Can someone explain me more about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) & therapies for it

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SuZir, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    This may be little sensitive topic and I really don't want to offend, but I'm bit confused. I have noticed term Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and attachment disorder used here in the way I'm not familiar to. I'm basically only familiar with ICD-10 and DSM-IV definitions. I'm also very familiar with attachment theory and attachment parenting (in the way meant by those who are big believers in William Sears.) I followed those principals especially with my easy child and at the time I was very sure it was The Way to go. Later I have reconsidered and now think it is an excellent way to go, but not the only possible nor always the best for every family way. However I did enjoy it and I think it gave my easy child a very good start for life.

    However I have followed some links provided here that have had some very confusing information about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) for me. Diagnostic criteria that has nothing to do with ICD or DSM, lists which basically provide every possible disturbing thing kid can do and name it a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Okay, I understand the need to talk about kids who have very disturbed behaviours and I understand their parents have to be worried silly, but same time some pages I found following those links seem to provide rather odd or even disturbing quick fixes. Much less there was talk about therapies and approaches I'm familiar with kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) like theraplay, sensitive parenting etc. that have been working wonders with some kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in my extended family (older, institutionalised adopted kids from Russia and younger one from China.)

    Some of the parenting/therapy methods in this Attachment Therapy I read about I found frankly disturbing and abusive. I read more about the matter last spring but didn't want to ask here because I feared it could be offensive and almost forgot the matter. But there is local, very recent, absolutely disgusting court case about the torture murder of the young child. Child was killed by her parents in horrible way after several weeks torture after child was reunited with them after CPS involvement. Mother had set up very Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)-like symptoms (not the ICD/DSM variety Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but this other Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)) like cutting and destroying clothes, peeing and pooping inappropriately etc. Child didn't do any of those behaviours while under CPS care and police believes they were done by mother also at home. Mother falsely claimed to be health professional who had experience of caring of disturbed children and she claimed the tortures methods they used were therapeutic parenting. This is huge fail for our CPS and hopefully will change some of our extremely bio-parent friendly procedures, but when I read the details from papers I found it very disturbing how much the methods used in torturing this child reminded those I read from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) pages.

    Many here write about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and while I certainly don't believe you would be using those extreme and even abusive methods with your kids, I would like to know what exactly is meant with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). And how common/rare are these very heavy handed methods talked about in some of the Attachment Therapy/therapeutic parenting pages?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have no idea how common Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is, but i think that if the child has no central figure in his early life and lives in an orphanage or is not with any particular parental figure in those early years, there has to be some attachment issues. I certainly lived that with my psycho adopted son R. I never met a kid who did the things that he did and was diagnosed with severe reactive attachment disorder when he was removed from our home and intensively diagnosed. I personally am skeptical of any diagnosis of attachment disorder if the child had loving parents and no breaks in attachment in the early years. That's when I start spacing out if somebody says "Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)." Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) also is only supposed to be diagnosed if the situation of the child's life fits and if everything else has been ruled out first.

    The child we adopted with the severe Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was 11 when he came to us, set fires, killed two of our animals and sexual abused my youngest two k ids at knifepoint. My daughter saw him choking a neighbor's cat and humping a neighbor boy on top of the stuff he did at home. THIS I have no doubt is attachment disorder. But there is a spectrum and unattached kids don't have to be that horrible. They can just be....unattached to the family. Like the child I adopted at six.

    I do not agree with all the wacky Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) methods. It is a personal decision how you treat your Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) c hild. In our case, since this boy was so incredibly dangerous and also tricky and sneaky, we decided to let CPS take him without fighting to stay in contact with him. I doubt by his age anything could have helped him.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a very narrow definition - essentially, it requires that the kid form NO loving attachments in the first three years of life. Which means, the kids who have this will either be severely neglected/abused, or will have come from situations like overseas orphanages.

