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My Research after diagnosis


Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a disorder that is caused by early childhood trauma that happens before the age of five when brain development is most vulnerable (RAD guide to parenting). When a child does not establish a healthy attachment with parents or caregivers, they learn at an incredibly young age that they can only depend on themselves. Children with RAD lack the cognitive development so they are unable to process what happens and often default into a fight or flight mode which leaves them in a constant state of survival mode (

Children need a constant, stable and caring environment at all ages but especially in their first few years of life while they are developing the bonding ability, consistency is key in a child’s developmental years. Children’s basic needs: emotional and physical must be constantly met and when they are not being met, they can develop RAD.

For example, if a baby cries because they are hungry or needs a diaper change and their caregivers do not respond but instead let them continue to cry, eventually the child will learn that nobody will come. Rad can also develop when a baby goes without attention; not being held, touched, talked to, or interacted with for hours at a time.

Most children that develop this disorder are children that are adopted, frequently change caregivers, have parents that have severe metal health problems and or criminal behaviors with substance abuse that impair their parenting, or even have a prolonged separation from parents due to hospitalization or being incarcerated. Those first few years of life are so crucial for a child to not only feel loved and well taken care of but also to know they are not alone.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for RAD, but it can be managed, RAD is going to be a constant challenge in not only the child’s life but also the families involved.

With intensive therapy for the child and caregivers they can learn to manage this disorder by learning how to best handle situations as they occur.

Some symptoms of Rad in infants and young children always show common signs such as:

*Avoiding eye contract and physical touch, especially with caregivers.

*Failure to show an expected range of emotions when interacting with others; *failure to show emotions of conscience such as remorse, guilt, or regret.

*Watching others closely but not engaging in social interaction, failing to ask for support or assistance.

*Shows inappropriate affection towards strangers while demonstrating a lack of affection for and or fear of primary caregivers.

*Expressing anger; having tantrums; being irritable, unhappy, and sad; disobedience and arguing (beyond what would

be usual)

As a child with RAD gets older their behaviors will usually start to follow one of two general patterns.

· INHIBITITED RAD – Children are usually withdrawn and emotionally unresponsive. They usually do not seek attention from caregivers or others, seeming indifferent to affection. They usually will avoid relationships and like to keep to themselves.

· DISINHIBITED RAD- Also detached from their care givers, these children are usually overly friendly toward strangers. They seek attention from anyone outside of their normal care takers, sometimes in an unsafe manner. They normally seem much younger than their age and do not respect boundaries of others.

Because RAD kids have suffered from early childhood trauma it has left their brain “stuck” in survival mode and now every situation is treated as if its life or death.

Because they do not trust adults to care for them or to even stick around, they spend most of their time and energy trying to make plans on how they can control the people and situations around them.

Rad kids act out in abnormal ways, their behaviors seem beyond what would be considered a normal reaction and is always to the extreme, whether it is a positive or a negative reaction.

They can mimic back what they have seen or heard, they are master manipulators and often seem overly sweet and charming to the outside world.

· Children with Rad often lie to get out of trouble, to get their own way but also for no reason at all. The lies are illogical or even seem like a game to them.

· Physical aggression- Rad kids often hit, kick, bite, and pinch siblings and caregivers. This can progressively get worse as the child gets older and can become extremely dangerous and even progress into assaulting others with knives and weapons.

· Food Hording- Children with RAD are obsessed with food, they may overeat to the point of making themselves sick, often just to get a reaction out of their caregivers. Or even steal food they are allowed to have and hide it in their rooms.

· Stealing- Children with RAD often steal, sometimes its because its something they want but just like lying other times there is no reason for it other then just being a game for them.

· Superficially charming- Rad kids will put on a sweet and charming show they are very polite in public, and therefore most friends and family will not believe you when you tell them about their behavior at home. They will often accuse you of overreacting or accuse you of doing something incorrect.

· Manipulation- Children with Rad are highly manipulative. They will manipulate anyone that is around them. Some will go to school and insist their parents did not feed them breakfast and because they always have a sweet and charming perception of them teachers often believe the child over the parent.

· Lack of boundaries- Children with RAD view relationships as games and are always out for something, weather its candy, toys, or just validation that their parents are in the wrong. They often attach themselves to extended family, teachers, friends or even strangers.

Rad is devastating for families. Studies show that most marriages do not survive, Parents get PTSD and siblings are abused and traumatized.

Rad plays out in predictable ways, with each family member playing the same role in each case.

· Rad Child- The trauma that has happened to a Rad child may be different but the effects it causes all seem to be the same. They are unable to regulate their emotions and constantly trying to defend themselves, even when there is no reason to do so. They always must be right because being wrong is not an option in their mind. They will often struggle in school, finding a job and building any real relationships. Most RAD kids end up in a living facility, hospital or get themselves into trouble with the law.

· Siblings of RAD children- Often known as “glass children” because their parents often “look through” them. Most of their energy is focused to the child that has RAD because they “need” them at that moment. Siblings miss practices are late to games or often miss out on activities all together due to their siblings’ behaviors.

· Nurturing- Enemy Mom- Rad kids target their primary care giver, normally their mother, typically they have been abandoned, neglected, or abused by their biological mother so they see their adoptive mother as the enemy. They will actively target their mother with their disruptive behaviors. These moms spiral into depression, they feel isolated and angry some report feeling like a completely different person all together. Some are diagnosed with PTSD, and many go on medication for anxiety and depression. These moms feel as if they are always on high alert.

Duped Dad- Dad usually have no idea how bad the RAD child’s behavior is. These kids are adept at triangulating caregivers to further isolate their target- their mom. Often the father may never witness the child’s extreme behavior and as a result they believe that the problem must be the mother, she is overreacting, she is not loving enough, she is oversensitive, these accusations and lack of support further compound the stress and hurt that has already been created.

I have created a tab for the books and sites I have used to find this information.

Does anyone have any more helpful books, sites, movies ?

-RAD mama

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