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Reactive Attachment Disorder: Why We Use the Term “RADish” Here

RADish, the Term

Some of you have quite reasonably suggested that the term radish, when used to refer to a child with reactive attachment disorder, is disrespectful.

We wouldn’t ordinarily speak of a child with AIDS as an AIDS kid, nor would we speak of a child with cancer as a tumor. So when we speak of a child with reactive attachment disorder as a radish or as a RAD kid, I would agree that this is disrespectful. Similarly, it may be inappropriate to refer to a child as RAD, not to mention grammatically incorrect. We don’t usually refer to children by the name of the disorder or disease from which they suffer.

I agree, and I would never refer to my nephew as a RADish in conversation with anyone other than another parent of child with reactive attachment disorder. I think of him by his name, and I usually refer to him by his name. I think this is true of most of us.

So why do we use these terms?

Simply speaking, these terms are a form of shorthand and a way in which we can seek support and talk about our children in a public place while protecting their privacy. Discussing the problems of raising a child with reactive attachment disorder in a public forum, a parent will probably not want to use the child’s name; and when the parent has more than one child, only one of which has the disorder, other people in the forum wouldn’t know one child from another, and the resulting conversation would be confusing.

Thus we may speak of our nephew as a radish, or simply say that he is RAD. These terms may be disrespectful and grammatically incorrect, but we know what we mean by it, and we’re not talking to anyone else. While anyone is welcome to read, to learn, and to participate in this place, as well as the associated forum, we are primarily here for the parents and caregivers of children with attachment disorder.

Because we live in a small town in which most people have Internet access, we do not want this site associated with our nephew’s name or the town in which we live in such a way that it will come up on Internet searches of the name of the town, nor do we feel that it is desirable that anyone else associate his name with reactive attachment disorder.

He has enough problems as it is, and we don’t want to add a label to the long list of things that he has to learn to put behind him. His public face is important to him, and I don’t see a point in betraying it outside of the family.

I show respect for him where it counts, as an individual, rather than concerning myself with the terms that I use to refer to his anonymous self on a web site or in a public forum.

I think this is true of all of us.

Last Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009

 

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