Newbie intro- frustrated mom of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) teen

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by EndangeredCheerleader, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. I registered here back in September but have put off posting up until now.

    I am a mom of four teens- two bio boys, two adopted girls (unrelated, joined family at 2.5 and 3.5 years old). Three children have special needs. Son, age 13 has aspergers; daughter, age 14 has tourettes; and daughter, age 13 is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). For a long time, I blamed myself for their issues and for feeling so overwelmed. I know, it's not rational and there is no way that I caused tics... but it's hard not to think if I just did XYZ, I could solve the behavioral issues of the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child or lack of coping skills for the one on the spectrum. Does this make sense? How can one family have so many children with diagnoses?! It must be MY parenting.

    Son15 is great. Son13 and Daughter14 are currently doing well. GFG13 is the child in crisis. She equates sympathy with love and has left a trail of lies in her wake. She has no friends (except for a few other kids who are just a screwed up as her) because people feel used once they realise she has played their emotions. She has claimed her father's a drunk, he was incarcerated, he died in a wreck, her parents were in the midst of a bitter divorce, her mother (me) won't get out of bed in the morning to drive her to school, her mother beats her.... the list is long and horrible. I try to block it out and move on because thinking about it breaks my heart.

    I pulled her out of the local public school last year. She was not passing classes and was starting to skip out (pierced her bellybutton in the school bathroom rather than head to class one day). She is currently enrolled in a cyberschool through our state. I'm now finding this set up frustrating because it relies on her being honest about assignments... not a great fit for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child. We had her retested for learning disabilities and results were she is borderline retarded (which she's not). I know that I should not be suprised she scored low on purpose, I'm honestly not, but it's still horribly frustrating. This same kid once tested into a level two tumbling class with the gym owner and then pretended she could not do a cartwheel when she was with instructors. Her sister informed me yesterday, GFG13 has been messaging former friends saying I wake her at 4AM to start homeschooling. Good grief! I try to remove the opportunity to lie and she creates new ways for no reason. Why?!?!

    So today, I'm sad. I do not know how to save the girl from herself. She's hellbent on creating drama. I do not know why CPS has never knocked on my door. It won't be a shock when they do. And I resent her for that. It's hard not to. My other children would have to deal with case workers because GFG13 wants to portray her life as an afterschool special for sympathy. And then I'm ticked at myself for resenting her. She came to us severely underweight, spent her first 2.5 years ignored in an orphanage, I knew there could be damage.

    She is not currently seeing a psychiatrist. We did therapy for a while and she loooved going. It was fun and her attention seeking behaviors just escalated. I quit scheduling therapy the day she asked if we could do two appointments a week. Right now, her regular pediatritian prescribes concerta and has suggested adding intunive which we are researching. The concerta does calm her down some.

    I had hoped to send her back to public school for highschool but it's looking like her best course is homeschool. We can not trust her to change classes. She's not willing to work to her potential with strangers whom she can manipulate. I'm having a hard time processing the girl is never going to have the normal school experience I wished for her- prom, cheerleading or dance teams, friends!, favorite teachers. I feel horrible for isolating her from peers. Today, I'm feeling very sad. I was researching how to keep high school transcripts and ended up coming here. I guess I need to hear from others who might understand.
  2. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    EndangeredCheerleader, welcome. You have more than had your hands full. I'm glad your other three are doing well right now. You have certainly found a safe place to land where you will find much support.

    I'm sorry you are feeling very sad today. The loss of dreams we have for our children is difficult to come to terms with, at least it was for me. No advice tonight just want to send some supportive hugs your way. Others will be around soon; sometimes the weekends are a little slower.
  3. Thanks for the welcome, Wiped Out.

    My pity party won't last long. Things are not even bad. GFG13 is learning much more at home than she was in regular school. I guess the dream for her is changing and that is daunting. Trying to process it.
  4. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hello and welcome,
    I also have two adopted children, but I don't have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) experience. I am so sorry you are going through this mess - adoption can sometimes be so difficult and frustrating, as it comes with its own unique challenges.
    The only thing I'd suggest, if you're not already doing so, is to keep a journal of everything that's going on - dates, times, who said what, etc. When you deal with someone that manipulative, you may need it someday.
    Are your other kids in therapy? I'm sure they're stressed out and affected by all this, too.
    Keep posting here - very helpful and encouraging people. Take care.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. Anther adoptive mother. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a very serious illness. Has she ever had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy? When you first got her?

