Monday, September 15, 2008

The Little Ways Make a Difference

It has been interesting and amazing to watch how so many small things can make such a huge difference. A few years ago I was involved in a rather heated -- forum flaming -- debate with another mother parenting children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I took issue with the fact that this mother (parenting multiple adopted special needs children) believed there was only one way to deal with "these sick children" as she referred to her children...

During the course of our interaction I was surprised to learn that some people hear a diagnosis, choose a treatment plan and then expect it to work for ALL children with the same diagnosis. While I am not any expert by any means, this mother had parented several children including a few who had disrupted or dissolved adoptions and she believed she was the expert...

I had a huge issue with her approach. I have an even bigger issue with the "Only One Way" attitude today.

Reactive Attachment Disorder -- RAD, is a very complex diagnosis which is mainly based on the observations and interpretations of behaviors typically reported by a child's primary caregiver. The problem is that every single one of the trademark "Symptoms" of RAD are also symptoms of many other conditions; metal illness, personality disorders, prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs, or in some cases just normal for some people.

The other mother while more experienced parenting highly special needs children seemed to have a "cookie-cutter" attitude about the diagnosis and treatment for children with RAD. She believed there was No Reason to learn about the specific different kinds of attachment issues. Worse however, was the fact this mother believed that unless the RAD was healed there was NO REASON to even investigate any other possible cause for the symptoms her children were displaying.

I just can't do things that way... Especially, when I am parenting a child who has behavior issues that are on so many different lists of symptoms for so many different different diagnosis!

If I could offer any of my own advice to parents suspecting or raising a child who has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder it would be: "Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover!" And, remember that people are not JUST ONE THING we are all complex with unique personalities and brains.

In order to parent a child who has behaviors listed on many different diagnosis effectively it's our responsibility to learn as much as we can about each of the possible "REASONS" as we can, and to get to know our child well enough to tell it the recent behavior was because of RAD, or another issue, or in some cases just within the realm of "normal" for some children at that age.

If there really was only ONE CURE for children with RAD then it would work all the time and it would also be one of the only disorders in the DSM with one cure. The truth is that no person is just One Thing and any parent unwilling to understand ALL the possible reasons why a child behaves the way they do as well as WHO the child really is may be part of the problem.

Nearly 6 years into parenting my RAD, FASD, ODD, ADHD, PTSD, Neglected/Abused, and so many other possible things child I have learned one important thing:

It can be the Little Ways that make the biggest difference!

Because of the fact it really can be the smallest things that make the greatest difference it seems to require a lot of words to explain what I mean. Stay tuned to this blog for future posts with lots of words about the little ways we can actually make and see the biggest differences with our Special RAD and other A.B.C labeled children.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Hum, wonder who that person could have been. Honestly, I am just not buying the RAD stuff anymore... I have run across two response from the general non-adoptive foster care community..

    One they think what most RAD cults do is sick and thought someone put an end to it years ago

    or second (they really think all the kids are damaged good and you were the idiot who let one in your home)

    I think many of the people, like the one I think you were talking about, just go out of their way to ...I mean it is not even like they treat these kids like they are their real kids... objectify them or something... train them up like dogs or something.. and then where really were the success in all that (most of that one person had kids in jail, homeless, several in RTC)

    just a big... I think the whole system is messed up and I hate that the RAD cult has so much power in the foster adoption circles...


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