    Insecure attachment is a broader brush - and, from experience, I can tell you that it is possible for a kid with secure attachment to become detached at a later age and end up with various attachment issues... but not Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    There's all sorts of extreme and extremely dangerous approaches out there to fix all sorts of "behaviour" problems (not just Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)) - the real problem being, the issue isn't the behaviour it's the source of the behaviour, and unless you can fix the source of the behaviour, you will either be ineffective or destructive. I've heard of a few Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids being turned around, but not by the kinds of extremes you were mentioning... I've seen insecurely attached kids turned around... again, never by those methods.
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Wow, not sure what to say. Obviously there were some communications issues (to say the least) in the case in your area. With L, there wasn't a lot of knowledge of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) at the time, and given our very limited input to her upbringing we never did much research into treatment. I haven't looked at the links here lately. I believe that L has the disinhibited form of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but that is my uneducated personal opinion. I believe she is a sociopath, and that the constant changes of parents/caretakers combined with constant undermining of her worth and the worth of the people who loved her from aged 1 month to 7 years are the root cause of that. Is it Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? I don't know. I think so. I could be wrong.

    FWIW, punishment and minimizing worth is no way to bring up any child. Whatever punishment is given to this woman who killed this child should go for the protective agent that put her back in harm's way. JMHO.
  5. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    There are no quick fixes with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and I've never seen a parent here with a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) even hint at that, much less try them.
  6. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Sorry, my orginal post was probably confusing. I didn't mean I had read anything about quick fixes or questionable methods from here. I did read about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) that clearly is something else than Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) I knew beforehand (ICD/DSM-Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) doesn't really speak about behavioural problems, only about attachment.) This other Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) seems to have a lot to do with very disturbing behaviours. I followed some links I did find here and followed some other links from those pages etc. And that was when I started to find methods I think questionable and very harsh and kind of quick fix approach. I didn't want to imply that anyone here would be a fan of those methods, but I just wanted to ask more information about the topic. For example if you know, how popular that kind of approach really is (In Internet it easy to make anything look big and almost mainstream.) Some of the criteria I saw (and even one test about if your child could have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or something) was very inclusive. In fact even my easy child would have qualified for 'possible Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)' and 'dangerous to live home at' with that test. I do understand that page was only trying to sell some therapy/two week intensive camp/whatever, that would solve all problems in the child and was not credible source at all. And of course it is easier to miracle cure a child who really doesn't have much a problem to begin with, so better to make it look like typical, even quite mild, pubescent moodiness (like with my easy child) would be a sure sign of pudding serial killer and treat that. At the time I just found it weird and possibly abusive but mostly just shrugged it off.

    It was only when I read about this local case, that really has a lot of similarities to this other form of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and it's treatment, that I begun to think about the matter more and became curious how 'popular' this concept really is in USA and how common these alternative treatments are? In this local case it seems clear that the child didn't have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and wasn't too disturbed in other ways either. Neither can I believe that parents thought they were treating Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), or maybe father did, because he may have believed that child had exhibited all those disturbing behaviours mother claimed she had. But anyway their actions were so purely sadistic (they for example videotaped many of the torture and humiliation sessions) that it is difficult to believe in any 'better motives.' And parents can not even claim getting tired and not having help. They fight to get kid back from foster care and killed the child right before they believed she would be taken back to care (after several complaints from teachers, neighbours etc.) So kid would had been out of their hands in few days anyway. So this case certainly isn't about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) treatment went awry, but someone copying many Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) 'treatment methods' to torture other human being.

    But many of those methods are so, that it is easy to see, how easily they could turn to abuse with frustrating child even when applied with the purest motives.

    You are very right that no one seems to believe in quick fixes or magic pills in this forum. While i'm sure everyone of us would love to get that magic pill or quick fix method, and at times may say it aloud, I think we are all too battle weary to believe magic pills or tooth faeries any more. (I do hold for my believe in Santa Claus though)
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The root of the problem in Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is lack of attachment. But, because the child ends up feeling that the whole world is against them and that the only one they can rely on is themself... all sorts of inappropriate behaviors come into the picture.

