Thursday, March 22, 2012

RAD moments

OK, since RAD kids are always "against" their primary caregiver, here are a few random moments in our household:

I say, "Oh, I better go put on some sunscreen, so I don't get sunburned."  Child runs upstairs, only steps ahead of me, grabs the 2 bottles of sunscreen, smiles, and runs away with them.

Her mother (that's me) walks up to her and says, "I love you," and her response is, "...whatever..."

Her father walks up to her and says, "How about a hug before I leave?"  She stands there, without moving a muscle, while her father gives her a hug.  She returns no affection at that time.

She loves babies!  Whether it's a baby doll, or a real baby, or even a photo of a baby, she has a sweet love for them.  I think it's because of her issues that happened when she was a baby.  It's her way of coping with the strong emotions of her losses when she was a baby.

She responds really well to calm, quiet, cool and collected adults.  If an adult is emotional, whether happy, sad, excited, angry or scared,  she tends to react in a negative way.

"Don't sing!"  "Don't dance!"  "Stop!" to me, when I am silly and having fun.  I could understand her reaction more if we were in public at the time, because she might feel embarrassed, but, this is in my own kitchen!

 Can you relate to any of these?  Let me know that I'm not the only adoptive parent who goes through these things.  ;)

Friday, March 16, 2012

RAD kids keep everything

I was cleaning my daughter's room, and found tons of things that were sheer garbage.  Not just the fast food restaurant toys, but truly garbage:  candy wrappers, used tissues, used dryer sheets, empty snack bags, broken crayons and more.  My initial thought was, "Why does she keep this garbage?"

But my second thought was, "Because she's RAD."  Kids who have weak attachments with their caregivers, no matter the reason, have a very difficult time letting go of physical things, even if it is garbage.  Somewhere deep in her emotional soul is a fear that something will be lacking, or taken away, or missing.  It is an emotional memory of loss.  And, to avoid that painful feeling once again, she keeps everything.

Now, don't get me wrong.  She seems to enjoy the cleanliness of her room, when I go through and throw out the garbage.  But for her to throw it away is difficult. 

Can you relate?

What is RADical Parenting?

RAD stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder, and it is a common set of behaviors displayed by (mostly) adopted children.  It could also affect any child who has had attachment interruption issues in early childhood, such as, the mother was in the hospital for several weeks after delivery. 

When normal attachment happens between a child and parent, the child feels safe, loved and secure.  When there is an adoption, even if it is at birth, there is a chance that the child will have some features of RAD.  The most common features of RAD are:

  • Poor trust from child to adult
  •  Lying
  • Stealing
  • Manipulative behaviors

The ICD-10 description states:

  • markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts (e.g., the child is avoidant or unresponsive to care when offered by caregivers or is indiscriminately affectionate with strangers);[36]
  • the disturbance is not accounted for solely by developmental delay and does not meet the criteria for pervasive developmental disorder;
  • onset before five years of age (there is no age specified before five years of age at which RAD cannot be diagnosed);[36]
  • a history of significant neglect;
  • an implicit lack of identifiable, preferred attachment figures

In my previous blog post, I wrote out the DSM-IV criteria for RAD.  

RAD described by DSM-IV

So, as a parent of an adopted child, I know a thing or two about RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).  It is a set of behaviors that make parenting very difficult.  The following is a list of criteria for RAD:

Markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts, beginning before age 5 years old, such as:

- failure to initiate or respond in developmentally appropriate fashion to most social interactions

- excessively inhibited

- hypervigilant

 - highly ambivalent and contradictory responses (sometimes drawing close to caregivers, other times avoiding caregivers)

- resistance to comforting

 - frozen watchfulness

 - excessive familiarity with relative strangers

 - lack of selectivity in choice of attachment figures

Adopted children come to us sometimes with severe abuse and/or neglect in their background, or frequent changes in foster care.  Other times, there is some kind of disturbance in the attachment process with the main caregiver (usually the mother), such as extended hospitalization before age 5, of either the mother or the child.

Children with RAD, technically, have no mental retardation (IQ lower than 70).

This blog will serve as  more of a "what to do," since I am all about practical solutions.  Please feel free to leave your comments, concerns and questions.  But, please be aware, that as a Parenting Coach, I cannot give too much advice away for free.  If there is need for extended phone counseling, please visit my website at this link: