Beyondpondering's Weblog

Northwest Arkansas Therapy

Beyond Scared March 26, 2015

I found this somewhere else, but so clearly expresses the same point of view.  Susan

Beyond Scared.

by:  Deborah A. Novo

surviveTeenYears (2)It is natural to feel apprehensive and scared navigating through some of life’s challenges and expectations. Much of the time, we can do this with confidence and competence. However, scared doesn’t begin to identify the depth and breadth of the feeling that is experienced when our children with Reactive Attachment Disorder anticipate or perceive abandonment. The feeling could be more accurately described as panic and terror.

People outside the child’s inner circle may find it hard to believe the degree of distress and impairment that is observed and the myriad of triggers. One of our sons purposefully failed a school year so he wouldn’t have to graduate. His belief was that if he graduated he would “be deserted and on his own.”

Our other son and his girlfriend break up and he is in terror mode feeling like an infant again with no one to care for him. Despite their innumerable breakups they have never been “broken up” more than minutes as he frantically begs her not to leave.

When our children were younger triggers included me leaving the house to get groceries, them standing in the outfield during their baseball game, feeling rejected by classmates, spending respite at their grandparents among many, many other examples.

It is essential that mental health professionals, teachers and others involved understand the scope of emotion that real or perceived abandonment can provoke. Fearing abandonment on a chronic basis changes your brain and has significant, potentially life long, implications in creating connection and stability in relationships, academic success, sustaining employment and keeping oneself emotionally regulated and happy.

As parents, it is important to be prepared and respond appropriately. I have learned, through the years, that the best support you can give is a consistent, calm and empathetic response during these, often volatile, reactions. Anything else fuels their panic. There are tools that our family uses with the intention of balancing and healing their whole being so they can learn to soothe themselves and use their reasoning brain. Strategies such as yoga (free online yoga classes for all ages and levels at, Emotional Freedom Technique (free and easy instruction at and doing Brain Gym exercises are a few fun and very effective examples. When our sons were younger we would leave notes with the respite provider, to be given periodically, while we were away from our home. The notes had simple phrases that said, “we believe in you” and “you are safe and loved.” We still do this, but we now text these messages. I have placed Power Ranger stickers on my youngest son’s chest prior to his baseball games to remind him of the “power” within him. We recently resurrected his favorite stuffed version of that Power Ranger to help this now older teen. We continue to engage in quiet activities such as drawing, board games, Reiki and lots of hugs to minimize their intense reactions and promote their attachment, safety and self worth.

I have discovered that every experience, ultimately, has its benefits. For me, I have developed infinite compassion, advanced problem solving skills, articulate boundaries, self care and advocacy skills for my family. When parenting our special children there is no shortage of opportunity to practice growing in wisdom and love!



Why are there no support groups? November 24, 2014

“Why are there no support groups?”, I was asked by one mother of a RAD kid….

I quickly retorted….Because there is too much embarrassment and shame….No adoptive parent adopts with this in mind……
They are too embarrassed because their child is always a perfect angel at someone else’s house…
No one knows about the anger directed towards you; the yelling, screaming directed towards you; and the pain involved.
They are too ashamed because they get so many critical looks reflecting that they should “just spank the kid”;
or give more consequences.
Or they get looks and comments which communicate that something must be something WRONG WITH YOU, as a parent, that you can not control your child.
Or just the opposite…..
They get too many looks or comments which communicate…
you are too hard on him, or all he needs is love;
but she is always so polite at my house…you just misunderstand him…..

I communicated to the mom to not be ashamed or embarrassed, for we are dealing with the one percent of the children, which nothing seems to work.
But there is hope if you are willing to try something different…and I would bet you are…or you would not be calling me now.



2. Ethics?

What are some of the considerations in selecting a therapist? Allow me to first stress ethics. No matter if it is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker or any other Licensed Psychotherapist, each has a code of ethics they are expected to follow for their respective state licensing board. A code of ethics helps determine appropriate behaviors for professionals. Feel free to go to the State Board to gain information. A code of ethics is designed to protect the public and the therapist. You can also learn if any disciplinary actions have been taken toward any particular therapist.


