Saturday, June 26, 2004

Research on RAD

RESEARCH—RAD
http://www.attachmenttherapy.com/ad.html
What Is Attachment Disorder?
Attachment is the result of the bonding process that occurs between a child and caregiver during the first couple years of the child's life. The first year of life is the year of needs. The infant's primary needs are touch, eye contact, movement, smiles, and nourishment. When the infant has a need, he or she expresses the need through crying. Ideally, the caretaker is able to recognize and satisfy the need. Through this interaction, which occurs hundreds of thousands of times in a year, the child learns that the world is a safe place and trust develops. In addition, emotional connection forms, the child feels empowered in his or her environment, and develops a secure base from which the child can confidently and effectively explore the world. Attachment is reciprocal, the baby and caregiver create this deep, nurturing connection together: It takes two to connect. It is imperative for optimal brain development and emotional health, and its effects are felt physiologically, emotionally, cognitively and socially. When this initial attachment is lacking, children lack the ability to form and maintain loving, intimate relationships. They grow up with an impaired ability to trust that the world is a safe place and that others will take good care of them. Without this sense of trust, children believes that they must be hypervigilant about their own safety. Unfortunately, their idea about safety prevents them from allowing others to take care of them in a loving, nurturing manner. They become extremely demanding and controlling in response to their fear. Emotionally they believe that if they do not control their world then they will die. Children without proper care in the first few years of life have an unusually high level of stress hormones, which adversely effect the way crucial aspects of the brain and body develop. Conscience development is dependent upon brain development and follows attachment. Therefore, these children lack prosocial values and morality as well as demonstrating aggressive, disruptive and antisocial behaviors. There are many reasons why the development of this connection can be disrupted. Factors that may contribute to impaired attachment include:
Premature birth
In utero trauma such as exposure to drugs or alcohol
Unwanted pregnancy
Separation from birth mother
Postpartum depression in mother
Severe abuse and/or neglect in the first years of life
Multiple caretakers
Hospitalizations
Unresolved pain
Painful or invasive medical procedures
Insensitive parenting
These children have learned at a preverbal stage that the world is a scary and distrustful place. This lesson has taken place at a biochemical level in the brain. For this reason, these children do not respond well to traditional therapy or parenting since both rely on the child's ability to form relationships that require trust and respect. These children have Reactive Attachment Disorder, and it requires a different type of therapy to address these early attachment difficulties. Identifying Attachment Disorder The Child:
Superficially charming, acts cute to get what he/she wants.
Indiscriminately affectionate with unfamiliar adults.
Lacks genuine affection with primary caregivers (especially mother).
Controlling, bossy, manipulative, defiant, argumentative, demanding, impulsive.
Preoccupation with fire, death, blood, or gore.
Cruelty to animals, destruction of property, aggression toward others or self.
Destructive, accident-prone.
Rages or has long temper tantrums, especially in response to adult authority.
Poor eye contact, except when lying.
Blames others for their problems.
Lacks self-control.
Lacks cause and effect thinking.
Lies, steals, shows no remorse, no conscience, defiant.
Hoards or sneaks food, strange eating habits.
Poor hygiene: wets or soils self.
Has difficulty maintaining friendships.
Underachiever.
Persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter.
Grandiose sense of self lacks trust in others to care for him/her.
The Parents:
Feel helpless, demoralized, emotionally exhausted.
Appear angry, frustrated and hostile.
Feelings of inadequacy and guilt.
There is a range of attachment problems resulting in varying degrees of emotional disturbances in the child. Some of these children may have concurrent diagnoses such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Mood Disorders such as Depression or Bipolar Disorder, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, many children with Reactive Attachment Disorder are often misdiagnosed and receive inadequate therapy for years. Without proper treatment, these children and the societies in which they reside will pay a very high price indeed. Our prisons are filled with attachment disordered adults who failed to be diagnosed and treated while children. Although attachment therapy is not the cure all for attachment disorder, it is certainly a necessary piece of the puzzle.
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http://specialchildren.about.com/cs/radattachment/
Many foster and adoptive families of Reactive Attachment Disordered children live in a home that has become a battleground. In the beginning, the daily struggles can be expected, after all, we knew that problems would occur. Initially, stress can be so subtle that we lose sight of a war which others do not realize is occurring. We honestly believe that we can work through the problems. Outbursts, rages, and strife become a way of life. An emotionally unhealthy way of life. We set aside our own needs and focus on the needs of our children. But what does it cost us?
The majority of the population does not understand the dynamics of parenting a RAD child. Family and friends may think that you -- the parent are the one with the problem. Families are frequently turned in on false abuse allegations. Support is non-existent, because outsiders can't even begin to imagine that children can be so destructive.
