By Trace Embry
If you’ve ever adopted an adolescent, and the child has been diagnosed with a condition known as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD), today’s post is for you.
I believe, based on my experience with RAD, I can offer a step that will help your child with Reactive Attachment Disorder.
An Overview of the Problem: Lack of Security
Before I start, I have written more extensively on the subject of Reactive Attachment Disorder. I recommend you research it further for an in-depth understanding.
Giving in, or wearing out, can never be an option for the parent of a child diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder; because what these kids are plagued with is an ultra-extreme lack of security from never emotionally attaching to their biological parent—or anyone for that matter. This is a deeply spiritual issue.
Harvard, Yale, UCLA, and about 30 other top schools in America have now confirmed through science that there is a biological need for children to attach emotionally with their birth parents.
Empirical evidence is just a physical gauge for what has a spiritual root.
Most people can’t come to grips with the fact that an otherwise normal kid could possibly be so determined to find or make his own security. These kids trust nobody—not even those who love them most and know them best. They constantly try to sabotage loving relationships to test how far they can go before they are abandoned by their care-givers or adoptive parents in order to confirm or refute their need to find their own security. It’s all about security.
While the empirical evidence is there; I believe two additional reasons for an increase in RAD are the break-up of the family, and the neglect of time-tested approaches to life and parenting by the Book, i.e., God’s Word.
A Practical Solution: Establish Boundaries Early
The key is setting secure and loving boundaries that are consistently enforced from day-one, the earlier the better. If Shepherds Hill Academy (SHA) sees incredible change in only a year after a childhood-long failed attempt from doctors, medications, loving and well-meaning parents, and other therapeutic approaches, then certainly hope exists.
However, if we take our queues from Oprah and today’s cultural moral code and worldview, we are creating a recipe for disaster for a child like this. When not dealt with early, it is as if these kids are programmed to fail. By the time they come to Shepherds Hill Academy, not only do the kids need to be healed; but, the parents do too.
What most people don’t seem to realize is that these kids need to be exhausted by a relentless combination of love, patience, and consistently-enforced boundaries. It’s been said that doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is a sign of insanity. That may be true when it comes to the physical world; but, it isn’t true when it comes to spiritual things. If it were true, prayer would be a moot point!
What are some other steps you can take in helping your child with Reactive Attachment Disorder?