    Adopted kids tend to have more issues for many reasons, none of it parenting. Their birthparents pass along gentic problems. They sometimes do not get prenatal care and/or use alcohol/drugs while pregnant. That damages the poor c hild for life. My one son we adopted at two whose birthmother had no prenatal care and used drugs has a form of autism. The doctors thinks the drugs caused it or at least helped it along.

    Older adopted kids usually had such horrible infancies and toddlerhoods, with no special caregiver nurturing them, that it is almost unreasonable to expect them not to have huge problems. We used to call this "failure to thrive." It can be emotional as well as physical. My experience both in adopting children and in being active in a large adoptive parent group is that if you adopt children, especially those who are not infants, you are going to be dealing with a lot of problems, sometimes Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), often some sort of attachment issues if not full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It is rarely an easy ride if one decides to adopt older children. Sometimes babies by six months old have been so neglected they are already damaged, but if you get help very early it can sometimes be reversed.

    Of course, they don't tell us this when we adopt. We learn the hard way...real life. The truth is, you can not love these problems away and DNA, by the way, is huge. They will often, if not usually, be more like their biol. family, even if they never met them, than like you. NOT ALWALYS. I have a son whose birthmother was an addict who left him and he is the sweetest soul on earth, but I wonder sometimes if his birthmother was a sweet soul too, and then poverty got her involved with drugs and screwed her up. At any rate, don't blame yourself. The lying is part of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)...they trust nobody, and they were conditioned early on to trust nobody. It's not you. It's their hard wiring. I am not sure help is out there for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids as old as your daughter, but you may want to look into it. A regular psychiatrist and therapist, who don't study adoptive kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), probably won't help you at all. Understand that the behavior makes sense to your daughter based on her early years. Understand that YOU DID NOT CAUSE ANY OF THIS. But she didn't cause her behavior either. I know that doesn't help. I had a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child who was so dangerous we had to let him go and I really can't feel sympathy toward him because he hurt my other children. But the fact is, he was doomed before he was even a year old.'s sad. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids not only don't want to be loved, it scares them and they push us away sometimes in socially unacceptable ways or even criminal ways.

    Welcome here and I hope you keep posting. We'll do all we can to help.
  6. HaoZi

    HaoZi CD Hall of Fame

    Hi there, I'm an adoptee myself (7 months). I don't have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), so I can't speak to that, per se, but I will echo that GFG13 needs a specialist with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) experience. Not just any therapist or psychiatrist can do this stuff. I had to search up and down to find the find doctor to test my daughter for autism - she appears very high-functioning and no one wanted to test her at all. When I finally located a specialist who could do the testing? She's actually lower-functioning than she appears to be, her verbal scores and intelligence just make her seem much higher. Finding the right therapist and psychiatrist is key, righting the medication or medication cocktail is key.

    And don't overlook the stress this puts on the other kids and yourself, they and you may well benefit from some therapy, too. Living with someone like GFG13 is hard. My daughter is great on her good days, but on her bad days has massive violent rages. I've been diagnosis'd with anxiety and PTSD from dealing with her and am on medications myself to handle it. Make sure you take care of everyone, including yourself.
  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi! Another adoptive mom with a son with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). We did intensive Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) specific therapy when he was young but still have issues. I almost think (gonna sound weird) that "fortunately " he IS cognitively impaired and autistic so he gets caught easily in lies and always tells on himself. He does care what people think and that helps. But he has always said things that accuse me, luckily obvious (he's going to tell people I poured sugar on him today, lol.....yeah i did flip some out of the cup I had in my hand when he slapped my back! ) I reminded him that the police have tests to see if he's lying and he believes me.

    MWM is right on about what she says. And everything I've learned? You did the right thing stopping that form of therapy. I've read and been told that non specialized Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy not only is ineffectiveness but does more damage. It feeds into their illness. Good call. Now, the question is..are there any Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) experts in your area. Whether or not she gets better it can support YOU and the rest of your family.

    I agree keep a journal about all of your parenting experiences. Those dated records can help with your credibility if she ever does accuse you and cps gets involved.