It is a known fact, that kids diagnosed with RAD tend to target their Moms, play it cool around their Dads, and charm strangers. Where does that leave a parent? Without strong support and understanding, the parent will become isolated, demoralized, hurt, confused, and often held accountable for the actions of their child.
Families are simply not prepared for the profound anger that lives in the heart and soul of our RAD children. It's heartbreaking, frustrating, mindboggling, and extremely stressful. In essence, we're fighting to teach our children how to love and trust. Intimacy frightens our children; they have lost the ability to love, to trust, and to feel remorse for hurtful actions. They see us as the enemy. Small expectations on our part can set our children off in ways that are not only indescribable, but also often unbelievable.
Your home becomes a war zone and you feel totally inadequate. You begin to question your parenting abilities, and your own sanity. You know that your child has been hurt beyond words, you ache for them. Despite your loving intentions and actions, it's thrown in your face. Your heart's desire is to provide your child with untold opportunities, a future, and all the love in the world. You want to soothe your child. You want your child to have a fulfilling childhood and to grow up to be a responsible adult. Yet, you are met with hatred and fierce anger.
In war, the battle lines are drawn; an antagonism exists between two enemies. In our homes, we are not drawing battle lines; we are not prepared for war. We are prepared for parenting. Consequently, the ongoing stress can result in disastrous affects on our well-being literally causing our emotional and physical health to deteriorate.
The primary symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include:
Avoidance -- refusing to recognize the thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma, this further includes avoiding activities, individuals, and places associated with the trauma.
Intense distress -- when certain cues or "triggers" set off memories of the traumatic event. You may have trouble concentrating, along with feelings of irritability, and frustration over trivial events that never bothered you in the past.
Nightmares and flashbacks -- insomnia or oversleeping may occur. You may exhibit symptoms such as heightened alertness and startle easily.
A loss of interest in your life -- detaching yourself from loved ones. Losing all hope for the future and a lack of loving feelings.
Secondary symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can include:
The realization that you are no longer the person you once were. Relationships have changed by alienating yourself from loved ones. Loneliness and a feeling of helplessness prevail in your daily life.
Depression, which can lead to a negative self-image, lowered self-esteem, along with feeling out of control of your life and environment. You may become a workaholic and physical problems may develop.
You become overly cautious and insecure. Angry outbursts may occur putting stress on significant relationships.
If you are parenting a child diagnosed with Reactive Attachment disorder, you will not escape adverse effects. It is essential to recognize that your feelings are typical under stressful conditions. It is just as essential to accept the fact that extensive stress is unhealthy. By recognizing the symptoms and seeking support, you will strengthen your abilities to cope. Counseling is readily available to families and individuals. Take advantage of resources that will help you put the traumatic experiences into perspective, enabling you to let go of past feelings by replacing them with positive skills for recovery.
1. In many instances, there was no way of knowing that your child has an attachment disorder. Most bonding issues do not completely surface, until the child has been in the same home setting for a while. These children are highly skilled at charming facades. It's when intimacy and trust are expected that they begin to crumble.
2. No matter how insulting the child can be, how many times they say they hate you, wish you were dead, etc., you must rise above it. It can be very tiresome, but remember, we are the adults in this scenario. It is vital for us to set a loving example with firm limits. By reacting to negativity, we are reinforcing negative behaviors.
3. When you are parenting a RAD child, it is extremely easy to fall into the pattern of self-doubt. Parenting a child day after day who consistently fights you every step of the way can be one of the most discouraging times a parent will ever face. 4. Avoid power struggles with your child. Walk away whenever possible. Attempting to redirect the child can be very helpful for both of you. When violent behaviors are present, seek immediate professional help.5. This is your child...don't be ashamed to ask questions or seek other's opinions. Make a strong commitment by becoming an advocate for your child. In the long run, the education you receive will benefit the entire family. 6. Get on your soapbox and shout from the rooftops. Educate others about RAD and what your child needs. Again, advocacy for our children will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
7. Don't be afraid to ask for help outside your typical family resources. There are many experts in the field of Reactive Attachment Disorders, you can find the help that you need.
8. Don't second guess yourself. Don't listen to the criticism of others who believe that if you love your child enough, RAD will go away.
9. Do take time for yourself. Stress causes many physical ailments. Recharging your batteries will most certainly give you a new attitude. Find respite care and use it.
10. Join a support group. Support among families is a crucial element to successfully parenting RAD children while keeping your sanity intact. Please remember that you are not alone. Families like yours have encountered the very same issues that you are struggling with. Don't be ashamed and don't be afraid to reach out.

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