker who I really like. She took the time to look past the reports and get to know us and the RAD through interviews with us, RADs doctors, nurses and caseworkers in addition to the people at the Day Treatment Center. And the best part? She knows about RAD!! She actually "gets it".

So, running under the assumption that the staff at the Boys and Girls club are mandated reporters, I contacted our CPS caseworker to let her know RAD will be starting there. She was going to close our case but we decided to keep it open - not because there is any worry about abuse but because this way if anybody DOES file a report with CPS it will go directly to her and not somebody else unfamiliar with the situation. She will also contact the director at the B&G Club directly.

And next week, when RAD starts the summer camp, we'll do it all over again. A pain? Yeah, big time.. but as RAD parents, we have to always stay 2 steps ahead or we'll get trampled under the lies and "do-gooders". I've been there - it's no fun.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Children who suffer from RAD oftentimes are emotionally much younger than they are physically. Although this may not be quite as noticeable when they are 6, by the time they become teenagers it becomes very apparent. Let's take my 15 (almost 16) year old as an example. She's very bright, slightly above average IQ, does well with her schoolwork (when she wants to), and her last report card showed a 3.2 GPA. Yet, she can't be trusted on her own. And when she gets together with her 11 (almost 12) year old sister, you can expect some sort of disaster.

Friday afternoon the two of them were home alone for about 2 hours. One would think that a 15 year old and a 12 year old could stay out of trouble for 2 hours, but not these two. They decided, for some unknown reason, that it would be cool to open up a bag of unripe plums they had collected that morning at the park and throw them out our living room window at people walking by. I know! It makes you just shake your head in disbelief (well, it does me anyway).

But, that isn't enough. Oh no. Yesterday we were returning from the park and pulled into our driveway when another car pulled in behind us and screeched to a stop. I got out of the car and the other driver jumped out to tell me "somebody from your car threw something out and it hit my car". *sigh* Of course both girls denied throwing ANYTHING out the window but it was obvious they were lying. I profusely apologized to the guy and thankfully he was pretty cool about it, but the girls just sat in the back seat, refusing to acknowledge they had done anything, and of course there was no way they were going to get out and apologize (getting an apology from a RAD at the time it's deserved is... well... let's just say it's practically impossible. The way the RAD brain works is that when the RAD gets stressed - as in when something happens they should apologize for - they shut down. Completely. And you aren't going to get anything through to them at that point.). Luckily the guy accepted my "I'll deal with them, thank you" and left, because if he had demanded an apology it would have gotten really messy, really fast.

This, of course, means I have to give up my coveted front seat and start riding in the back so we can separate the two. It's the only way to keep them out of trouble it appears. Having them sit on their hands or keep their hands on the back of the seat in front of them will have to come later. In the meantime, it's like having two small children in large bodies....

Friday, July 15, 2011


As RAD parents, we find ourselves fighting daily just to keep on top of things, and it doesn't help with the people who are supposed to be helping us are completely clueless. A couple of days ago I took the final step to get the most recent CPS case closed by meeting with a caseworker at the Homeless PreNatal program for an exit interview. Now, I'm neither homeless NOR pregnant, but apparently it was reported to CPS that I was out drinking and doing drugs while my RAD sat locked in her room starving (did I ever mention my daughter is a master of manipulation at any cost?). Caseworker asked how my RAD was doing and I explained she was doing much better now that she's in a Day Treatment program and can no longer get away with her games. Caseworker gave me a quizzical look and I told her my RAD has RAD. She had no idea what that was??!!? I would think that a caseworker who deals with at risk youth and their families would at least have heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder, but she hadn't. So I had her fire up her browser and go to where I showed her the symptoms of RAD. She was shocked, especially when I explained that my RAD exhibits 17 of the 20 symptoms to one degree or another, and that this is something we've been fighting for years.

At that point the discussion turned from my alleged issues to RAD children and how difficult it is to parent them. We easily spent 30 minutes on that subject alone and I think (hope?) that by the time I left she was curious and interested enough to learn more about the condition.

I find it somewhat distressing that even the "experts" who work in a field where they come into contact with high-risk children regularly can be so uninformed about something that can cause such upheaval and problems for their clients. Looks like us, as RAD parents, now have to add "Educator" to our ever growing list of "professions" that we have to be good at just to raise our children. But if we take it upon ourselves to educate others, those that come after us may be able to get the help we wish we had at an earlier age. So carry around your notebook of notes, bookmark those URLs, and never be afraid to question the "experts". After all, nobody is an expert on your child like you are!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Isolation and lonliness

Parenting a child with special needs can sometimes be a lonely and isolating job, especially when that child has traits that tend to alienate others. People with non-special needs children rarely understand (or even seem to WANT to understand) what we go through, and so they don't really make the best people to go to when you're having a problem at home, which for those of us with children of trauma is pretty much all the time! So with nobody really to talk to, it's not uncommon for parents to feel like they're doing this all on their own.

