What to do if you have a child with RAD in your Classroom

  • A substitute teacher was a problem because it got all the students keyed up and that teacher didn’t know about August’s special needs. We created an outlet for August to be able to go to the office on days when there was a sub and the class was being loud and he felt he couldn’t keep it together.
  • Being able to run and expend energy was a stress reliever for August. In 4th grade he was in a trailer due to the school being over-crowded. This allowed for a gift of his being able to “go to the bathroom” while getting outside and running round for a bit in sight of the teacher when he was feeling overwhelmed because of the logistics of being in the trailer.
  • I discussed with the principal about the importance of the teacher match with August and how wonderful 4th grade had been for him and the entire 4th grade staff looped up to 5th grade which gave August the same teacher two years in a row!
  • In middle school he was given a “hot pass” which was a red laminated card which he could put on his desk any time he was feeling overwhelmed. As soon as the teacher saw that August was excused from the room to the office no questions asked.
  • These are just a few of the ideas we worked out to manage August’s behaviors while trying to keep the classroom structure and help the teacher stay sane! For some other tips, I found this very helpful article here. Please share your stories and ideas on what has worked (or not!) with your child in school. As a community we all benefit from everyone’s successes and challenges. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

    When Every Day is Monday

    “If your heart is broken, make art with the broken pieces” –Shane Koyczan So what do we do? Where do we get our fuel to continue day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year? It takes resolve and training to be resilient to the blows that just keep coming and find some way to see hope and something positive in the midst of all that seems to wear us down. Here are a couple of tricks doctors say will help:

    • Let yourself feel sad: I know, right? So here’s the deal. It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself. When something awful happens, cry, scream, eat a pint of ice cream, binge watch Netflix. Feel hopeless. Because if you don’t feel hopeless, how can you know what hopeful feels like? You don’t have to be stone-faced and strong all the time. But watch that it doesn’t last too long because that can be a sign of depression.
    • Control what you can: If you’ve read about having a child with RAD this may sound like a page right out their playbook! But it’s true. If you do just one thing you can to affect your situation, you will be amazed at what it can do for your mood. If your child is destroying his or her room, clean your room and put a lock on the door. Just one little thing, however small, will make a huge difference.
    • But be flexible: There will be times when there is nothing going right. You know it. We’ve all been there. At those times, you can’t expect to be able to do what you had planned, go where you want, wear what you want, maybe even more dire consequences. But the key is to be able to find a way to make choices that are the best in a bad situation. Don’t be afraid to take that sharp left or right turn.
    • Find resilient role models: We have all been through tough times. Maybe you know someone who has been through health problems and survived and thrived. Someone who had financial struggles and started a business and got on their feet. Use these individuals as motivation that you, too, can survive your trials.
    • Be a role model: We are all as parents working so hard to provide the best, safest, most loving homes for our children. They are hurt and we didn’t hurt them. I am so angry that my son is paying for what was done to him that he couldn’t control. But now I want to pay it forward and help others with what I’ve learned and what will hopefully help other children. You can do that too. Wouldn’t it be great if all RAD children could learn from our knowledge and care?
    • Talk it Out: Having a support system when parenting a child with RAD is so valuable. And it doesn’t have to be other RAD parents, though I found that helpful. There are groups on social media, adoption groups if your child is adopted. Maybe it’s just a close friend if you’re not very outgoing. Me, I’ll talk to anybody! But sometimes when it doesn’t feel good in your heart, hearing it out loud can help!
    • Know that You’re Already Doing It: Did your child wake up this morning? Did you feed them? Will they wake up tomorrow? Are you reading this? Then you are doing the work to help your child and be the best parent of a RAD child you can be. You are getting it done. Pat yourself on the back and cut yourself some slack.
    That last bullet is the most valuable. You are already doing it! I would love to hear your stories of resilience. Please feel free to share as you feel comfortable. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

