Attachment disorder, personal memories

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by PamLynne, May 1, 2009.

  1. PamLynne

    PamLynne Budgie

    Hello, this is my first day (night) on this site. I just finished a laborious reply to someone else's post on an unrelated subject--I hate to think I'll have to write all that again--however I think it's important.

    I believe I may have/may have had, as a child, reactive attachment disorder (disinhibited type). Unlike the better known type I had, as a child, a tendency to be overly trusting, naiive, to walk up to complete strangers in the schoolyard and initiate conversations about whatever subject happened to be on my mind. I guess I expected to be accepted into their group or clique immediately, but was cruelly hurt time and time again by their ridicule, rejection, social ostracism--this was right after The Second Divorce, when Mom moved me and herself in with Grandma and I had to enter third grade in the middle of the year, abruptly. I didn't know anyone in school and was socially awkward from the start. I recall the first day--having been accustomed to playing by myself (which I'd done before the move to another city, preferring rocking on the rocking horse to playing with the group in Kindergarten, having taken to bouncing a rubber ball in first and second grades, alone, during recess) I decided to play "horsie" and loped around the playground, off by myself, as the other kids played in groups. One boy came up to me and called out, "Retard-o!" (I thought "Retardo" must be some fictional horse character, and the word sounded romantic, so it must be a compliment.) Later I asked another kid in line to go back into class what "Retardo" meant. "It means you're stupid," he replied.

    That's how the misery began. As the shyness wore off I'd sometimes walk up to the other kids and try to initiate some game I'd chosen (oblivious to the unspoken social rule, you have to play the game in progress, chat on the subject the others are talking about--dress like they do, imitate their behavior) and wind up being victimized by verbal repercussions like, "Why are you wearing a mask? It isn't Halloween!" or the humiliation of becoming the focus of never-ending, relentless ridicule. Somehow I'd never developed the level of awareness that allows normal children to estimate how they must appear in others' eyes, full self-awareness--at least, not at that age--and was just as happy by myself as with others, and somehow lacked the intuitive awareness of others' motives or intentions. They must be "evil" kids, I decided--and I took to avoiding others and retreating into a world of fantasy, being content to be alone, as the inherent need for social interaction had failed to develop normally. (I even recall wishing everyone else on Earth would disappear, so I could play with all the toys I could ever want--without harassment or ridicule, or having to ask Mom to pay for them.)

    At the age of 12, because of frequent class disruptions, I was taken to a Day Treatment Center for children with severe behavior problems and, after being tested, found to have an abnormally high IQ for my age. I also recall being told my emotional development was "retarded" at the age of a 3-year-old. The psychologists believed this was due to my parents' divorce at that age, although I still have clear memories of my early childhood and don't recall "walking around the house like a zombie" as my mother claimed, devoid of emotion--I could recall, years later, gazing up at the face of my "new daddy" as he pronounced the word, "Pardon?" in response to something I'd said. I didn't know what that word meant. I asked Mom, who explained it meant, "excuse me." I think if the divorce had been such a shock, I would have been more amnesiac.

    If anything had been a shock in my early childhood it had to be my relationship with my stepfather--which could be called emotionally abusive--I don't know what Mom was up to when he did things to scare me (though I don't recall sexual abuse--as he did to my older sister, I learned years later) and why she didn't keep the pornographic magazines out of my reach (the ones I was so eager to page through, looking at the pictures). I don't recall any bad memories of Mom--only that she and he worked, so I came home from Kindergarten and had to phone--but have few memories of her, from that age, so I'm not sure how close a relationship we had. I don't recall it being close. I don't recall. I'm sure she meant well, but maybe the strained relationship with my stepdad was taking its toll on her nerves.

    Currently I'm unemployed, on disability for paranoid schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (though I'm in doubt), take my medications regularly (though they don't alter my thought process in the slightest), and still tend to start friendly conversations with total strangers everywhere I go, though I have no close friendships. If anyone with a kid having this disability (or related) would like to comment, I'd be pleased to read it. Thanks.
  2. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Welcome Pamlynne
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome to the board. Many of your experiences sound familiar to me from my own childhood. And also from what I remember my mother telling me from her childhood. I am bipolar and I believe my mother was schizoaffective.

    Im sorry you experienced all that.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome.

