reattachment disorder?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by luvmyottb, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. luvmyottb

    luvmyottb Guest

    Does anyone have a difficult child with reattachment disorder? If so, what are your difficult child characteristics and how do you treat?

    I've done some reading on the web, but I am more interested in personal experiences.

  2. AprilH

    AprilH Guest

    Nice to meet you! Do you mean 'Reactive Attachment Disorder'? I am beginning to suspect that my son has this issue also; his psychiatric seems to agree with me. Please clarify so I know which direction to go in and so we can compare notes. I noticed you live in N.C. also...may I ask where?
  3. luvmyottb

    luvmyottb Guest

    Yes, I meant reactive attachment disorder. My daughter was adopted at one week old. I interviewed a new therapist tonight and he suggested she may fit the criteria. Most of the cases seem to come from foster, abuse, or neglect cases and my daughter had lots of love and support as a new baby from us and grandmas on both sides of our families. I am a stay at home mom and always spent lots of time with her then and now.

    We live just outside of Salisbury, NC. Is your son adopted?
  4. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I have two adopted kids (from birth). My oldest's counselor wanted to diagnosis him as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), (she had done her thesis work on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)), but he really fit the profile much more closely for mood disorder. With proper medications he has come a very long way and no one would consider a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis for him. I would ask a great number of questions before diagnosis'ing a kid who has been with adopted parents since birth and no major traumas etc with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)--in particular I would want to rule out Mood disorders etc. Just my 02 cents.
  5. AprilH

    AprilH Guest

    Hi there, thanks for elaborating a little more on your situation. My son is not adopted, however, there was a lot of turbulence in the early years of his life. My ex husband and I married when I was 20 and he was 21, we were both in the Army, and our marriage started unraveling while I was pregnant with thank you. We separated and I moved to Texas with my son when he was barely one year old. We were granted a divorce the same month that my thank you-Beau turned two, and for the following two years after that, my son was shuttled between my ex (who lived in Kentucky by that time) and Texas where I lived every three months because my ex did not want to give me sole custody; even though he did not help me raise our son (he literally would ignore our son and refused to help me take care of his basic needs) before we separated, he would not give me sole custody so he could make my life miserable by forcing me to give up my son to him every three months. And lord only knows what went on when he was with his birth father!

    I am currently in the process of getting the Child Support Enforcement agency to get about six years in back child support from him, then I am going to use some of that money to file for sole custody...karma is a wonderful thing, sometimes!:D During the times that I had him with me, his behaviors started to show to the point that every few months I would have to find another day care provider because they could not handle him. Add to that the fact that the Army is somewhat accommodating for single Moms, but not nearly enough. I also met my husband that I have now while my son was very young, and we started dating after my divorce was granted, and married not long after that. Unfortunately, my husband had to move to Korea for a year on an 'Unaccompanied short tour' and during that time, I was still dealing with my ex husband and became pregnant with our daughter while my hubby #2 was home visiting on leave.

    The problems that my son is having are: extreme sensitivity to his feelings and no one else's, extreme aggression to other people and animals, inability to look people in the eye, feels more in tune with kids who are younger than him, he wants to play with younger kids because they tend to follow older kids more and not ask questions why, extreme anxiety at home and at school, constant questioning even when the answers he is looking for are right in front of him, he is a loner, he hoards odds and ends, like pencil leads, broken rubber bands, paper clips, erasers, does not give affection easily, and does not seem to want any affection given to him, seems indifferent to other people's feelings, wants what HE wants NOW!, his favorite saying is "not fair!", does not seem to make a connection between cause and effect of his actions, getting an apology out of him is like pulling teeth. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have done sooooo many things different.