    Reactive Attachment Disorder Reference Guide

    Books When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting with RAD-Reactive Attachment Disorder Nancy Thomas This has long been considered the gold standard in RAD therapy but it is also somewhat controversial. Nancy Thomas was the first person to really write on the subject of RAD in depth. She also has a website and conferences. I did not choose to use her treatment with my son but if you read, you will find many families who swear by her treatment methods. Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control: A Love-Based Approach to Helping Attachment-Challenged Children With Severe Behaviors  Heather T. Forbes and B. Bryan Post This was the second book I read after Nancy Thomas. It’s approach is radically different to hers but has also been very popular. I hoped this method would work with my son but it wasn’t the method that worked for him. His issues were too severe and required more intensive therapy. Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Traumatized Children  Daniel Hughes This book was wonderfully helpful to me. I found its information very real and could understand the connections between an older child’s behavior and the early infant’s trauma. I read almost everything by Daniel Hughes after this book. Parenting Other People’s Children: Understanding and Repairing Reactive Attachment Disorder John L. Stoller This was another book I loved. It explained RAD very well and I think it would be a great book to give to family who may not understand what’s involved in parenting a child with RAD. While it’s not necessarily for a child to have been adopted to have RAD, that is primarily where the illness arises. The Jonathan Letters: One Family’s Use of Support as They Took in, and Fell in Love with, a Troubled Child Michael Trout and Lori Thomas This is a remarkable book. It is as it says a series of letters between a mother and a therapist about a sweet, 4-year-old boy the family chose to foster. It follows their journey of his first year with them and his RAD behaviors unfold in a most profound way. You hear her heartache and resolve to breakthrough and love him and how they work together to reach him in spite of his trauma. It was a great read for me. This is not even close to an exhaustive list. There are nine pages of books on Amazon! But these are ones that I have found helpful over the years I have been living and learning with RAD.  I will continue to develop these resources as I said, over time, and add websites and other tools which I hope will help you all deal with, and maybe avoid, some of what I experienced. Knowledge is power! Till next time! Shannon  

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    International Travel with a RAD…Just Kidding!

    French Mon Dieu, non, je ne connais pas ces enfants qui traversent le Louvre à toute vitesse. Ils sont plutôt mal élevés, non? My goodness, no, I don’t know those kids running through the Louvre at top speed. They are rather badly behaved, no? German Ich freue mich sehr über den herzlichen Empfang, aber wir brauchen nur einen Platz zum Laden von 50 Geräten, danke. I really appreciate the warm welcome, but all we need is a place to charge 50 devices, thanks. Ich bin sicher, dein Weg ist besser, aber sie werden ihn niemals so essen. I’m sure your way is better, but they’ll never eat it that way. Spanish ¿Alguna posibilidad de que este sea uno de los países donde las personas trabajen juntas para criar a todos los niños y que no tenga que lidiar con esto? Any chance this is one of the countries where people work together collectively to raise all the children so I don’t have to deal with this? ¿Qué nos trae a tu pueblo? Una serie de direcciones GPS confusas, en realidad. What brings us to your town? A series of confusing GPS directions, actually. Dutch Je dichtstbijzijnde, grootste en meest privé-toilet, alstublieft. Your nearest, largest, and most private toilet, please. Russian Pozhaluysta, ukazhite mne v blizhaysheye mesto, chtoby kupit’ gelevyye stel’ki, kleykiye povyazki i tu obuv’, na kotoruyu ya poklyalsya, chto nikogda ne nadenu. Please point me to the nearest place to buy gel insoles, adhesives bandages, and the kind of shoes I swore I would never wear. Finnish Kananugetteja. Kaikki kana-nuggets. Vain kana-nuggets. Jokainen kana nugget. Kananugetteja. Chicken nuggets. All the chicken nuggets. Only chicken nuggets. Every chicken nugget. Chicken nuggets. Italian Perché volevamo che vedessero il mondo e perché siamo pazzi. Qualsiasi altra domanda? Because we wanted them to see the world, and because we are fools. Any other questions? Portuguese Na sua opinião, este local turístico vale a pena o esforço necessário para entrar? In your opinion, is this tourist site possibly worth the effort it takes to get in? Gaelic Tha sinn duilich, agus is urrainn dhuinn airgead a thoirt dhut airson sin. We are deeply sorry, and we can give you cash for that. Big thanks to the January issue of “Real Simple” for the phrases! So what other phrases would you need to travel overseas with your RAD child? I’d love to hear them in the comments! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

