I search the web a lot. I look for RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) topics. I find many educational sites. I find sites by parents of RAD. Some are asking for help. Some are about their RAD story. I truly have empathy for struggling parents. I was there. I too was “pulling my hair out”. There were fewer resources at the time we adopted our child. He was traumatized more than we realized. At the same time, I had lots of education and had worked as a social worker for Arkansas DHS-DCFS. I thought I could help a child. Even though I had been a foster care worker, I still was not familiar enough with this matter. While helping a child was a noble deed and our intentions were good, we were still surprised. The term Reactive Attachment disorder may not have been coined yet. I do not remember anything mentioned about RAD in all the classes I took. They spoke of attachment perhaps. They spoke of bonding.
Years later, after many a ‘trial and tribulation’ with our child, did I learn more about RAD. Our child certainly had all the characteristics. I was brain washed by all the literature, I can admit now. At the time, it was all I had and we did the best we could with the information available. Today, I wish I could shout from the roof tops and tell everyone that the traditional methods do not work. Nevertheless, just like myself years ago, most people are not ready to hear it. Yet I know that they too are doing the best they can with the information available to them. I have compassion for them.
I wish I could have learned the new ways sooner but that was not the case. I am thankful, however, that I was eventually led down the road of understanding to understand the common methods of treating RAD do not work. They did not work with my child or the multitude of children I have worked with over the years. I am truly convinced the traditional methods are not love-based or based in compassion. Notice I said compassion, not pity. So, with that being said, I must also have compassion for myself as I reflect back to recall the harsh words or techniques I used in the past.
The traditional methods of viewing the child’s symptoms are misleading. The traditional methods try to “fight fire with fire”. However, instead of heading off the dangerous flames by getting rid of the fuel ahead of it….they just seem to put fuel on the fire then fan the flames. The child’s seeming need to control is met by firmer control from the parents. The child’s seeming need to be oppositional is met with parents demanding instant compliance. The lack of eye contact is met with parents insisting the child look them straight in the eye. It seems like one power is trying to overshadow the other power, yet it never seems to end. The fire just gets further and further out of control. No wonder the DSM-IV describes parents as angry. The methods promote their anger all the while saying, “it is for the best”.
My goodness! Parents get so desperate for peace in their homes; they are willing to do what they are told. What are they to believe? What are they to do? Who am I to say one thing or another? I have been there.