A therapist is one who is to help you. To do that they need to listen, be kind, and empathetic. However, if a client has never had anyone listen to them, be kind, or empathetic to them, the client might confuse this unconditional positive regard with an emotional connection. It is the therapist’s job to set boundaries and not get involved emotionally with the client in a sexual manner. Now since you are aware of this, what can you do?


You need to “work on yourself” rather than get mixed up in an emotional relationship. Nevertheless, if your therapist is a good therapist, you should be able to bring up this topic in session and work through the matter so you can learn to develop healthy attachments and relationships in your personal life. Love yourself enough to not confuse kindness with a potential sexual relationship. Your first responsibility is to yourself and your own personal growth. Focus on your own growth.   Remember you want change for the better, not more confusion.


You can do this!



STILL PONDERING August 10, 2013

Photo on 2013-07-11 at 14.45 #3

I am still pondering all this time.  

I have had many different experiences.  

I still ponder.  

What do people really want out of therapy?  

You tell me.  



I go back to the same old questions:  Is it working for you?  Is doing what those so called experts say, really working?  When is it time to try something different?

You will just try to defend yourself out of fear someone will think you are a bad mom.  Or maybe you will just to defend yourself out of fear that it might be true.  You really do enjoy getting away from them.

The peace you feel when he is away seems to validate the assumption that it is “He” who is the problem.  There is something much much deeper going on.

The idea that RAD child should be treated differently is a start.  They have a developmental wound which cannot be helped to heal with more chores or strong sitting.

They have a developmental wound which cannot be helped to heal by being sent away.

A couple years ago,  I was working with a mother and  young daugther.  There was never any problems at school.  The problems occured at home.   I give this mom a round of applause for taking responsibility for her behavior years ago.  She left the children.  Yes she had her reasons…… but from a child’s point of view it was abandonment.  “I was not good enough for you to stick around.”  “I was not lovable enough for you to want to stay with me”.

We had a breakthrough mom said.    I was amazed at something else.

We were all sitting on the floor.  There was soft comforting lighting rather than glaring florescent tubes.  I was verbalizing what a young child might feel if a parent went away.  Little by little the child leaned her head on her mother’s shoulder.  Little by little the child wrapped her arms around mother’s neck.  Little by little, the child crawled into mother’s lap.  Little by little, mother cradled the girl in her arms and started rocking her body back and forth.  The girl nestled her head into mom’s bosom and allowed herself to be rocked.

I kept quiet and allowed the two to rest in each other’s arms for a good long time.

I whispered to mom,  “How old was she when you left?”  Mom whispered, “One and a half.”

The behavior of the child was reminiscent of the age of her trauma.

I helped mom see the developmental issues going on.

A rocking chair and more rocking at home……………. was the recommendation.

This addressed the heart of the matter, not just the acting out behavior.  Work on the heart of the matter and the acting out will subside.

These kids need even more rocking, more comforting, more compassion, more empathy….  Or at least just as much.   Because they are RAD does that mean they should be treated differently when it comes to Tender Loving Care?   They need it even more because they have a develpment lag in that department.

If what you are doing is working for you….by all means…..continue with what you think is right.  However,  begin reflecting on how you can address the heart of the matter rather than just manage the behavior.



Does it often feel like you are continually talking to yourself whenever you are trying to teach your child?  Whatever you are saying is simply going in one ear and out the other?  If you’ve said it once you have said it a million times. ?   AND STILL THEY DON’T  ” GET IT”. 

Well there is a reason for it……. and if you understand this reason ,, you could actually get more done with less talking.   You don’t have to drive yourself in circles, repeating the old thing, trying to change the same old behavior. 

Based on neuro-science, the right side of the brain has the ability to override and short circuit the left side of the brain.  The right side of the brain is the emotional side.  The left side of the brain is the logical rational side,,,,to put is simply. 

If the left side of the brain can be short circuited by the right side, no wonder all our explanations, talking, corrections, or discussions do not seem to work.