    Does she do anything else like she aggressive or wreckless? It's very hard, and yes.....super sad for all.
  8. Thanks Calamity Jane and Wiped Out.

    I have not kept records. I know I should. I figured I had enough support from friends, neighbors, and teachers that we'd be okay. Writing it down felt like keeping score and I hoped she'd grow out of it. Neighborhood kids come over to swim so they know difficult child has not been beaten when she runs around in a bikini from April to October. The garage freezer is full of ice pops all the kids are free to take, so I think some will attest to the fact we do not starve her. She sees her pedi for a medication check every three months, so we have proof of consistant medical care.

    Middle school provided a new teacher and audience every 50 minutes and my little kid telling little lies became a big kid with big lies. Most of her stories are plays for sympathy. I believe she wants hugs and encouragement not the resulting fall out. In sixth grade she cried in the lunchroom for a week, telling a teacher and lots of little girls her dad died in an auto accident. The teacher finally called to suggest I get Gfg13 into grief counselling- I was like remember those conferences where I warned about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? I'm so sorry but you got played. We pulled her records of nurse visits once out of curiousity and she visited the school nurse 30 times in 45 days or something insane. Fifth grade, was when I would not get out of bed to drive her to school. First period teacher called me and accused ME of lying when I explained difficult child was there on time everyday. I suggested she pull her sisters attendance records, who was in the same school and call me back. We still have no idea where Gfg13 was hiding for 30 minutes every morning but she magically got her rear to class after being busted.

    It could be worse. She is fairly innocent with no serious interest in sex or drugs yet. I figure if I shelter her, I can get her through high school without pregnancy or addictions. But that involves isolating her through homeschool. Considering that makes me feel a little insane... like I'm Mother Gothel locking up Rapunsel.

    She is doing well in home school. She is learning so much more than she was in public school. It's hard to waste learning time looking for sympathy when your teacher lives with you and won't buy in to drama. I'm freaking out because once I start on the homeschool path for high school, we are stuck with it for four years. My Gfg13 could not go back to traditional school on grade level unless we stick with the state certified cyberschool which I plan to drop. Plus she's going to miss out on the fun extras of high school... I have to sit here reminding myself it would not matter- she would never qualify when she'd have to pass classes/behave to play sports or participate in clubs. She has not matured enough to walk that line.

    I don't know. I'm processing and feeling nuts. I'll get over the pity party soon.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  9. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I adopted two special needs kids and had two bios one of whom had rage problems due to being a still birth that was resusitated. So I too had three with problems.

    At this point I can say that three out of four are doing very well but the one that had the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis is not. When he ws growing up Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was a new concept (he is 25 now) so little was available to us. I had him in therapy and on medication but it was a challenge to keep him safe and to battle his sneakyness and lies. I can say that he has brought me to my knees at times with his horrible lies about me but eventually people just stopped believing him.

    I was told by the Psycoloist who diagnosis my difficult child that you cannot raise a kid like him alone. You need a huge support system. So get your self hooked in as much as possible. I do not believe isolating is the way to go because when they turn 18 they go wild and you have little control. You need to teach her how to fit in and cope in real-life situations. I would check for classes and support groups for parents of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) children in your area. I know they are offered by many different organizations including county adoption agencies and at one point even the co-operative extention had a program. Privatized Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) treatment is available but you do need someone who has an expertise in that area. I was told they can be helped but not cured. -RM
  10. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    here are some suggestions to start.

    RadKid.Org : Provides information and resources for caregivers of children with reactive attachment disorder in particular, but also includes descriptions of other childhood emotional, behavioral, or developmental disorders.

    : Association for the Treatment and Training in Attachment of Children - International coalition of professionals and lay persons who are involved with children who have attachment disorders. Includes a list of member therapists and treatment centers. : A not-for-profit service organization offering information and resources on reactive attachment disorder directed at parents and teachers. Includes a schedule of seminars. The author of at least two books on the subject, Nancy L. Thomas is a Therapeutic Parenting Specialist.

    Older Child Adoption : Attachment & Bonding Issues - Provides information on attachment issues, including parenting, and teaching children with reactive attachment disorder.
  11. You guys are amazing. I can not keep up.