    Talking to teachers about Reactive Attachment Disorder

    https://youtu.be/xlyBfInS7ec Wouldn’t this be wonderful? For RAD kids, school can be a series of landmines. And teachers can set those mines without even realizing it and certainly without intending to. When August started in school I couldn’t get him and IEP for RAD; I had to get him one for ADHD under the “other health impaired” category. His learning issues didn’t show up on any tests. Yet his behaviors were classic RAD behaviors. It wasn’t until second grade that we found a therapist who gave us a proper diagnosis and fourth grade that we found a school who heard me and I started to find my voice for my son. Below is a letter developed by Nancy Thomas who is one of the most widely recognized therapists in the field of attachment disorder. I purposely do not advocate for any particular treatment on this site as I believe it is up to the parents and the family to decide what is going to be the best for their child and their needs. But this letter does lay out exactly what a teacher can expect from a child and how to respond and how to interact with a child and their family to hopefully get the best outcomes. https://www.attachment.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Letter-to-Teachers.pdf Going forward, we will talk about more specific issues. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, share your stories and sign up by email if you’d like to receive these posts directly to your inbox! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

    AHHH…

    “Here’s a nice way to warm up your body inside and out on a chilly morning: Start by sitting and rubbing your palms together, just as you would to warm up your hands outside. Rub, rub, rub for about 30 seconds (that’s longer than you think), then cup your warm palms over your eyes. Feels good, right? Relax and let the gentle heat from your hands soften your face. Feel the space between your eyebrows releasing, your jaw releasing, your whole face softening. Notice what’s happening with your breath during this nice hand-to-face contact. Is it flowing a bit more easily? Slide your warm hands down your face to your neck, rubbing the tight spots a bit. Then slide them down your torso and let them land on  your legs. Give the tops of your thighs a few rubs, feeling their strength. Then massage your knees in a circular motion, bringing some warmth to these joints. Take your hands around to your lower back, rubbing that broad stretch that tends to get achy. Now let your hands drop down to a comfortable spot on  your lap, take a big breath, and sigh it out. Close your eyes and just sit quietly, breathing your natural breath. Enjoy the space between each breath, when nothing is happening. Stay for as long as feels good. Then slowly open your eyes. Keep that sense of relaxation with you as your stand up and move into your day.” -By Cyndi Lee (cyndilee.com) Cut this out and put it next to your bed or tape it your fridge. Maybe the bathroom mirror if it’s the only place you can be alone! But make yourself this promise to make some time for yourself every day…you cannot be the best parent if you are not the best you. If you like this, please sign up for future posts with your email address and they will come straight to your inbox! And I love comments!]]>

    My First "Family Friday"!

  • Plant a garden. Start with a seed and see how it grows (incrementally) each day. No yard? A cup of soil on the windowsill works just as well. You don’t need a fancy store-bought kit!
  • Get cooking. “It works well because you have to get the ingredients, combine them, and then wait before you get your reward,” says registered nurse Rona Renner.
  • Make a wish list. It’s never too early to start a birthday list. When your child finally gets her coveted toys, the payoff will be especially sweet.
  • Do jigsaw puzzles. Bring on all 400 pieces! Resist the urge to help your child find the place for that one tricky piece.
  • Plan a surprise. It doesn’t have to be a birthday blowout. Your kids will learn the value of delayed gratification, says family physician Deborah Gilboa, even if they’re bringing Dad breakfast in bed.
  • Raise caterpillars. “Every year, I order a cup of caterpillars. First, we wait for the package to arrive, Then it takes 7 to 10 days for the caterpillars to attach to the cup and another week before the emerge as butterflies–a spectacular reward,” says parenting expert Lori Lite.
  • Now with RAD, some of these are easier than others. But hopefully one or two might be a calming activity you can do together or spark some other ideas. Getting that mind engaged and focused where you can see the beautiful mind inside is a reward worth fighting for. Please share your ideas and your success stories! I’d love to hear from you!    ]]>