Our logical rational explanations, meant to impact our child’s left side of the brain, are not reaching their intended target. 


The right side of the brain overrides the left.  Emotions override logic and learning.

Right brain has greater influence than left brain.   RIGHT, greater than LEFT, therefore decreased logic & learning.

Children do not have the ability to learn and use logic if their emotional state is not addressed first.  Likewise, we do not have the ability to reach their logic and learning until we address their emotions and feelings.

Why don’t we listen to our own  words of wisdom.   Be logical.  Be reasonable.  It makes no sense at all to use logic on our kids if science has shown that logic does not work if emotional aspects are neglected. 

So how logical are we?  Maybe our kids are smarter than we are.  We keep trying logic when it has been proven not to work.  Now that is irrational. 

To keep doing the same old thing expecting different results.   Isn’t that the definition of CRAZY?

 We are in the habit of talking talking talking….explaining explaining, explaining. 

We lecture, make demands, and expect our kids to comply.  We expect from our kids what they are not able to give us until we see through to their emotions.

What do we do then?  Put into words what our adult wisdom knows

For example, your friend comes over,  slams the door, and heavily plants themselves on your couch. 

What can you presume from what just happened with your friend.  Your friend is upset, something bad happened, something is wrong……?  Probably.   

We would sit and wait.  Perhaps offer a cola or cup of tea.  And we would listen.  

If our kids did the very same thing…. we have a tendency to tell them “don’t slam the door!”  Where is the compassion we would naturally give to our friends?

Now is the time we could start changing habits, turn over a new leaf, and try something different. 

Now that is logical…….try something different for different results. 

Listen instead of lecture.  Sit instead of stand.  Be quiet instead of boss.  Consider emotions instead of demands.  Give compassion instead of giving directions.    Then little by little,,,when emotions are soothed and calmed, suggestions and ideas can get through.  Little by little, understanding will come to the left side of the brain.  But only when the right side of the brain understood.   

Give compassion to emotions.  Save yourself time, energy, and stress.


Relationships During These Hard Times December 10, 2008

“All we need is love. All we need is love, love………Love is all we need” (Beatles).  Is this true?  Really?

“I love you,,,,,,but I am not In Love, with you.”  “I love him but I don’t like him.”  What ?

“I’ll just die if I can’t have those jeans !”  Hugh ?

So, …..what then, do you need?

Time and patience for a start. How about giving honesty, dependability, determination, kindness, fairness, courtesy, cooperation, trustworthiness, and generosity? All of these can help sustain us during these financial hard times, as well as, help build meaningful long-term relationships.  Let’s take a look at things. Society has made so many improvements. Life is more convenient: Fast foods, drive thru’s, microwaves, dishwashers, and the like. We are so accustomed to “convenience”, we lose our patience if we have to give a little extra time at a restaurant. No wonder we get such a big surprise when we have to give time to another; or be patient

with another person’s like or dislikes; or even be patient with another person’s imperfections.We have never really had to wait, save up, or do without. Delayed gratification is almost a thing of the past. Perhaps the great benefit of today’s economy is that we are forced to realize that “relationships” are the only meaningful and lasting thing……… if we look at life Existentially or Spiritually. However, because life is so much easier than even a decade ago, many people have not learned to “press on” during times of momentary difficulty, as our historical counterpart once did. No I do not want to go back to the “good old days” when it comes to convenience. However, there are valuable principles which are worthwhile to carry with us from the past into posterity.

I was surprised when researchers came up with the term: “Benign Deprivation”. It is the idea of allowing oneself or one’s children to do without something, if that something, is not critical to sustaining life. In other words, if doing without an item, has a benign effect, it is okay to do without it.

The idea of “Benign Deprivations” still makes me chuckle because I have made it a point to do without a lot of stuff. My husband had to force me to get a cell phone. You see, I grew up around my grandparents. They lived through the Great Depression. Consequently they were fugal, never used credit, and saved tin foil. I did get caught up in materialism and conspicuous consumption when I was younger, but later sought out meaning and purpose.

