2/01/2006

More on RAD

Billy, Cimion and our friends that went, had a great time at Daytona on Saturday. Cimion was so excited to be seeing a Nascar race live! They got a few autographs and Billy bought Cimion 2 small die cast cars. He even bought one for Jacqueline because it was the Disney Princess car. :-)

Unfortunately, over the next two days, Cimion was very argumentative, short tempered and did a lot of crying. This behvaior is typical for Cimion after we do something out of sync with our routine or he's in an unfamiliar place or situation. We saw a little bit of it on Sunday, Monday was a normal day but then Tuesday was when it exploded.
He reverted back to some old behaviors and spent the day arguing, pouting, crying and being very disruptive to the rest of us. I told him to stay in the back yard play area, which has the trampoline, playset and the bikes. We had talked about other ways to handle these feelings and I like to keep him near the physical stuff so he has a way to work it out if he chooses to. He'd much rather wallow in self pity and keep telling himself how bad he is though. Also, when his behavior is like this, I keep him seperated from Jacqueline. She's had to live with his issues far to long and it had started affecting her. I can't let Cimion heal at her expense. She has a right to thrive and grow without having his behaviors in her face all the time.
I stayed outside in the back yard for the most part, just cleaning and gardening.
He basically ignored me, kept his head down and sulked.
After about 10 minutes I saw him over on the other side of the yard. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he wanted to get the football. I asked him if he remembered what I had just told him 10 minutes earlier. He said yes, that I told him to stay in the play area.
At this point I want nothing more than to say "Okay, no big deal" and walk back inside.
But I can't.

A child with attachment disorder sees the world very different than we do. They learn ,early on not to trust adults. It doesn't matter how much love we show him. They believe the only way to stay safe is to push all adults away, especially any adults who try to show them love. Control is the thing that drives them and they use defiance, manipulation, violence to keep you away.

So at this point, I have two choices...walk away and show him that I'm not strong enough to handle him (in his mind, I can't take care of him) or finish what I started.

Past experience with Cimion has taught me that this stage is where it has always gone from bad to worse. This is the stage where he has broken doors, chairs and hurt himself.
But, the good news is (yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel!) that I've been working with him on moving forward. I've been trying to show him that although he didn't do as I asked him to (which is one of his two rules, the other being respect everyone in the house) the rest of the week doesn't have to go downhill. That he can, apologise, offer restitution and move forward instead of raging, crying and dragging himself as far down as he can go. That he actually has a choice. It's been so hard for him to grasp that it doesn't have to be this way.

So....
Very calmly I remind him that he broke one of his two rules.
Very calmly, he apologised.

So far, so good.
I told him that because he didn't do as I asked, I wanted him to sweep the cemented area of the front and back yard.
At this point, he usually will rage for the next 2-3 days and then sweep.
I felt myself basically holding my breath, hoping that all the work we've been doing will get him through the next few minutes.

He picked up the broom and went to work.
I went inside and cried.
Sometimes you just have to release it.

Facts about RAD from various online sources:
Reactive Attachment Disorder is a psychological disorder that occurs during the first two years of life when a child does not attach and bond properly to their primary caregiver. Fundamental processes do not occur resulting in on-going rage, fear of attaching to anyone, lack of trust, an unusual effort to control everything in their lives, a lack of self worth, and an inability to fully comprehend cause and effect.
Attachment-disordered children are guided only by what they want at the moment. Their focus is self-centered and there is no concern for how their behavior impacts others. Behavior and attitude is similar to those diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.
Children with RAD will not love you until they can trust you. They will test you over and over to see if you mean what you say...to prove that you are trustworthy.
RAD behavior is often an effort to feel safe. What they're trying to do is prove that no one is strong enough to be in control of them. They make efforts over and over to prove that you can't control them, which then reinforces their fear that no one is strong enough to keep them safe.
Children with RAD either avoid forming personal relationships (the inhibited or unattached type) or they seem overly friendly to everyone, without making any distinctions between their parents and strangers (the uninhibited or indiscriminate type). In both cases, there is no real trust. The children treat other people either as threats to be avoided or as suckers to be fooled and manipulated.


After he swept, we talked about change and choices and moving forward. Cimion is just at the very beginning stages of wanting to change. The next 6-12 months will be tough for him, just like last year was for Shawna.
Changing behaviors and thought processes are never easy but they're extremely scary for hurt children. They believe that if they get close to someone, something bad will happen, that they will be hurt or possible even die. Their life depends on staying emotionally detached.

He has come a long way in the two years that we adopted him. My goal with him right now to to stop the rages and the explosions. The more I can keep him rational and calm, the better off he is.

One step at a time.

3 comments:

Ron R said...

A moment to remember.

Susan said...

Yay for both of you! This is a great post.

Joanne said...

Thank you both for your replies. :-)