Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Little S came to us with a RAD diagnosis. Ahren, although not officially diagnosed, also seems to have many RAD symptoms, so I just assume he does and treat him accordingly. What I want to tell people, though, is that they seem to have a much lessened version of RAD than many parents face. The other families I know who have RAD kids truly have to deal with much, much more than we do. I want people to know that RAD is not always the 'worst-case-scenario' that many parents face. We are lucky. We seem to be experiencing RAD-Lite. I bow to those who are dealing with the truly rough stuff and I do not begin to compare myself to them. Instead I want to let you in on how our situation is going and what life is like around here.

First of all, if you put two 4-year old Rad-ish children in close proximity together, what you get is one big, long argument over nothing. I like fish, no you don't, yes I do, no you don't. That's my mountain, no it's not, yes it is, no it's not. You're a girl, no I'm not, yes you are, no I'm not. And on, and on, and on, and on.....24/7. They never stop. Punishment doesn't work. Diversion doesn't work. Incentives do not work. It is driven, like breathing. They cannot stop. It is enough to drive a person insane (insert screeching nails on a chalkboard).

There seems to be a competition between the two RAD-lings as to who gets the food. If one wants something the other immediately begins to beg for it or will stuff mass quantities of said food into their mouth, holding the rest in their hands. This is all calculated to prevent the other one from having any. This is at it's worst if I place the serving dish of food on the table family style. Picture a small child with 8 bites of sausage in their mouth and clutching 2-3 more sausages in their greasy hands. Ahren is way worse at this. Just as a note, he has never gone hungry. He had a wonderful foster family and he was fat, fat, fat. Very well fed. This is not a behavior from having suffered from hunger in the past. It is simply a controlling behavior. He wants it simply so someone else does not get it.

Ahren has rages, Little S whines. I haven't figured out which is worse yet. The rages used to be 3-4 times a day, and involved, hitting, kicking, spitting, biting, scratching, and lots of screaming. Now we might see 1-2 per week and they last minutes instead of hours. But the whining...oh lord the whining. Non-stop, every word out of his mouth, whining. It has gotten a lot better since we instituted the 'I cannot understand you, I don't speak whining'. If he whines, we do not answer him. Period. I will look at him and say 'What'? That is all. He was very frustrated at first but he is catching on now. He can actually re-phrase what he was saying in a normal voice most of the time. Whew! There isn't enough wine in the world to handle the whine.

Ahren pretends he cannot do anything for himself. He can't feed himself, he can't climb up on the potty, he can't pull his pants on, he can't reach his cup on the counter. Both here and at school we have instituted a 'you have to try first before anyone helps you' rule. It's working great. That and a little peer pressure! Little S on the other hand, will be totally capable of doing things and then suddenly 'forget' how to do them. One day he forgot how to drink from a cup. Amazing! I praised him for being able to drink yesterday and drinking all his milk and then told him I could SEE him growing bigger and Voila! Suddenly he knew how to drink from a cup again.

Little S is also extremely demanding of my attention any time I am busy with something else. He can be playing quite happily and I will start cooking and suddenly he needs me right now! His eye hurts, his feet hurt, he wants me to hold him, he needs a drink, he needs medicine, he needs, needs needs. I calmly talk to him, tell him what I am doing and explain that as soon as I accomplish 'X' I will tend to him. I keep talking so he knows he has my attention, but it isn't always enough. He is testing me. Making sure I am there for him. He only does this to me. Not his Dad and not Nanny. That's OK, he just needs me more. I can deal with that. (Someday he will be out on his own and not need me at all and I will look back on these days and be sad!)

There is a lot more. Silly, crazy, stupid little stuff. In and of itself, each thing is nothing, but the big picture tells it all. Still, we are so lucky. I guess what I am saying to all of you is don't be afraid of RAD. Don't be afraid to adopt an older child. Don't be afraid to love a child with some issues. The demands are great but the rewards are much greater. Each hug, each special moment, each hard-won improvement is so worth it. These are not throw-aways. These are children, little angels made by God. They just come with a few more flaws.

Man I love these boys!!!!!!


Diana said...

Amen, sister! It's a spectrum. People look at me all the time and think I'm one of the worst case scenarios. Thankfully, I'm not. In fact, I think that most RADical kids aren't. Some are, yes. But I really do believe that those horror story, completely without conscience, will never heal no matter what case ARE rare.

Given the right treatment and the right therapeutic parenting techniques, RAD doesn't have to be a life sentence. Kids can and do heal. Sometimes you have to throw everything including the kitchen sink at it, and sometimes it is exhausting, but it is also TOTALLY and AMAZINGLY worth it to watch these kids come into their own and start to heal and attach.

Recovering Noah said...

Oh wow! I hear ya! Nandi & Eli sound so much like Ahren & Little S. The arguing! The whining! The whining! And did I mention the whining?

They are each doing a tiny bit better, but, boy when they have a "day" they go out in full-force. I have still have the pinch marks from yesterday to prove it.

BTW, I love your new blog look!