RadKid.Org: Reactive Attachment Disorder

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Reactive Attachment Disorder: What Now?

If you are parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder, you will often ask the question, "What more can I do?"

This is not a treatment manual. If you have adopted a child with RAD, or if you have only recently learned that your child suffers from the disorder, I can understand, and indeed share your desire for something - anything - that will work.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any miracle cures out there, or any quick fixes. So far, it appears that raising a radish requires a great deal of patience, structure, and a willingness to accept that the end result may not be what we had hoped for. Yet I am certain that it’s important that we not abandon the hope.

These kids can heal. I know that they can, but it requires attachment therapy, coordinated with attachment parenting.

Read whatever you can get your hands on, but do so with a skeptic’s eye. When Love is Not Enough, by Nancy L. Thomas, was very helpful in understanding the disorder, and we picked up some very good ideas from it, but it seems to be sort of an assortment of information for dealing with a wide variety of radishes. Some of it is obviously for someone much younger than our nephew was when he came to live with us, while other sections are intended for kids who are more severely disordered, even dangerous, and the structure of the book makes it difficult to determine which sections apply. A few of her suggestions seemed, intuitively, wrong, but then we have learned that parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder is indeed counterintuitive. Of all the books I have read on the subject, I recommend this book the most highly, but you might want to try some of the others too.

You’ll certainly want to get some professional help. This is probably already in the works if your child has a diagnosis of RAD, but you should know that traditional therapy hasn’t been very successful, mostly because it is dependent on trust and children with attachment disorders have trouble trusting other people, including the therapist.

Start wherever you are. If your child is seeing a therapist, ask him if he feels that a specialist is necessary and, if so, ask for a referral. There are clinics specializing in the treatment of attachment disorders, and there are respite centers that might be able to help both you and your child get through a particularly bad time. Check references, network, and ask around.

Attachment therapy is a necessity. If your child suffers from reactive attachment disorder, the most significant thing that you can do to help your child is to find a qualified attachment therapist. You don't have to go out and hire one of the big names in the attachment game. Many of the people who have written to books no longer see patients, and those who do tend to be expensive, prohibitively so for many of us. Keep in mind that these folks have trained people all over the world, many of whom none of us have ever heard of, but who are nevertheless qualified to help your child.

If you are looking for a therapist, check out our directory or ask for help in our support forum. Alternatively, you might call one of the larger attachment centers or well-known therapists (whose names are on the books) and ask for a referral to someone nearer to your price range and geographical setting.

Equally important is for you to learn to provide attachment parenting at home. In fact, I don't know that one is of any use without the other. Attachment therapy once a week, absent an appropriate follow-up at home, will likely fail. Conversely, doing all of the right parenting things at home, without availing yourself of attachment therapy, will also probably be unsuccessful. Unless, of course, you are a therapist.

Attachment therapy and attachment parenting go together, and they should be coordinated. Attachment therapy involves the parents as well as the child, so your child's therapist shouldn't be a stranger to you. Talk to your therapist about anything that you are thinking of trying at home.

In this section, we have included some ideas and tips, things that you can do to help your child at home, as well as a few of the techniques that your therapist may or may not want to try during therapy sessions. There's nothing really controversial here, but you should discuss any interventions with your therapist, so that parenting and therapy can be coordinated.

Also, ask your therapist for ideas for dealing with your child at home. Be involved in your child’s therapy, and stay involved. An attachment therapist will insist on it.

Information received in part from experience and observation, from ideas suggested by participants in our online support forum, and also from:

Last Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009

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