By the time you reach a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder in your child, you probably have already been researching how to manage a lot of other diagnosis. You’ve been trained in strategies that may work for Autism or ADHD or any of the other things doctors originally thought could be your child’s problem. Once Reactive Attachment Disorder becomes your focus, it’s time to leave those strategies behind. Buy a new note book, clean the slate and start over. You are now going to have to start again. However, you don’t want to overREACT to your new situation….you simply want to RESPOND to this new information.
How you should RESPOND when you begin your journey into the world of Reactive Attachment Disorder.
R – Realize that what you have done so far isn’t necessarily wrong, but it will probably not accomplish the desired behaviors. Throw out the charts and systems and re-think a new plan.
E – Expect to be uncomfortable with the suggestions of your trusted BSC or therapist who understands RAD. These new ways are unique and different and though you want to scream, make consequences and demand respect, you may need to step back, give up some control for a bit, and approach the struggle in a much different way.
S- Seek out new friends. Find others in the battle and talk to them….often! Your friends and family often do not understand the truth of your home, but there are lots of us that do. You have probably already lost some friend because of your child’s behavior, so you are in the market for some new ones anyhow!
P – Put time for you in your calendar. Your child and his needs will take up a lot of time. Visits to the therapist, psychiatrist, school & doctor take you away from home a lot and TSS hours may fill up your family time at home. Put yourself on your calendar. Plan something relaxing or reenergizing to do outside the home…since stress is often inside the home.
O – Overcome the guilt of not understanding sooner. RAD is very complex and strange. We often attempt to manage it in parenting styles that just won’t work. It’s not your fault that this kid doesn’t respond to the methods other kids do. We all do the best we can with what we have where we are…most of the time. Cut yourself some slack and overcome the guilt.
N – Never allow your child to come between you and your marriage. The way you deal with this diagnosis will pit parent against parent on its own. Don’t allow your child to play one against the other. Having a child with special needs is very difficult and it will require one parent to be on top of their game at all times. Don’t let the child win by getting you both riled up at the same time and fighting against each other AND the child. Recognize that your RAD kid would enjoy the control of causing you grief in your relationship and strive to never allow this to happen. (NOTE: I said strive…this is a tough one!)
D – Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel successful when you go to bed at night. I have read many books and techniques and I have tried many of them. Some are just not a good fit for me. If I go to bed hating the person I was all day trying to implement a “system” I learned in a book, it will simply not work for me. Sometimes I feel better when I give in, sometimes I feel better when I fight the battle to the end. Ultimately, though, the only behavior you can guarantee to change is your own. Do what you need to do to make yourself feel successful.
In all honesty, REACTing is much simpler than RESPONDing, but I think if we can be aware, take a moment to breathe and think, we can ALL respond in a much better way.