Even parents who don't suffer from any mental or emotional issues of their own feel this from time to time. But if the parent has any problems of their own, it can double those feelings of isolation. Myself for example, I have been diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depression, and mild Bi-Polar issues, so when it hits, it REALLY hits. This morning for example, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed with my RAD and just hold her - not get up for work, not do much of anything really. But as adults, we can't just shut down, and especially us Trauma-Mommas/RAD-Dads - we know more than anybody that life isn't going to wait for us to feel better so we soldier on. Which brings me to the point of this whole rambling mess. If you're parenting a child of trauma, you need to not try to go it alone. Find out if there is a support group in your area (surprisingly, there aren't ANY support groups for RAD parents in San Francisco? We have to travel down the peninsula once a month) and get involved. If there aren't any, perhaps consider starting one if you're in an urban area where it's likely there are other parents like you. Lastly, consider stopping by the Attachment Disorder Support Group online. It's not just a bunch of parents whining about their problems, but a group of people that "get it", and it's frequently my first stop online in the mornings. It's other parents who have either lived it, or are living it, and there is no shortage of great advice, helpful hints, compassion and, possibly most importantly, lots and lots of humor. Really, where else can you discuss things such as children who eat strange things or can't remember to add their own clothes when doing laundry, or even who do their laundry in the microwave without getting strange looks? Certainly not the PTA!!

So if you haven't checked them out, do yourself a favor and swing by. It can't cure your child, but they may just save your sanity.

Monday, July 11, 2011

When 2 hours feels like 6....

Well this weekend was definitely an adventure. Saturday evening we took the dogs to the park near our house. It's not a large park, but it's not small either. We first took them to the dog run where they ran and played a bit while ODD and RAD played with the other dogs. Wife and I decided to walk around a bit so we called the dogs and both daughters knew we were leaving and saw which direction we were going. As a little background, we have had problems in the past with ODD and RAD taking off and just going to the playground without telling us and we have gone over and over with them how they need to stay within earshot so that when we're ready to leave we don't have to go looking for them. About a week ago we couldn't find them so we left and went home (it's probably one of the safer neighborhoods in SF so we were comfortable with them finding their way home). It's only about 10 blocks and they eventually showed up after realizing we were gone. Of course it was our fault that we had left, not theirs that they had gone out of range, but that's how they think. So anyway, we slowly sauntered around the park and lake before heading towards the car. We looked and called for the girls but couldn't find them, and I even went back to the dog run to see if they were still there. They weren't. So we left.

As we were leaving, we stopped by the playground to see if they were there and they weren't so we continued on home. 30 minutes passed and we started looking out the window for them.. then an hour passed and they still weren't home so I decided to go back to the park to look for them. Didn't see them on the streets heading home so I started to get worried. The park is about 6 blocks long and I pulled in about the middle to see if they were at the card shack (where we had seen some teenage boys earlier) and saw RAD leaning against the wall with ODD standing behind her. I had to drive another block to find a parking spot and when I went back over there I guess they had seen the car because they were right there. And they were angry. They said they had been looking for us this whole time... really? They noticed the car was gone and didn't realize we had left? They also claimed that, even though we knew at least 4 or 5 people at the dog run, they never once thought about borrowing a phone to call us. Hmmmmmm.... they *always* borrow phones to call... something didn't seem right. Got them home and separated them to ask them what happened. Different story from each one of course, so the best we can figure is RAD thought one of the teenage boys was cute, ODD convinced her to go flirt with him. So they hung out with these boys, showing off for them. RAD is really tall for her age (5'11") and when she "shows off" she acts like a 10 year old which can be pretty embarrassing. Then ODD somehow talked RAD into asking this boy for his phone number. We're pretty sketchy about what happened next, but the boys left and next time we go to the park, it won't be the dogs on the leashes....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Week at Grandmas.....?