    My honest opininion?
    Have you ever heard of Asperger's Syndrome.
    in my opinion it sounds a lot more like Aspergers than anything else to be. Aspergers is often mistaken for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Aspies may desperately want to make freinds, but have no idea about social cues and need to be taught in a very specific way. The rocking on the horse is also sort of a symptom of Aspergers. And not understanding how to interact with your peers. Here's a link you can look at and also some criteria:

    Diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome is made in terms of one or both of two main sets of diagnostic criteria: the DSM-IV criteria, and Gillberg's criteria (published by Swedish psychiatrist Christopher Gillberg).


    (A) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

    1. marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
    2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
    3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
    4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity.

    (B) Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

    1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
    2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, non-functional routines or rituals
    3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
    4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

    (C) The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

    (D) There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

    (E) There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

    (F) Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.


    1. Severe impairment in reciprocal social interaction
    (at least two of the following)

    (a) inability to interact with peers
    (b) lack of desire to interact with peers
    (c) lack of appreciation of social cues
    (d) socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior

    2. All-absorbing narrow interest
    (at least one of the following)

    (a) exclusion of other activities
    (b) repetitive adherence
    (c) more rote than meaning

    3. Imposition of routines and interests
    (at least one of the following)

    (a) on self, in aspects of life
    (b) on others

    4. Speech and language problems
    (at least three of the following)

    (a) delayed development
    (b) superficially perfect expressive language
    (c) formal, pedantic language
    (d) odd prosody, peculiar voice characteristics
    (e) impairment of comprehension including misinterpretations of literal/implied meanings

    5. Non-verbal communication problems
    (at least one of the following)

    (a) limited use of gestures
    (b) clumsy/gauche body language
    (c) limited facial expression
    (d) inappropriate expression
    (e) peculiar, stiff gaze

    6. Motor clumsiness: poor performance on neurodevelopmental examination
    (All six criteria must be met for confirmation of diagnosis.)

    There is no specific treatment or cure for any of the PDDs, including Asperger's Syndrome. However, early diagnosis is essential, for the earlier intervention is initiated, the more promising the outcome. Treatment is individualized, based on specific symptoms and rehabilitative requirements. Appropriate educational programs will emphasize improving communication skills and social interaction, enhancing academic development, modifying maladaptive behaviors, encouraging adaptive behaviors, improving physical coordination, and developing daily living skills.

    Social skills are more effectively developed through interaction with normal peers, who then can also serve as models of appropriate behavior and use of language. But the educational environment must also be structured and consistent, and information should be presented visually as well as verbally. In order to help the child with Asperger's to generalize behaviors and skills learned at school, they need also to be reinforced at home. Thus parental involvement is absolutely essential to an integrated developmental program for an Asperger's child.

    Intervention may also require medication, including psychostimulants, tricyclic antidepressants, and beta-blockers. As the individual with Asperger's enters adulthood, he or she may also need specialized adult support services in order to locate and maintain employment and living arrangements.

    This is not to suggest that there is any cognitive impairment in the Asperger's individual. On the contrary, those with Asperger's have no clinically significant delay in language development or in cognitive abilities. Many with Asperger's are of average intelligence, but many are actually highly gifted and even brilliant. People with Asperger's often obtain one or more college degrees, and they may become mathematicians, philosophers, scientists, university professors, etc. But adult functioning usually requires some degree of communication skill and social adaptability, and these are notably lacking in Asperger's Syndrome, which is why adult support services are often helpful or even necessary.

    What else is often lacking is comprehension of the nonliteral aspects of language, especially spoken language. Just as they miss nonverbal signals when interacting with others, people with Asperger's usually are stymied by humor, irony, metaphor, or any other use of language that goes beyond literal meaning. This makes normal interaction with coworkers or acquaintances difficult.

    Of all the pervasive developmental disorders, Asperger's Syndrome has the most positive prognosis, and children with Asperger's more often than not become independently functioning adults. However, their social impairments often lead to psychological difficulties, including poor self-image and depression, and as adults their social interactions will continue to be marked by typical Asperger's disturbances, though usually in more subtle form if intervention has been initiated early and successfully.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome PamLynne :)

    Did you snitch a page out of my childhood?? Wow. You me and Janet could just about be triplets.

    I haven't given my childhood much thought in years. Not looking at it that way at least. Hmmm. Makes me stop and think.

    I've been diagnosed bipolar, although I'm not certain I agree with the diagnosis. No mania.

    My mother is paranoid schizophrenic. My aunt was schizo as well, but if she'd been diagnosed in today's world she'd been schizoaffective. It runs in the family.