    My son is quite possibly a 'Radish' and I take full responsibility for my part in it. I guess the one bright spot in this is my son's step dad and my best friend and soul mate. My son thinks Tony is the Bee's Knees and so do I. He is my son's true hero and real life GI Joe doll, HAHA! As soon as my hubby gets back from training, we are petitioning the courts to have my son's last name changed to ours and adopted by his REAL Daddy. I hope and pray that will make a difference in my son's feelings of not belonging. Maybe it will make him feel more of a part of this family. Whew, that was a long story, I know! Does any of those behaviors that I listed sound familiar to you? Well, let me know what is going on in your end...I've been through Salisbury, it's a small but pretty town. I hope that some day we can leave the transient military town that we live in! Good night for now, I'll check in the morning for you in this forum!
  6. navineja

    navineja New Member

    My twins had attachment issues, not severe enough to truly be classified as attachment disorder, but enough to create difficulties. I found a lot of help with the book "When Love Is Not Enough" by Nancy Thomas and on the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) websites and Delphi forums Reactive Attachment Disorder website (which is listed in the RadKid site).
    Characteristics generally include manipulative behaviors, lying, lack of conscience, lack of accepting responsibility, failure to trust anyone, defiance- there are so many! The RadKid site is very good at explaining the disorder and answering questions. It also comes in handy in helping your family and friends understand what you are dealing with, as so often these children seem perfectly normal to everyone else and others rarely believe that they act the way that they do with the parents (or just the mom). Many feel that the child must just be reacting to something that the parent is doing and if you would "just handle them differently, then everything would go smoothly". (I even had this from my husband until he truly witnessed a "meltdown!)
    Hope this helps. And just as a light at the end of the tunnel, my babies (almost 7 yrs old now) are doing much better and have overcome most of the issues.
  7. navineja

    navineja New Member

    One other thing- I have to agree with Pepperidge. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is very unusual in a child adopted at such an early age if the family life is stable and supportive, as the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) issues have to deal with trust that is developed between the ages of 1 and 3.
  8. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Attachment disorder is not only very possible with children adopted at birth, it is not unusual. It does not just happen to children adopted from foster care or who suffered abuse or neglect. That was the thinking in the past and many people still believe that but most professional, clinical therapists in the area, now agree with what we as adoptive families have known for a long time.

    We adopted our difficult child at birth. We were at a class last week given by a professional clinical counselor who evaluates kids for several juvenile courts in our area. He wrote a book on how to change your child's behavior. There were five people at this class even though many more were expected. Of the five, two of us had adopted children. We are both having serious problems with our difficult child's who are currently in the judicial system. We both adopted our children at birth. Interesting that of the people at this class, 40% of us adopted our children at birth. This was not a class for adoptive families. It was a class for families invited by our police department, whose children were in legal trouble from our community. What were the chances that two of the five of us adopted our children? This counselor told us that in his practice at any given time there are from 35-50% adopted kids, and many have been adopted at birth. Since only 2% of the families have adopted children, this number is significant. And he says it is the same for most of his fellow therapists. The juvenile detention facilities are made up of a very high percentage of adopted kids.

    The most significant factor in a child's behavior is genetics. The bonding process starts before birth and when that is interrupted, however soon, the infant feels the sense of loss.

    I don't know if your difficult child has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). That is a serious diagnosis and not to be given lightly. But I would not be surprised either to learn that she has attachment problems.

    I would like to know a little more about what kind of behaviors she is exhibiting, but my suggestion is to find a therapist who is very experienced in adoption issues. Oh and one other thing, this counselor also told us that ADHD is almost always diagnosed in these kids when it is really ODD due to adoption issues and genetics.

  9. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Sorry to hijack this thread, but April, after reading the desciption of your son's behavior, I'm wondering if he's been evaluated for Autistic Spectrum Disorder? He has a lot of the symptoms.
  10. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    With all that we are learning about the heritability of mood disorders, potential for addiction etc. it doesn't surprise me at all that adoptees are over-represented in the population at risk. Very often the birth families had difficulties that stem from undiagnosed or untreated mental illness. True in our case, and i suspect many others. That's one reason why I would be careful to rule out some form of mood disorder or other psychiatric condition first before turning to Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in the case of a stable early childhood.
  11. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    My daughter has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). To put it mildly, it is ugly. She is manipulative, unable to take responsibility, accepts anyone into her life no matter how inappropriate at least for a time, uses people for her own gains. When she was younger, lying, stealing, violence were everyday occurrences.

    As Nancy said, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can and does occur with children adopted at birth. Sometimes even when the child is the biological child (sometimes due to being a preemie, being very colicky, just problems where they couldn't be held as newborns and infants can be enough).

    Honestly, if I had a choice, I'd rather my daughter be diagnosed BiPolar (BP), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), almost anything but Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). There are no medications for it. Behavorial therapy can only do so much. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy is questionable and has some high risks.