We really have to ask ourselves if something is truly a need, as compared to a want. True, we may think we are going to die if we can’t have a particular pair of shoes. We may even tell ourselves….our children need a particular pair of jeans to fit into that popular crowd. Nevertheless, is it really life threatening to do without it? Maybe we need to count our blessings?

An over abundance of things can make ourselves and our kids greedy, spoiled, and demanding. Generosity and kindness can be lost unless we refocus back to positive character values.

Will we, as a society, allow material goods to replace character? Is “Benign Depravation” a new way to reminding us not to spoil ourselves and our kids with material goods? Is it a reminder for us to still value old fashioned character such as honesty, dependability, determination, kindness, fairness, courtesy, cooperation, trustworthiness, and generosity?

Relationships are necessary for life. Therefore, promoting, nurturing, and tending to the growth of quality character in ourselves and our kids, is beneficial for love and lasting relationships. Time is what our kids really want from us anyway. You too, probably.

These economic tight times need to be embraced and valued as a time to reinforce those things which are more lasting than temporal materialism. It can also bring out the best in us. Love, honor, dependability, determination, kindness, courtesy, trustworthiness, generosity, and meaningful long-term relationships will sustain us during these financial hard times.

About our RAD kids……………….time and patience is even more important.Not reacting to the fears they stir up in us is also critical. Our calmness can soothe their scared souls.

No matter what age they are. The younger they are,,,probably the easier it is to not react.Nonetheless, it is the older children who probably need it even more because they have gone without longer.

If we are going to catch ourselves before we over react, then we must be introspective and try to figure out why.

Why does a particular thing bug us?  What happened in our background….. which stirs up those irritable feelings, when our

kids bug us?  My father was a pathological lier, so when my child said anything which might resemble even a “half truth”,

my nerves were set on fire.   He might have been telling the truth yet I was already predisposed to expect the worst.

Therefore, I got paradoxical results.   I helped create the very thing I thought I was trying to prevent.

This is when I should have stopped myself. But I was not aware yet. Everyone does the best they can with what they know.

I am so glad to have a better understanding.


What is the RAD child saying? November 28, 2008

Dr. Heim Ginnott, a child psychologist, states children speak in a foreign language which adults must decipher.  Adults have to find the hidden meaning within the words and beneath the behavior.   

How do we do this?      We could ask the following questions.     Who is the child around when a behavior happens?  What leads into a behavior?  What happens during a behavior?   What happens after the behavior?    When does the behavior happen?  Where does  a behavior happen?  Okay….These can help you see a pattern…….but it does not give you the “why”.     

Now, go back and consider those 2 primal “states of being” mentioned some days ago:  Life or death. Warm, comfortable, secure ……………OR,  cold, painful, and fearful.   Safe, secure, and loved……….Or  threatened, dangerous, and unloved.   Love versus fear.  To a child….life is “all or nothing”;  black or white;  life or death;   loved or unloved………………………. AND AS A CHILD, YOU DESPERATELY WANT TO BE LOVED.                                                                                                                           

So what if the only behavior people listen to is negative behavior.  More negative behavior means more people listen.  Finally mom and dad come to school, finally mom and dad are showing concern.  Finally someone is listening!  Finally someone is showing concern!  And in a child’s confused state of being…….this could be the closest thing to love a child has ever experienced.  The negative cycle perpetrated and conditioned to happen again.   

“BUT THERE IS NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF”, you say.  “HE HAS FOOD.  HE HAS CLOTHING.  HE HAS A FAMILY. WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF?”   Life might have been really scary at one time if the child has been abused  or threatened.    Life still might be scary, if the child has been sent from home to home to home because no foster home wanted him.  He does not have wisdom to know what is predictible and what is not.

Fear travels from the exterior superficial  to the interior primal state of being.  Could the child fear he will be sent away again?  Go deeper.  Could it be the child fears that no one will ever love him?  Go deeper.  Could the child fear he is unlovable ?  He might have been thrown away before.  Why would anyone throw away something valuable ?  Therefore he concludes, his core being is valueless and not worthy of love. Ultimately this means to him, he is completely meaningless, valueless, and unlovable. 