    What to Say when you Don't know What to Say

  •  Say nothing at all. Sometimes a lot of help is…well, too much. Particularly in the early days of a RAD diagnosis, there is a lot of confusion and chaos as decisions are made about what is best for the child and the family going forward. And with RAD being so unknown, many well-meaning friends and family can offer a lot of unsolicited advice. Being the friend who offers to talk about football, music, cooking, books or anything that reminds us of the happy things in life can be invaluable. Or maybe offering to just come and sit in the quiet. You have no idea how amazing quiet can be.
  • Fall back on a heartfelt cliché. Here’s the honest truth, not a fan of this one. Anyone who’s ever been in my life knows I hate birthday cards that rhyme so naturally clichés wouldn’t work for me either. But in a pinch, they work. A sincere, “I’m sorry for what you’re going through,” can go a long way for tired, sad parents. Don’t be afraid to reach out even if that’s the most you’ve got to say.
  • Acknowledge specific pain. Parents of children with RAD didn’t ask for this. And they didn’t cause this. And neither did their child. They are dealing with the results of either early abuse or trauma prior to the child’s adoption or early medical issues which prohibited infant bonding. But quite possibly the behaviors their child exhibits may cause shame as if they should be “better parents” and that they should be embarrassed over how their children are acting. This pain over feeling this way about their own children can be overwhelming. Listening to your friend or loved one and helping them take away its power will help it dissipate. 
  • Open the door to conversation. When a family has a child with any kind of special needs the instinct is to hide away. It’s just easier. So as a friend or family member, one of the nicest things is to keep them in the light. Don’t let them go down the rabbit hole of being consumed by the child or crisis of the moment. Giving the opportunity to talk of successes or accomplishments will help keep the balance and remind them that it’s not all chaos and disaster. 
  • Say (or text), “Dinner is on your doorstep”. So not everyone is a social butterfly. Some people would rather pull off their fingernails than initiate a conversation. If this sounds like you, but you’d still like to find a way to help out those families with a child with RAD, consider trading words for deeds. Taking a meal is a great option. If you have children of a similar age, offer to take the non-RAD kids for a movie or overnight. If you are a neighbor, shovel the walk when it snows. These may seem like small efforts but you have no idea how much relief they bring a family who is in crisis mode 24/7.
  • I’d love to hear other ideas you may have about what has helped you when you’ve needed it most. When you’ve got a child with RAD it can feel very isolating because the disorder is not very well understood. Thanks for reaching out. We love you friends and family!  ]]>

    A New Blog is Near!

  • Self-care
  • Education
  • Family
  • Well…everything else!
  • With these in mind, I have plans for four posts a week in the categories of:
    • All About Me Monday (self-care, balance)
    • Teacher Tuesday (Education, teacher information, homework ideas)
    • Whatever Wednesday (This will be topical information based on the week’s news, feedback from readers, information I get that I want to share, personal stories)
    • Family Friday (Marriage, siblings, mealtime, discipline)
    I would love your thoughts and ideas of other topics you might like to see. I will also start offering takeaways for teachers and parents as soon as I get rolling with doing four blogs a week! Whew! As always, thank you all for your support as I set off on this new adventure. It is truly a labor of love and I feel you cheering me on! Peace, Shannon  ]]>