    I was lucky and did some things right without even knowing they were the right thing for my little one. I carried her pretty much non-stop for her first two years with me. Not because she needed it but because I needed to feel her, to convince myself this little girl was really my daughter and was real. She wanted to play "baby" and I happily did (I did draw the line at changing diapers, though). She had a bottle, her special blankie, a binkie and pillows surrounding her to make her bed. I'd feed her, burp her, etc. It was a game to us but it turns out that it helped her gain some attachment to me. Even so, the years 3-9 were hard. The years 10-16 were sheer hell. 17-21 has been interesting so far. More ups than downs but the downs have been very sad and very ugly.

    Even with all I've said, I've been lucky and I know it. She's working, she has a shot at a future (not the one I wanted for her but an acceptable one at least). She does love me as best she can. She loves her pets. She shows some loyalty to her friends. This is far more than many Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids can ever accomplish. Her love will always be tinged with doubts and fear. No one will ever be able to love her enough and she will always perceive the slightest slight as a lack of love. She will manipulate people to get what she wants (and she wants everything). It will always be someone else's fault. These are Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) things. There is nothing she can do about it, they are a part of her.

    For your sake, I hope the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is wrong. If it's not, good luck. Even mild Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is hard going. It can be overcome, at least to some extent but the battles will be long and hard.
  12. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    My twins are both diagnosis'd with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), along with complex PTSD & hx of bipolar.

    What that all means is it's very ugly. We couldn't even address the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) until the BiPolar (BP) & the anxiety associated with the PTSD were addressed. It's just now that kt & wm are beginning to understand the "damage" done in their early childhood.

    wm is diagnosis'd with disinhibited Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I can no longer tell you what that means - it will take a while to get this old brain warmed up. As wm is a danger to the family, he is currently placed in a therapeutic group home with a foster family running it. We are a family of different addresses. He is a challenge no matter where he is placed. He has a need to control each & every situation he is any way he can.

    kt's Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is inhibited. Again - can't tell you the difference. However, there is a difference behavior wise.

    Both of my children have very iffy prognosis's. They are 13 & need 24/7 supervision. I expect wm will need a supervised group home most of his life. kt is iffy at best right now.

    I'd love to recommend books & treatments for you. There are books with wonderful nurturing ideas & such, but I disagree with the treatment options - in fact, some of the treatments have been outlawed in many states.

    The bottom line is that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) should be diagnosis'd after everything else has been ruled out. And remember there is a spectrum - from attachment issues to full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    Good luck & keep us updated.
  13. AprilH

    AprilH Guest

    Hey there Smallworld!
    Yep, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is one of the many diagnosis's we have heard over the years; every psychiatric has a different opinion/idea of what the deal is, which is understandable...we just keep plugging away! We have been told that it may be Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Asperger's, ADD/ADHD/ ODD/Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified/Depressive Disorder-not otherwise specified. Recently, the psychiatric he has been seeing now for about a year has been tossing Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) around to explain what the deal is. One thing that all doctors we have seen have said is that it may be years. if ever that we really truly get an idea of what is going on and/or a correct diagnosis by the time he turns 18. I wish there was a button, switch or SOMETHING that we could plug into our children's heads to hear what is going on in there! I suspect that many of you in here have the same hurdle to cross when it comes to getting your babies to open up and tell you what they are feeling/thinking/hearing in some cases. I tell me son all the time that I cannot read his mind and that I need him to tell me what is going on so I can help him, but it has not clicked in him yet. Frustrating to say the least, but I don't let him know it...I just remind him that I am here and not going anywhere...:singing:
  14. luvmyottb

    luvmyottb Guest

    I went to the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) site and she fits the symptom list almost perfectly. But then, she fits ADHD, ODD, and some biopolar.

    She starts with a new therapist on the 20th. So I guess I will wait and see what he says after observing her.

    I feel very sad for her this morning. :sad-very: Tears are just streaming down my face as I type. I just want to be able to help her and it breaks my heart that life is this way for her. I just wish we could get a handle on what is going on with her. I also feed sad for myself and grieve for the daughter I don't have.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so very sorry. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and other attachment disorders are so very hard on a family.