How sad, to come to the conclusion you are disposable, replaceable, not worthy enough to keep.   There are plenty of throw away things in our society.  Spouses are throwaway. You help the other through grad school, you dedicate yourself to the other with the hope of reciprocal love and devotion……then then you are disposed of ,,,,replaced.   Paper cups, toys, …you name it.  Today it is a disposable society.  Is that what you are really teaching a child,,, that your love is transient,,,,,,,,replaceable, disposable  …..throw away something  if you are not happy with it. 

You see… is not our logic which is important.    The child’s perception is what counts.   What does respite look like to a child afraid of abandonment?    What does being sent to his room alone look like to this same child.  He is not worthy to be around, he is not valuable, he is disposable.

Sad and scary, isn’t it.                                                                                                     

Would not your heart have compassion for a child lost in a store crying for Mommy?  Would you not want to comfort that child?  Why then, do we lack compassion for RAD kids?  Because we have been taught that they are angry, controlling, bossy, domineering, and oppositional.  We are taught they need to know the adults are in control so they will relinquish their control.  Where does this idea come from?  The false teaching that the children are angry.  When we are faced with an angry person, our own defenses automatically go up causing the power struggle to continue.  

So we follow what we have been taught.   However, when do we finally know when something is not working?   When we seem to be in a perpetual negative cycle?   When everything we try just does not seem to work?   How long must we continue until you finally get to the point we are willing to try something different?   When you are sick and tired of being sick and tired? 

How many respites must we put a child through?  Would we feel our spouse truly loved us ………if he or she did not want to be around us?     Is his or her love so transient that we are only loved if we fit in to a particular mold?  As an adult I would fell hurt, sadness, and fear the love was only imitation.       

What is REAL love?  How would you like your spouse to love you?  What would communicate to you his or her devotion is real?  What would make you feel cherished and treasured?  If your spouse did not want to talk to you or spend time with you, would you feel loved?

What if you were afraid your spouse was going to leave you?  Would you long for the love you felt you have missed? What would you do?  Adults have been known to do all kinds if irrational, stupid things.  Now consider, if you do not have the maturity or wisdom of an adult? 

How does a child communicate what they need to communicate when the adults have ears but do not listen.  What can a child say if they talk and no one understands?  What is left?  Something more and more outrageous? What is left when words do not  work?  What is left?  BEHAVIOR.  What does the child have to do to get their message across?  


When we try to parent a foster child, an adopted child or traumatized child……sometimes we have to go back before we go forward. 

Go back and fill up that empty emotional gas tank instead of using power against power.  Go back …..and bring that child closer to you instead of sending the child alone to his bedroom.  Go back….and spend more time with the child instead of sending the child away to demonstrate our power.  That child already knows, as an adult you have power over his life.   Would you feel the need to demonstrate your power to an infant?  Your child may still be an infant emotionally .

Go back and nurture your child starting at whatever emotional age he is…..1, 2, 3 years old …….

Listen to his behavior.  Maybe he is trying to tell you that school is overwhelming and scary.  Maybe the social worker would always show up at school to take him to a new foster home.  Maybe he needs the security of home schooling.   Maybe he needs to know where you are, and, home is where he feels safe.

Does he always delay and procrastinate when he is sent alone to his room to clean it alone?  He may need the security of having your presence.  Go be with him (in a calm gentle loving way) while he is cleaning his room.  If you had a friend,,,would you be willing to help?  Why not lovingly work side by side your child to clean his room?  This is a win/win situation.  You get the room clean is a shorter amount of time, less anger and less frustration.  The child gets your company, assistance so he is not overwhelmed, conversation and connection with you.  You are filling up his emotional gas tank and teaching him how to work as a team.  

You must be willing to do this in a loving compassionate way.  How would you teach a three year old to clean his room?  How would you show love to a three year old?   See the RAD child as a scared child and develop compassion for him.  What do you have to loose?  You have tried every other thing.  Is it working?  Has the negative behavior terminated?.  The negative behavior may have been put on hold but has the root of the issue resolved?  What is the child trying to say? What is the hidden meaning within the words and beneath the behavior? 



