Monday, September 8, 2008

Battle Fatigue

After several email conversations, Annie suggested this book about disorganized and disoriented attachment disorders. Hungry for information, but finding very little, I dove head first into the book. It's the first (I hope of many) books I've opened on the subject, and my working information previous to it was limited to a few articles sent to me by a friend who is a psychologist, websites, and a few blogs by moms of kids with RAD. The book did not disappoint, at least not the first half of it.

The first half was perfect for me on MANY levels. You see, we do not have a diagnosis of RAD. Or any diagnosis for that matter. Actually, she did receive a diagnosis before she was placed with us, at the tender age of 2, with adjustment disorder with anxious mood. But the mental health services she's received once placed with us only entail one visit with one counselor that lasted about 20 minutes. I wrote about that here. I may be jumping extremely quickly to extremely ridiculous assumptions, but based on our first meeting I have little confidence in her competence to help my daughter with healing or adequately diagnose/teach us to deal with this disorder. If you are able to understand my ramblings, and are still interested, my point is that there has been basically NO understanding, no pointing in any direction, no support, and no affirmation. The book most certainly answered any lingering doubts about the disorder. No, I'm not a psychiatrist, but much of the book might as well be titled with my little girl's name. It was as if they studied her and then wrote the symptoms. I can not begin to tell you how much relief that alone has brought. Self doubt has certainly been a way of life for much longer than I care to admit. But there it was, in text, things I thought I might just have made up.

It completely disassembled the behaviors, the reasons behind them, and therefore furthered my understanding of the disorder (and thus my understanding of my little girl). I almost feel as if I know her better just because I have gained a little more insight into her behaviors. Because she has such a flat affect on big things, while blowing very small things entirely out of proportion, it's been hard to connect with her. Love her, yes, but know her? Not yet. She's quite skilled at keeping us at arms length. She may need us, and therefore she'll string us along, but only for her own agenda. Not really letting us in on her life just yet. I still believe it will come, though.

Not only did it solidify my growing belief that she has this disorder, but it even pegged my own feelings as if they'd prodded my very soul and wrote what they saw. More relief. My reaction may not always be right, but it's not abnormal. It's understandable, and apparently predictable. I know I've written the word relief way too many times already in this post, but I just can't think of a better way to describe the weight that lifts when you can see plainly that others have traveled this path, felt the same way, acted the same way, and that my family is not alone.

Where I felt the book came up short, though, was the area of what I can actually apply. First of all, it is directed to therapists who will be implementing corrective attachment therapy. It's process includes 2 weeks of 3 hours of therapy per day. Therapists. Not parents. And strongly urges unqualified individuals from employing the process. It did include case examples and very specific dialogue, but no child under 7 was used. My little RADling is only 4. And while it clearly states this order takes root in VERY young infants/toddlers who might not even remember their abuse/neglect/trauma, the dialogue in every case study it uses as an example is with children who do remember. Again, doesn't apply to us.

So, it's now my life mission to find out everything I possibly can about this disorder, and becoming an expert on every therapeutic method out there. I'm not interested in any re-birthing or other insane method, though I can certainly see how a mom would be willing to try it. Right now, while I find more information to read, I'm just concentrating on lots of eye contact, appropriate touch and holding. I've heard some moms make mention of things like letting kids put stickers on their face (promoting touch and eye contact) and popping sweet candy into their mouths while looking into their eyes (connecting pleasant with eye contact and touch), so I'm wondering where they got that type of applicable information? I'm asking, since, you know, you guys are experts in this disorder, right? Actually, Annie does read, and she's fighting this battle, too. And sounds as though Dean might be an excellent source as well.

And if you aren't sleeping by now or if I haven't put you into a boredom coma, you can pray that the battle fatigue that has consumed my husband and I lately (and includes many other aspects of our lives other than helping our little girl heal) will fade. We know Whose we are, and we have not mistakenly put our trust in Him. But walking the walk minute after minute becomes exhausting and frustrating at times. We just need a little boost and will take it in the form of your prayers, please. We reciprocate, by the way. And do not hesitate to fall to our knees on your behalf. In fact, I can think of several of you that we are currently interceding for. You, and You, and You(and family), and You......

9 comments:

hsmomma5 said...

I admire your dedication to finding as much information as possible. I became so exhausted with it that I eventually gave up on the RAD mission. After being told by one psychiatrist (and using that term loosely) that there WAS no such thing--it was something that DHS workers "made up" and then by others in the field that there was no type of treatment available for it in the state I just couldn't take it anymore and decided our family would have to deal with it. Sad really, but true. I hope you are able to eventually get the help you need. I am not at all trying to be discouraging--I TRULY DO admire your persistance with this....