    Good for you for sticking with treatment even though you don't feel like it's working. That is hard to do, I know. Maybe if medications aren't working you should look into having a new evaluation done or a medication change.

  6. Jena

    Jena New Member

    Pam welcome!

    Sounds like you are a survivor just as many of us are, so welcome again. I'm glad you have medications that you can take to help, yet you have to also be kind to you in realizing that sometimes memories can surpress and return years later or just the feelings of those surpressed memories.

    by the way, not identical childhood but wow i think we may all be related lol. be kind to you

  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome! You are a true survivor. I agree with MWM that Asperger's Syndrome would fit what you have told us better than Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). But I am NOT qualified to diagnose, it is JUST an opinion.

    I remember going through so many of the things you describe. Being called retarded or "homo" and not knowing what it meant. there were other, crueler words, some of which my PARENTS didn't even understand when I asked them.

    The playground experience you describe was my elementary school experience.

    And we only moved once - when I was 13.

    Anyway, glad you could join us!
  8. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Welcome, Pam! The only thing I can add is it is not unusual for someone with a high IQ does not exactly fit the real world. Trust me...I have a husband and a son that suffer from this disorder.;) You'd think it would be good, but many times not. They don't understand why people don't fit into their way of thinking because they think they're always right because they're so smart. Well, let me give you a high-five, guys. I don't know if there is a 'smartness medication' that would cure this...haha... but it stinks being on the receiving end of it. (Yes, I know I ended a sentence incorrectly, but I don't care.) I think that is what frustrates them the most. I WILL END MY SENTENCE IN A PREPOSITION WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!!!

    You're new, which is wonderful. You don't know me, but I've done lots in my life with a somewhat smart brain. (Star, Daisy, Toto, and whomever else...don't join in. They will deny that statement. See...I used whom properly.) :tongue:

    Last edited: May 3, 2009
  9. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen being the brilliant person (ha!) I am can't get rid of the crud at the end of my post. (It was HUGE coding stuff.) Sigh...I'm going to bed. Maybe I need to get rid of Netscape. It's like losing a good friend.

    Geez...after having to bow down to IE, I fixed it. Sorry.

  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Abbey sometimes when a browser starts messing with you, you have a nasty virus or trojan on the computer. Happened to me with IE. Most especially when I came here, although it would do annoying stuff on other sites too. I downloaded firefox and didn't have the same issues........Except that wasn't the problem. I had a trojan......Travis eventually had to completely wipe the computer to get rid of it because it had infected so many files.

    Run a virus scan to be sure.

  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi PamLynne,

    I have to admit, Asperger's popped into my head, too. You're way too linear for schizoaffective disorder. Any chance you could go to a neuropsychologist for an updated evaluation?
    Things like a high IQ, coupled with-lack of cueing into social situations is very Aspie. Also, that your medications don't alter your thought process. What sort of medications are you on? You can still take some medications like Prozac, if you're an Aspie.
    Did you do other motion-related things besides rock on a rocking horse? You may want to research that a bit.

    I suspect your "disorder" was present from the beginning, and your step dad's abuse just made everything worse.

    Do you still have meltdowns or rages? If so, what triggers them? Lights? Loud noises?

    Do you hear voices randomly, that actually interfere with-your own thoughts? I'm curious as how the schizoaffective diagnosis was made.
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. Your description sounds very much like my difficult child daughter and her difficult child son combined. It is not an easy combo of characteristics to accept and then cope with in daily living. I hope finding us helps you as well as others who may benefit from your experiences. DDD
  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Pam!
  14. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Welcome Pam.
    When I read your post, my first thought was also Aspergers. I agree with Terry's suggestion that a neuropsychologist evaluation might help you to pinpoint what's truly going on, so that you can look into getting the best possible interventions for you.

    I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) as a young adult, and it answered so many questions about my childhood etc. that just couldn't really be explained before.

    Just to get an informal idea, try doing this quiz.

    It's totally informal, and not a diagnostic tool by any stretch of the imagination, but it's loosely based on research by Simon Baron-Cohen, and can help you to see if you have any pointers to Asperger's syndrome.

    So glad you found us. This is such a safe place.
  15. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    A few of the things you mentioned sounded very eerily like my childhood. We didn't move till I was 14, and after that I did a little bit better. I'm still a loner though.

    Also, several posts have mentioned a high IQ and not being in touch with the "real world". Maybe it's because we see the world the way it could be and are planning how we will change it. Maybe not. I'm not qualified to say whether or not that's right!