Blessings to all.







reactive attachment disorder NORMAL PREDICTIBLE ATTACHMENT REPONSE October 28, 2008

I was looking at my collage transcripts (the other day).  I guess I am good at reflecting or PONDERING. It is clear to me I was trying to understand life in general.  I remember taking psychology in high school.  Then in 1978 I took General Psychology 101 at Metro Tech Community College in Omaha Nebraska. 

I now believe it is everyone’s responsibility to overcome their childhood when they are old enough to do anything about it. Every generation is trapped within the boundaries and limitations of the previous era’s wisdom and ignorance.   I see my striving to understand reflected in education and religion.  If God (or Supreme Being if you wish) is the creator of all, the study of both reveals the other.  Science reflects God and God’s wisdom can be seen in science.  I do not believe they can be separated because God is the Master Scientist.

Anyway….I was always trying to understand.  Watching, reflecting, pondering, learning, and praying.  Trying to understand my family, childhood, others, experiences, and life in general.  There will always be an element which is beyond our understanding, above our ways. This is the Devine Mystery which we have to rely on faith and just know God’s way is beyond our human understanding. The ultimate Human Dilemma, the Human Condition: to know we don’t know.  We are imperfect and lacking in understanding.  What a thing to come up with….After years of trying to understand……coming to understand there are just some things which cannot be understood.

Never the less, some things are so obvious they are confusing.  I remember taking a speech class long, long time ago. I had to stand up in front of people. I was scared to death.  My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking as I held the note cards.  My voice trembled.  My entire body trembled as well.  The critiques said over and over again, that I should “just be myself”.  Guess what?  I was just being myself:  Scared to Death.  I didn’t know how to be other than scared to death so their statements to be “myself” were not useful.  I did understand this was a complete oxymoron. 

Now back to RAD.  I flipped through my “Abnormal Psychology” text and found nothing on Reactive Attachment Disorder.   My child development texts are considered to be from a “Normal” perspective.  “Disorder” suggests abnormal.  Okay.  One can find some information in the DSM-IV.  The DSM-IV is the guide which the mental health field uses to classify and categorize symptoms of various “disorders”.

Would it be normal or abnormal to fear picking up a hot skillet without a hot pad, if you have been burnt before?   Would it be normal or abnormal to fears dogs if you were attacked by a dog before?   Would it be normal or abnormal to fear public speaking if you have never done it before?  Probably….for all these scenarios. 

The human being is an exquisite sensory system of nerves which culminate into a hair-trigger alarm system, which when activated, releases an explosion of energy channeled into an instantaneous flight, fight, or freeze response for survival.   Since humans’ natural predators were among the fastest and smartest on the planet, such as lions, wolves, vipers, and man himself, man needed an incredible nervous system to survive.  The very fact of man’s survival is evidence that God, in God’s wisdom, endowed man with this ability.

So to counter this danger, perhaps first exposed “in utero”, the human child has one of the most sensitive alarm systems in nature.  The slightest perception of an unnatural movement can trigger the flight, fight, and freeze response which for countless millennia enabled the human to survive the stealthiest cats, the most cunning of wolves, poisonous of vipers, and the smartest of humans.

If a child did not have certain responses such as hyper vigilance or hypersensitivity, something then would truly be wrong.  Even hypo-vigilance or hypo-sensitivity are normal for survival. The human nervous system also had to conserve energy during times of food shortages or times of long confinement. When groups of people huddled together in small shelters in mid winter, conservation of energy was critical as well as suppressing aggression.  Confined in close quarters with little food, it is easy to become irritated and hostile with each others.  If the nervous system did not slow down to depress hostilities and aggression, humans would have ultimately exterminated themselves even before they starved to death.

The very fact of man’s survival is evidence that God, in God’s wisdom, endowed man with this ability.

