My RAD Child
When I say RAD you may think of a child that is far beyond the normal. Well, mine is in a way. You see, in this case RAD stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder. If you haven't heard of this condition before, you're not alone!
What is RAD? It occurs whenever a child's basic physical and emotional needs are neglected during infancy. This results in the child developing a resistance to social interaction, their seeking of isolation, their being difficult to comfort, and their avoiding physical contact, especially from the caregiver.
While RAD may sound like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), they are different from each other. Usually PTSD is a "starting point" for a child to be diagnosed with RAD. They are similar in that: (1.) Both have been caused by trauma. (2.) Both cause night terrors. (3.) Both lead the children to have tantrums or shut down in fear over incidents that remind them of the traumatic event. These children may even act blank at times, seemingly loosing their place in time. (4.) They rage after being exposed to something that reminds them of the frightening situation - hitting, punching and seeming to fight for their lives. (5.) They are hypervigilant (constantly on high alert). The primary difference between RAD and PTSD lies in the fact that due to the trauma in RAD children being caused by their first primary caretakers, these children are not easily comforted by their caretakers. RAD children also resist social interaction and physical contact.
There are a few things that need to be done to help these RAD children. First of all, they need to be living in a safe environment where their emotional and physical needs are met. Secondly, the parents must learn therapeutic parenting. These specialized parenting techniques are meant to help the child. They are much more effective whenever they're supported by your community. Things such as encouraging your child to practice trusting you as a family, meaning that they need full front-to-front hugs, deep eye gazing, and lap-sitting with their nuclear family. This, of course, takes a lot of time and energy. Parents need to understand their child's behaviors and how he/she looks at themselves and the world around them. This means understanding that the children have learned to see adults as uncaring, mean, rejecting, violent, unreliable, unresponsive, and/or absent. This obviously cannot be changed by simply placing them in a better environment. It takes work!
Oftentimes, RAD parents need lots of encouragement too. These RAD children can have some very negative effects upon their parents, including: (1.) Parental dreams are dashed. (2.) There is an apparent frustration present due to the lack of bonding. (3.) RAD children often vent their hatred toward their mother. (4.) There's an apparent close bond with their father. (5.) There's a lot of external criticism of parents. (5.) Holidays are often difficult due to the child's anger. (6.) Parents may appear hostile, angry and defensive.
If you know someone who has a RAD child, I encourage you to encourage them... They both need and deserve it! If you yourself have a RAD child, I encourage you to keep up the good fight as you're your child's best source of wellness. If you are in neither position, please pray for those of us who are in these positions!