    No formal Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy, difficult child was given a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis by psychiatrist. We saw a play therapist until I realised it was feeding her disorder. Other kids do see psychiatrist. They cope pretty well, mostly just roll eyes and move on. It's all they can do. Occasionally older sister will freak out on difficult child for causing drama that affects her personally. Homeschooling difficult child has helped to seperate older sister from the social effects of difficult child's compulsive lying.

    Birth mother hid pregnancy. difficult child was failure to thrive at adoption. 17lb. at 2.5 yrs old. We did Occupational Therapist (OT) for sensory issues after adoption. difficult child is not violent, no rages or purposeful physical attacks. Mostly lies for attention, sympathy or drama. Does have a hard time controlling impulses. Lots of injuries happen when she difficult child gets excited- slams doors on others fingers, lands on them if jumping on trampoline. She will cause drama when bored for excitement - picks fight with friends/siblings on weekends. ADHD medications help to calm these behaviors.

    I'm in North Texas if anyone has treatment recs.
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    If she had behavior issues in school, whether or not her grades are ok, she should qualify for ebd special education. Even if it means a separate emotional/behavioral school. Have you ever requested an evaluation?
  13. She would qualify, I'm sure. I don't want to go there when I have other options. I assume she'd be with kids with real problems whose situations are not fictional. I don't see that helping her.

    And stop assulting your son with sugar! Are you trying to give the boy cavities?
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  14. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    She does have real problems. Not the problems that she is telling everyone she has, but Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    Depending on where you live, the schools options may be better than you think. Our district has a emotional support program for kids who need extra social work to help manage them (whether due to Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), or autism's social skill issues or depression or whatever) and a seperate program for kids who are basically behavior disordered without any skill deficit (more traditional "rough crowd" kids).

    Homeschooling is a legitimate option but then job? CILA? How will you prepare her for that?
  15. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I agree, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a huge barrier to being successful in many areas. It is a more serious diagnosis.than many other mental health diagnoses. Problem solving,.social skills, communication, organization, on.and on ......are impacted. She has permanent brain damage (I've read that brain structures in areas are similar to autism for many, their brains are under developed in some areas and they can be chemically altered. I found the research interesting but so sad.

    Life skills that are even more important than a geography grade really need to be developed if they are going to stand a chance.

    Special Education is individualized and by law starts in the least restrictive environment meaning as much in typical classes as possible. There may be support of an aide who walks around and helps several kids, or an hour of a resource room to work on identified goals (which you help write)....or even her transitioning five minutes before the bell and having teachers sign her in/out. Aides can walk with kids between classes and to bathrooms. EBD programs often have structured point or reward systems to help kids learn and use skills. Kids who need an escape from class pressure can have a safe room to go to with a pass.....there are limitless accommodations really.

    Her problems are no less legitimate nor even irritating, lol, than most kids with ebd issues. Sometimes an environment where no one is trusted without earning that privelege is pretty amazing for a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child. It also documents her issues and provides you with legal protections.

    Many programs have social skills and vocational skills classes. If needed she could also continue after high-school in transition programing which can offer job coaches and other skills. Not all kids in ebd classes have outward behaviors. ..It is a diverse group.

    If homeschooling is not working out it is a back up plan anyway.

    She didn't choose to have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It is a diagnosis that kills me because most often it was preventable before we knew them.

    So hard sometimes to make loving choices when we are filled with such stress over.their issues (I just spent another ten minutes being called every name in the book because his clothes are dirty. I only asked that he bring the baskets to the laundry, it's been a rough week, sigh).
  16. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    If her only issue at school in being in her classroom, they can assign a 1:1 aide to meet her at the bus and escort her from class to class. They don't have to enter the room if she does fine once she is there. She could be "dismissed" a few minutes before or after the other kids so she isn't in the crowded hallways too.
  17. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Maybe you could follow a Person-Centered-Planning format and get a really solid team of school, community, therapy, family and friends together (your daughter included) to map out services and a plan to get here from now and into adulthood. If this comprehensive team is all on the same page (and your daughter realizes this) maybe you will be able to focus on dreams for her without worrying about the lies because the whole team will be aware of her deficits/needs/strengths/abilities.
  18. This has been really helpful. Thanks for the responses. I'm reading and researching.