    If it truly is a case of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), those who just try to fix the behaviors... have lost the battle before they start. No matter what methods are used. Those who try to fix the ability to relate and build some form of healthy attachment... may still lose the battle, depending on a raft of factors - but it is the only approach that has positive outcomes.

    If Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is not accurate but there is insecure attachment at some level... just trying to fix the behaviors can be as disasterous as the same approach with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    Most of the world doesn't understand the need to find and fix the problem (fill in the blank on almost any difficult child problem source...) - the focus is on fixing the behavior. If you don't know what you're dealing with for a problem, the solution applied may be disasterous - even in a purely medical situation... like some of the stories on the recent watercooler thread. Why would psychological and developmental issues be any different?
  8. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I don't know exactly what "treatments" you are talking about, but it is safe to say that they aren't going to be popular. If those are ads you are reading, those "treatment" programs are going to be very expensive and not covered by insurance which on its own is going to limit their use.
  9. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Which would likely explain quick fix idea. The parents may be desperate and ready to pay what they can afford (and some more) but that isn't much, so they sell short, quick fix approach, which wouldn't be that expensive. Of course there was no prices in those webpages, but I think they are likely to be high.

    'Treatment' seemed to be very obedience based and to be frank, punitive. Idea seemed to be to take all control away from child (have to ask for everything, a lot of isolation, no free time or time to play, lot of chores, harsh 'logical consequences', keeping child in the state of not knowing about big things in their life (like how long they would be kept in treatment and if they would be allowed to go back home at all), children having to earn everything, even normal food, rather cold attitude to child if you ask me), very mother-centric ideas (only attachment between mother and child really matters etc.), connecting attachment and obedience and some very weird ideas of transferring attachment from therapeutic parent to real parent (by basically making a child do obedience training tricks with mom.) Also really a lot of talk how nothing else but this Attchment Therapy works with these kids and all mainstream therapies just make these kids worse.

    I do get that for traumatised child clear boundaries and structure can create feeling of safety. But child doesn't learn empathy if they are not showed it and that was not something those 'treatments' seemed to do. They seemed to be meant for shocking kids to short term obedience, nothing more. I do get that some traumatized kids are so damaged that they can not be helped and need to be looked after very strictly to prevent them harming others or themselves. But I very much doubt that those kids are helped any more by frankly abusing them some more.
  10. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    OMG, you opened a can of worms with this thread. There are definitely questionable treatments for the truly attachment disordered child, and in many states those treatments have been outlawed because they are abusive, sometimes life threatening. There are "underground" treatments offered by some therapists.

    Saying the above, the generally accepted Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapies that I've utilized have been about control in many ways but not punitive in any way.

    The attachment disordered child is all about control. That child will control any situation in every way possible. Positive, negative, loving, hateful, aggressive & passive. You never know what to expect of this child. The attachment disordered child will do anything to push away a caregiver before that caregiver hurts or abandons him/her. The child must give up the level of control they used to survive yet must be given control in other areas of their lives.

    My husband & I used reparenting. We rocked, bottle-fed, used nooks, made beds as crib like as possible, played with blocks on the floor, even fed the tweedles. All this at the ages of 6 through 9 years of age. We cont'd on with nurturing and choices. We gave the tweedles choices we could live with while giving the sense of control they sorely needed due to their Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It's an incredible balancing act.

    Parents of attachment disordered children become desperate. The level of chaos brings a parent to their knees on a daily basis. You become conditioned to chaos while doing your darnedest to bring structure into the mix.

    Parenting an attachment disordered child is not for the faint of heart. It a roller coaster ride of emotions that a parent likely has never felt before. It's the continual trial of parenting a child who essentially refuses to be parented.

    I hope this answers some of your questions.