 The ultimate Oxymoran.  Can we not have compassion and love for these children?  Do we remove fear by inducing fear?   Do we remove fear with restraints, punishment, timeout or isolation?  We may never fully understand but how about reflecting and pondering?  We may never fully understand but how about overcoming the previous generation’s conceptions of RAD?  How about overcoming the previous generation’s boundaries, limitations, ignorance, and misconceptions of RAD…. by learning, growing and questioning the given solution?  Consider new ideas.  Consider a new perspective.  Tap into your compassion and empathy.   Does it not say……”perfect love casts out fear”?  Can we not try compassion?   There may never be an answer for some, but let us ponder.  Maybe we must first ponder, “what is love”.?  Some will say that punishment is a form of love.  Some may.




Fight, Flight & Freeze: Reactive Attachment October 26, 2008

After using all the traditional methods I was trained in, with my own child and at agencies ,,,I am now very much on the Post-Forbes line of thinking. It might be easier for others to understand The Stress Model because they may not have been brainwashed by all the mainstream methods like  I was.  I now consider the mainstream methods hurtful.  When the traditional mainstream methods are used, they keep getting more and more punitive.  It seems that at the time you are in them, you do not realize that it is getting more and more punitive.

“Our” kids get stuck at the emotional stage when the trauma happened. 1,2,3,4, years of age….  Even if they are 7,8,9 years old.  Interestingly enough, I have returned to my child development back ground.    A RAD child may be 10 years old but emotionally 2.  However, agencies want their people  to talk logic with an emotional child.  It did not work.  It would seem that society and many in the psychological world, forget about child development when it comes to RAD. 

When a child is in the middle of a melt- down,  explaining all the logical reasoning to stop the tantrum, or why they should not feel that way, or telling them to consider the consequences they might get,,,,,,meant nothing to them.  Only after the children understood that you sort of, kind of, or at least were trying to understand them… Could they calm.   After the child was calm, and the relationship strengthened ,,,,could you help the child consider something else.I have found that BCI methods are the most kind, loving, gentle,,, scriptural (if you are Christian), or peaceful and gentle ( if you follow a non aggressive faith system) approach I have been introduced to.   When did Jesus put someone in a restraint, a hold, or a forced sitting?   Did Gandhi? 



If you are not the religious type, the methods work anyway.To say a child has an attachment disorder, is negative and implies illness.  BCI would rather consider a child attachment challenged ,,,,as all of us might be……. Therefore, hope and healing is possible.

Post and Forbes use the principals of bio neurology in that the children are hard wired for survival, due to their circumstances.  They can be hard wired even while in the womb.  They are hard wired to be fearful, on alert, hyper-vigilant, and hyper-aroused.  They use  “fight and flight” which has been proven useful to the survival of mankind.  Why wouldn’t they use it if humankind uses it for survival?  Another stance more recently added it the “freeze” stance.  I have seen deer and rabbits use “freeze” in our valley.  They survive by being perfectly still, trying to avoid detection by avoiding movement.  Our kids use freeze by being hypo-aroused. 



Instead of hyper-arousal and fighting,…….. they shut down, tune out, go to sleep, delay, procrastinate, get depressed, or use that word all parents hate, “NO”.  They do not necessarily FREEZE as the deer do in my valley.  However, when something is too stressful or overwhelming from their point of view, they can become hypo-aroused as a way of surviving.  Their bio neurology responds to an emotional danger the same way they would react to a real life and death danger.  They are unable to perceive the difference in the two.

 So instead of using power against power, force against force, resistance against resistance, BCI uses a non- threatening approach to help the child feel safe.

And no,,,the child is not allowed to do just anything…However,  a child is valued more than material goods.  Child proofing a home and protecting animals is very important.  Nevertheless,  material goods are never as important as a human.  

BCI and myself, believe that a child has negative behaviors because they of overwhelmed, scared, and stressed.  Instead of “time out” the family does “time in”.  Time out places the child alone and in fear of being abandoned again.  Instead, the family brings the child closer and spend more one on one time together.  Children to not act out for attention, child act out because the NEED attention. They missed out on so much of it,,,they still need the attention they should have had when they were younger.For 99% of the children, anything works.  We are dealing with that 1% who need special understanding.