    It truly is VERY important to make sure you are treating whatever psychiatric issues are there along with the attachment disorder (not 100% guarantee that they will be there, but there is a higher than typical probability of psychiatric problems). It is very very hard to diagnosis Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It was often suggested as what my son has. He was NOT adopted, but had very severe ear issues and a badly mishandled operation before 3 (mishandled by the medical people involved, NOT by us).

    I do think that sometimes when the professionals are not experienced with various forms of autism and autistic spectrum disorders that this is sometimes suggested or diagnosed. We heard a LOT of experts say my son has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but he doesn't. He is an Aspie. And hte does think differently, but he has a MUCH different set of needs, problems, etc than a person with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) has.

    Make sure that you agree with the diagnosis before you say it is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and nothing else. Even if it is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), please check for whatever else seems likely to you.

    I am so sorry. This is one of the scariest things to suggest a child has.


  16. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    There are no easy answers for our kids and, I think, it is even harder when we adopt because we just don't have the genetic background nor do we know what all was done to our baby in the womb. The best we can do is fight for our children tooth and nail, learn all we can, ask questions and don't take no for an answer.

    In some ways, I was lucky that mine didn't have the BiPolar (BP) to add to her mix. Her Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is on the "mild" side but still severe enough to require an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in her mid teens. She does have ADD but, again, it is mild and something she can cope with without medications.

    One thing I learned was that she would never the child of my dreams -- college, boy friend, marriage, grandchildren. She is, however, the child of my heart. Almost every parent has to let go of the dreams we had for our children -- some of us more than others. Sometimes we're lucky enough to be able to change our dreams into something our children can attain. Sadly, for some the dreams become nightmares with no real way out. Work on finding the dreams for your daughter that are real.

    She will struggle more than many children, but not as much as some. She will go down paths that you will hate -- almost all kids do, some to more extremes than others. If you're lucky, one day she will turn around and thank you for all of your hard work, for being there for her, for being her mom. Until that day, hang on for the ride of your life.

    Do shed your tears and grieve for the loss of dreams, for the stuggles your little one will endure. Do remember that with all of those struggles, she will have triumphs. Not the triumphs of some, but triumphs that will be celebrated and cherished even more because they were harder to reach.

  17. luvmyottb

    luvmyottb Guest

    Thanks guys for all your really thoughtful suggestions and input. I am really struggling today with the fear of what could be down the road for us if therapist really does see Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).
  18. skeemi

    skeemi New Member

    I don't mean to barge in, but I, too have a difficult child who was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) at the age of 3. We have been in therapy with an awesome therapist since last october but I am, like another mom I read about, interested in techniques that are helpful and effective with them so that we can bounce ideas off of each other.

    She is so up and down that we don't know what to expect of her at any moment. I would love to share with anyone who is interested in speaking.

  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm going to give you my opinion as a mom of four adopted kids. We actually adopted six, but two were too dangerous to stay in our family since we had younger kids. One of those two had full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (explanation in the next
    I believe from the deepest part of my core that adopted kids who have problems are over-diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. I can understand it with older kids--but I don't believe it with kids who always had love--I just don't buy "the primal wound theory." And you'll find plenty of professionals who don't either. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a controversial diganosis and adopted kids get saddled with it all the time, especially from lesser-educated therapists. Be careful.
    Adopted kids tend to have more mental illness, because more often their birthparents had mental illness. Also many have autistic spectrum disorder and the higher functioning type REALLY looks like Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), however it IS NOT.
    Sadly, in my opinion Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a scapegoat. We adopted an 11 year old who had reactive attachment. That made sense. He had been in five homes and had probably been abused...and he abused. But in your cause, I would want a second and third opinion (from a Psychiatrist with the MD) before I'd accept reactive attachment disorder as a diagnosis. It doesn't seem as if your child has any reason not to attach to you--she was loved from infancy on. Again, you will get various opinions here because of the controversey of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but, since she has other diagnosis., my guess is that THOSE are what is causing her behavior. All adopted kids have questions about their origins, but that does not equal Reactive Attachment Disorder. Good luck, regardless of what you decide to pursue. I hope, for your daughter's sake, you check this out with a Psychiatrist (the MD type) and a neuropsychologist before you buy into it.
  20. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I also believe with the deepest part of my core that attachment issues are prevalent among adopted children. I won't speculate on how many children have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but the symptoms are pretty apparent. There are many many more children adopted at birth who exhibit many of the attachment disorder signs to a lesser degree.