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When we adopted we were told that Michael had been diagnosed with RAD, but we were given little other information. At first I felt like this was a mistaken diagnosis. Soon we were to find out that it was not. We were in no way equipped to handle this challenge. It has been a "live and learn" experience for us.
We have not had professional counseling for Michael because what is available in our area is primarily individual. From my reading it seems that family and parent counseling is the best option in dealing with RAD. I have read and read and read to find information and answers. We try some things and they work. Other things we try are complete failures.
The method of parenting that we have found to be most helpful with RAD is described in the book Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. It has helped teach Michael cause and effect. It has aided him in learning that he has choices and control over many things. Love and limits seem to be the crucial needs of a RAD child. This book gave us the tools to offer both of these to Michael without making it a continual battle of wills.
Michael has made remarkable progress. It used to be that we could go down the characteristic check-list, and he fit every category with the exception of one or two. We praise the Lord that we are now only dealing with about five of the characteristics. God is good!
Below you will find more information about RAD. It is not a condition that is apparent to those outside the immediate family. This is one of the things that makes it so challenging to work with. People see a charming and loving child, and so the parents and especially the mother can feel alienated and alone. Please take the time to read and then say a prayer for these special hurting children and their families. God is the Great Physician.
DEFINITION OF RAD from Mayo Clinic
"Reactive attachment disorder is a rare but serious condition in which infants and young children don't establish healthy bonds with parents or caregivers.
A child with reactive attachment disorder is typically neglected, abused or orphaned. Reactive attachment disorder develops because the child's basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren't met and loving, caring attachments with others are never established. This may permanently change the child's growing brain, hurting the ability to establish future relationships."
CAUSES OF RAD from Mayo Clinic
"To feel safe and develop trust, infants and young children need a stable, caring environment. Their basic emotional and physical needs must be consistently met. For instance, when a baby cries, his or her need for a meal or a diaper must be met with a shared emotional exchange that may include eye contact, smiling and caressing.
A child whose needs are ignored or met with emotionally or physically abusive responses from caregivers comes to expect rejection or hostility. The child then becomes distrustful and learns to avoid social contact. Emotional interactions between babies and caregivers may affect development in the brain, leading to attachment problems and affecting personality and relationships throughout life."
CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILDREN WITH RAD (most common characteristics from multiple sources)
- Superficially engaging and charming
- Indiscriminate affection toward strangers
- Lack of affection toward parents on their terms
- Little eye contact with parents, on normal terms
- Persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter
- Lying about the obvious (crazy lying)
- Destructive behavior to self, others, material things (accident prone)
- Abnormal eating patterns
- No impulse control (Frequently acts hyperactive)
- Lags in learning
- Abnormal speech patterns
- Poor peer relationships
- Lack of cause and effect thinking
- Lack of conscience
- Cruelty to animals
- Preoccupation with fire, blood, gore
- Control issues