If I am able to do my job well,  eventually,  a family should be more and more therapeutic in their own home, and need me less.  A family repeatedly provides containment (not forced holding ).  They adjust the environment to reduce stimulation, reduce stress, provide safety and security.  Healing happens.  Parents are to consider their own fears so they can reflect about why their children keep pushing their “buttons”.  Parental calmness can calm the child.  When the child grows older emotionally,,,, they then child can be introduced to more stressful things.



Tradition is the enemy sometimes: Reactive Attachment October 23, 2008

I took my dog to our Veterinarian one day.  She was curious about the philosophy I was trained in.  I tried to explain in a way fellow therapists would understand.  I noticed that blank, far away look in her eyes as she cocked her head a little to the side.  I knew she was a horse lover so I mentioned the “Horse Whisperer”.  Not the movie, but the man the movie was based on. Then an “OH !” came from her, with sudden understanding.

When I got home I Googled, “Frank Bell Horse Whisperer.”  I found his site and found a Kindered Spirit.  His site was so on target to understanding our kids… he understands his horses.  It turns out that he often does fund raisers to help children.  He will teach his Horse Whispering to people to raise money for equine therapy for children.

I emailed Frank Bell and told him the story about the vet.  I explained the gentle methods which I was trained in by Post and Forbes.  Just like the horses, our kids are hard wired for survival and repond very much in like manner: Hyper-vigilant to sights and sounds, startling at the slightest thing, often resisting the one who intends to help them.  I asked him if I could use some of his training videos to help people to have compassion for our kids……to understand they are really scared and fearful.

The kind gentleman that he is, responded to my email personally.  Not an “auto-reply” generated by a web host.   He too understood the philosophy of Post and Forbes and their gentle methods.  He gave his blessing for the work I do to help the children and gave permission to refer to him and his videos.  He said he would send me one of his Videos.  I got A Day in the Life of a Horsewhisperer.    

Now I would like to include some information I presented at an adoption conferance in Northwest Arkansas.  It is about Frank Bell and his philosophy.  It is my hope, that perhaps, the use of different words or scenarios can help parents, caretakers, and therapists to gain a compassionate view of Rad Children.

Frank Bell’s horse training philosophy is refreshingly unique in that it encompasses a much bigger picture of the horse. In this day and age of hurrying, seeking immediate gratification, and take, take, take, he has chosen to do nothing but give to his horses—until they are ready to give back to him—willingly, happily, and eagerly.

Since the horse’s predators were among the fastest creatures on the planet and in the case of wolves and man, they were also the smartest—most cunning predators, the horse needed incredible instincts to survive. Their survival is proof that they posses these instincts.

To counter the stealthy stalking of their enemies, horses developed one the most sensitive alarm systems in nature. The slightest perception of an unnatural movement can trigger the flight response which for countless millennia enabled the horse to escape the stealthiest cats, the most cunning wolves, and smartest humans.

The horse is an exquisite sensory system of nerves which culminate into a hair-trigger alarm system, which when activated, releases an explosion of energy channeled into an instantaneous flight for survival. The horse is naturally fearful.

Tradition is the enemy of progressive horse training methods. ” Grandpa treated his horses this way and we do it the same,” is the lame excuse that pervades the old school of rough horse treatment. Pain and intimidation have been the backbone of horse training methods for centuries.

The focus of Bell’s training is on the development of a “safe” relationship with the horse.  Without using force or other common strong-arm tactics, Bell develops a foundation of trust upon which all further development must be built. He transforms the horse’s distrust into trust.

Taking the time to love on the horse pays big rewards only minutes later as the horse eagerly chooses to give back and enjoy performing and engaging with the human. It is truly magical.

A kinder, gentler way of relating to horses and all living creatures.  Bell’s message truly applies to all walks of life from family to business and most importantly to relationships.

Blessings.  Susan



Yes, Hello World: Reactive Attachment Disorder October 7, 2008

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.