Annie said...

What hssmomma said is exactly the reason the gov't shouldn't be in charge of our health care!!!!

I had the same problem with the book, I kept asking "what do I do" but just knowing that I wasn't the only one made up for the nothing to do about it part. I've seen the treatment videos from their intensive treatments, they are amazing, but not a viable option for everyone financially.

My peace of mind comes from the stats I got, who knows where, that kids who've lived somewhere 50% of their life have a 50% higher chance than a 'normal' child of sexual or criminal behavior as a teen, and once the child hits 75% of their life in one home the difference is almost negligible. We are three weeks away from 75% - still have some major issues, but oh so much bettter. I hate that I don't even recognize him from his pictures when he was first place with us, there was so much chaos that I don't remember him.

What has worked for us. Routine. Practicing what is normal. and bracing yourself for the first time they experience something new. And respite, provided in your home if at all possible. It's hard work, but well worth it.

And don't try to fix it all at once. One problem at a time and just forget about the others that aren't safety issues. If CPS will pay for daycare, get her into something, that way you can get a break from the battle and not feel like you're spending all your time and energy on her.

Good luck you're in my prayers.

dean said...

brandy... kind words, and thank you! but i'm nowhere close to an expert. like you, i just experienced it thru living with a RAD child (one diagnosed, but a number of others suspected). and of course i had the benefit of support staff there on campus to help us work through stuff, when stuff could actually BE worked through :-) a couple of suggestions though...

randy luper would be an EXCELLENT resource for you concerning books and other resources including workshops. also...

rhonda lettington is a leading expert, and when i was at ABHC we had her in on 2 separate occasions to do continuing education workshops in little rock for the Christian Children's Homes Association (or whatever it's actually called). she not only works with families of RAD children, but she and her husband have adopted 2 RAD kids and are in the process of adopting a third. she's just published her book, and she also offers her 6 hour seminar on CD. i'd be more than happy to get this stuff in your hands if you're interested. here's her website:
http://www.lettschatreactiveattachment.com/
email me if you want to pursue further. deancirelli@yahoo.com in the meantime, i'm praying for you guys.

Jeff said...

Thanks for the prayers!

Mandy said...

I have no information and I am definitely not on a level to give advice to you.. but I am praying!! If you ever need a break, I definitely don't mind taking a child or two or three for a day. (RAD child included!!) Call me if you need me! Don't you dare hesitate or think you'd be bugging me. You should know better :)

Green Acres said...

Hugs and prayers for you and your family. Praying you find the answers to help your child.

deepfriedpicklesandicecream said...

I am not completely sure I am being helpful here but I do know that sometimes it helps to talk to others that have experience in this arena as well.I do know of this online support group and there are probably others within the same site.I will definitely be praying for you,after reading some symptoms I believe I myself know someone that might possibly have RAD....

Christine said...

I did a google search on "theraplay activities" and just started digging. I write down all of the little free ideas I can scrounge, and then also try to think of anything else we can do that will fit the bill.

Heck, this week that meant playing Battle Ship with my 12-yr-old while giving him Rolo's.

We've just bailed on therapist #1. "Are you familiar with attachment disorder?" "YES!" "Can you take that approach instead of traditional talk therapy, before you start to utilize EMDR?" "Certainly!" "Are you familiar with Nancy Thomas?" "Oh, YES!"

What did we get? Talk therapy. Nice lady, but she had no intentions of actually helping my son attach to me ... until he trusted HER first. *giggle*

Thus, my dear, you know nothing about attachment disorder.

I didn't say it, but I thought it! :)

Okay, back to the subject! Let your child put makeup on you. Do the old "Pass the orange game" neck to neck. Get on YouTube and watch videos of how to give hand massages and take turns giving them to one another (if they can handle that type of stimulation). Try to memorize stories so you can make eye contact the whole time you are telling them. Hand jives are always fun (except for the uncoordinated).

I just thought of one today that I want to try. Remember on "The Electric Company" when the two shadow heads would each say a portion of a word and then put it together? "par" "tee" "PARTY!" I think I'll do that with my kids. Might be funny!

Annie said...

2nd only to talk therapy? Play therapy. "We don't set limits in play therapy." I would love to correct them by saying "Play therapy is not for setting limits."

I hate most therapy for kids. We do parent training therapy with a Christian counselor, who teaches us how to deal with the kids. That way the triangulation thing is cut way down. We're lucky that we have a place in town that is excellent at family therapy.