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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


If there's one thing I will never truly understand, it's the self-sabotage that seems prevalent among children with RAD.  I've seen it time and time again, and it is truly heartbreaking to watch.  Recently my daughter turned 17 (yesterday in fact).  As one of her birthday presents we (reluctantly) agreed to let her go to a concert with a friend.  At night.  In another town 30 minutes away.  She was soooooo excited.  We had only one caveat - she prove to us over the next 3 days that she could be responsible enough to go.  We didn't think that would be difficult.  She HAD been doing great.  Finished schools with almost straight A's, had been working hard to get her first job, and been relatively pleasant to be around in general.

Until we said we would allow her to go.  The *very next day* she had a job interview, and then was to go to the library afterwards, where my wife would pick her up.  She was told if she changes her plans just to let us know so we knew where to find her if we needed to.  She changed her plan but didn't bother to tell us.  We had no idea until my wife showed up at the library and the mother of the girl who our daughter had been hanging out with all afternoon came out and said Hello.  Since they had never met before, my wife was taken by surprise, and when she asked our daughter what was going on, she said "Mom I just talked to you on the phone" with a little eye shift.... apparently, the other mother was under the impression our daughter had called us and gotten permission to go.  But she hadn't.

Then today, she was supposed to go to her "prep day" at the High School she is transitioning to next week.  But even though I woke her up before I left for work, and called 2 hours before the event was set to begin, she didn't manage to get up and get there on time.  These are, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps small things to some.  But to us, they are just more of the same - whenever we try to give her just a little more freedom, she shows us time and time again that she isn't able to handle it.

But she can.  We know she can.  She has gone weeks with no problems.  The only difference there was that she wasn't looking forward to something like going to a concert.  No reason to self-sabotage.
Sometimes I think this is one of the harder things to deal with.  Knowing that deep down she doesn't feel ready to handle some very basic things that many 17 year olds take for granted makes me very sad.  Sure, I'm disappointed that she won't get to go (of course, she likely thinks I'm happy about it - she has said as much in other situations) but if we can't trust her for 2 hours, I'm certainly not ok with her going to a large concert in another town with a friend.  Does that make me mean?  Sometimes I feel like the meanest parent in the world.  But with her lack of boundaries and history of self-destructive behavior, we need to be able to trust her.  And that just hasn't happened yet... :(

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Looming Transition

Soon the transition begins.  One more week of DTC, then a break for one week, then the fall session begins.  And with that comes the transition to the general High School  It's only 2 classes a day (after lunch), and after speaking with another parent whose daughter recently transitioned, it sounds like they have good support in place, but my daughter didn't do so well at the general High School before.  So we are undoubtedly anxious.  My daughter definitely has it in her to succeed if she chooses, it's just that she doesn't have the best history of making the best choices.  As with most children afflicted with RAD, it's all about the instant gratification, the NOW - consequences be damned.  Those can be dealt with later.  And that puts an incredible amount of strain on a relationship, no matter who is involved.  Few things are as painful as loving somebody who doesn't care about their self.  Certainly much progress has been  made over the past couple of years - even with the move.  Definitely we are happy to get her out of her current program where she seems to have stagnated.  But the fear that things will return to where they were before is very real.  The police, the social workers, CPS breathing down our necks - all because of the choices made by a teen. 

She still enjoys playing the pity card - and that's what got us into trouble to begin with.  When you're a kid, what better way to get attention from people than to tell them your parents "starve" and "torture" you?  Although I think she has come a long way, she still wants people to pity her - and that could lead us right down that same road. 

But it's a chance we'll have to take in order for her to continue healing.  She doesn't deal well with change - even little change.  If things such as changing seats at the dinner table can set her off, changing High Schools is going to be no piece of cake.  If all she does is return to cutting, is it still a success?  In our case I'm going to declare that a win...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Job Corps?

Well she turns 17 in a couple of weeks.  I can't believe it.  I remember being 17 and my life was so much different than hers.  My life wasn't perfect and I wasn't exactly a "good kid" (was going through a lot and probably had full blown PTSD by that point), but I had more freedom and was more responsible.  It's not that she can't - she just won't.  We've tried and tried to get her out there and get a job, to have friends, to DO things, but she seems perfectly comfortable where she's at - which is home, with us, all the time.  Not content.  Not by a long shot.  But comfortable.  Comfortable enough where she's not willing to make the effort required to change things.

This doesn't make us feel overly confident for when she turns 18.  Will she be ready to live on her own?  I think the answer to that is a resounding NO.  There are certain aspects of her life, such as diabetes management, where I know she'll do fine.  It may take a while for her to get into the swing of it, but I know that she knows what to do.  It's the other things... getting a job, paying bills, continuing her education - all the "adult" things that she has no clue or desire for.

Enter Job Corps.  We hope.  We've started the process to get her in there.  We don't qualify under their income requirements, but they make exceptions for people with disabilities - I'm hoping between the type-1 diabetes, the erbs palsy in her left arm, and her emotional issues that she will qualify.  We just aren't sure yet.  I'm hoping her DTC will be able to assist with getting her in as well.  They should - they've done it for other children and if anybody should be able to weasel her in it would be social workers and counselors. 

Not only would this move her out of her comfort zone, but it would give her the life skills that we've been trying to foster in her.  Of course, as parents, nothing we say or do makes any difference - we're the bad guys.  So hopefully when it comes from somebody else it will make a difference?  I think it will.  She'll be forced to be responsible for herself and that's what she needs.

The beauty of it is they have a Culinary Arts program - which she is really excited about.  Did I say "excited"?  I guess I should say "interested in a nonplussed kind of way" since she rarely gets "excited" about anything.  I think I'm more excited about this than she is.  But she has a friend from her DTC that is there so at least she'll know somebody (assuming they end up in the same place).

Who knows... either way, it'll be an adventure she will carry around with her for the rest of her life.. with any luck it will be a positive, life changing adventure...