So I’m getting off the elevator at work and I run into a coworker who works from home. He has his son with him, who I never knew had Down Syndrome. This got me to thinking. There are far more children out there with special needs than we, as people, have any idea about. I don’t know the statistics for other special needs children, but while researching attachment issues I did run across these according to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study by Kaiser Permanente & the CDC:
11% emotionally abused
30% physically abused
20% sexually abused
13% witnessed mothers being battered
23.5% exposed to family alcohol abuse
18.8% exposed to family mental illness
4.9% exposed to family drug abuse
While I’m sure there is plenty of overlap between the groups (i.e. children who witness their mothers being battered are likely physically abused themselves), the numbers are still pretty startling to me. Of course, not all children in those situations will grow up with attachment issues – far from it in fact. But children who do NOT grow up with such exposure are much less likely to develop issues.
I was reading some other statistics that claim approximately 50% of adopted children suffer attachment issues to some degree, and they are joined by 28% of the children in foster care. I don’t remember where I saw those statistics but regardless, the point is they are out there. Chances are you’ve met them. If you haven’t met them, you likely know their parents but just don’t know it.
So if your child does have attachment issues, rest assured you aren’t alone. If yours doesn’t have attachment issues, you’ve most likely met one (or his/her parents). If you think you haven’t, think again – most children with attachment issues appear just as normal as other kids to outsiders. Remember, RADs can (and frequently will) appear superficially charming to strangers and are often so manipulative the adult will never know what hit them (we call it ‘RADsnacking’ since they are so adept at chewing you up and spitting you out when done with you).
My point? If you know of a parent whose child(ren) seem out of control, offer your support. Don’t criticize, and don’t judge. You don’t know what they are going through. Perhaps you can offer to babysit for them (All RAD parents need respite!), or just go help with shopping or whatever. All special needs parents who are able to occasionally step back and regroup are in a far better position to effectively parent their children, which benefits us all in the long run.