I don't know whether to be happy or scared that my mother has agreed to take RAD for a week while we get some respite. On one hand I'm ecstatic that we will get such a huge respite (usually only get a day or two per year). On the other hand, even a single night away requires a weeks worth of "repair". She had one night away last weekend and it's now Thursday and we're STILL dealing with fall-out. Thankfully, we have a close working relationship with her caseworker at the Day Treatment Center and they are very helpful with getting RAD back on track, but any crack in the plan that RAD can find she will abuse it. So it's a lot of stress, time, attention and phone calls that go into 'post visit care' so to speak.

When discussing the possibility of a visit, I had a good long chat with grandma about RADs issues. She has always been of the frame of mind that it's just bad parenting and RAD just needs more freedom to be herself. Which of course is exactly NOT what she needs (unless frequent trips to the ER are your idea of good parenting). So I have just under 1 month to educate her. Whether or not she will actually listen is a whole other story...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I was going to update today (I try to do it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), but another person has already said everything I was going to say, and said it better.  Please read Tracy Ds blog at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Apology? Don't hold your breath....

OK so I get it.  I really do.  Few people really like to admit their mistakes, but we do.  If we cause an accident, we apologize, fix it, and move on.  So what drives a RAD to not only not apologize but take things so personally?  I honestly don't know if this is a RAD trait or not, but I wouldn't be surprised to find it is.  The other day, on the morning we were to go camping for the night so we would be in a good place to watch fireworks for the 4th of July (San Francisco is usually too foggy to bother so we decided to head down the coast to Carmel for the night) and we had just spent the day prior doing some deep housecleaning.  We were finishing up so we could get out, and ODD and RAD were returning things to where they belong when RAD dropped a 40 year old piece of handcarved Bavarian art and it broke.  It's fixable, but that isn't the point.  When my wife saw it, she didn't yell or criticize, but she was understandably upset.  Ask yourself, what would you do if you dropped something valuable and it broke?  Personally, I would pick up the pieces, give it to the person it belonged to, apologize, and offer to find a way to get it fixed if possible.  RAD? Not so.  Rather, she got huffy and and developed a bit of an attitude over it.  When it became obvious that no apology was going to be forthcoming, wife told RAD to leave the room, saying she didn't want to see her right then.  RAD somehow in her head turned this into an affront on her and stood in the hallway with her arms crossed and all pi**ed off as if somebody had actually broken something of hers!

Personally, I think she was mad at herself, and perhaps she can really only experience one emotion at a time?  She certainly does see things very simply at times.  But she didn't seem to see any reason to apologize since it was an accident (isn't that the best time to apologize?).  Or perhaps she felt justified in not apologizing it, after all it's not her REAL mom, who she has abandonment issues with.  But the fact that she became almost defiant over this is something I just can't grasp.  What was going on in her head that caused her to react this way?  I wish I had all the answers (or even a couple of them!)

Friday, July 1, 2011


OK.  I know it's not uncommon for kids of all types to have 'selective memory' as my parents always called it. I know with a mind full of all sorts of things, it's easy to forget some things, especially unimportant details.  But I was always under the impression that if something is a habit, it's just something you do, mostly without thinking about it.  It doesn't take long for something to become a habit.. I think I read somewhere it takes 40 days (or thereabouts) to establish one.  So if there is something you have done every day for 12 y ears, you would think that it would almost second nature.  Well apparently not so with RADs.  I've spoken with parents whose RADs have forgotten all sorts of things that you wouldn't imagine.  Such as how to go to the bathroom, or how to get dressed.  So I suppose it should come as no surprise when my RAD leaves for school without her blood glucose testing kit. Something she has used 8-10 times per day for the past 12 years.  But she did just that.  All she has to do in the morning is get up, eat breakfast (often prepared for her), get dressed, brush her teeth, and make sure she has her kit when she leaves for school.  A routine that shouldn't take more than 20 minutes (especially if she's not making her own breakfast!), yet she can barely manage to accomplish it in an hour, and sometimes that's not even enough time (such as today).

The brains of RADs are wired differently than non-RADs.  That much is a given.  And it's never more evident than when you watch them do things that seem completely linear to us.  But their brains don't work in linear fashion much of the time.  One parent called it "steel wool thinking" because their thoughts are all over the place.  One dad mentioned his daughter would take 6 hours to mow their lawn, even though he could do it in under 1 hour.  He said he sat there and watched her do it one day, and instead of going in straight lines back and forth like most people would, she was all over the place zig-zagging and weaving back and forth.  That gives a pretty good picture of how their thoughts work - it's never A-B-C but A-B-A-D-F-B-C.

Sometimes I wonder how these kids ever get anything done at all!