I used to be on time to everything. It was a point of pride for me. Then I had kids. Not just kids, but hard kids with some big challenges. Franky, I believe a series of miracles have to occur for parents of special needs kids to make it to their destination. (Maybe with the help of a legion of unseen guardian angels.) Four kids later, it’s not that I’ve given up on being on time. I still try, like REALLY REALLY try, but it rarely seems to work out. If you’re a special needs parent, what exactly does happen in the process of attempting to get your foot out the door? Does it look a little something like this . . .
When my first son was born, I believed the infant stage was the hardest. Then came the terrible twos. Then we adopted three all at once. Oh my gosh! Now I have four teenagers with a handful of diagnoses we’re trying to transition to adulthood. One son has “left the nest” and is out in the world serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m still in the thick of raising the next three, two of whom have IEPs and trying to figure out how to help these sons prepare for adulthood.
There are many challenges and behaviors which are associated with Reactive Attachment Disorder such as: lack of affection, lack of conscience, disobedience, manipulation, temper tantrums, physical violence, destruction of property, argumentative, and so many more. Each child is unique in what his or her cycle may look like. What creates negative cycles of behavior and how can we as parents and caregivers help our children to break out of them?
Letting go of mom guilt when you have a child with ADHD or RAD isn’t easy. When I was a younger mom I carried a lot of mom guilt with me. I told myself if I just tried harder, if I’d recognized “x” sooner, if I just said the right things, read more books about my kids’ challenges, tried one more program, was more patient, was more involved at their schools, was less this, was more that, then maybe my child would be happier, be less angry, have more friends, would get along better with their siblings, would treat me better, and so on. The guilt weighed me down for so long, crushing me and pushing me to work harder, do more and be more, more, more.
Standards-Based Grading has been phasing into the school systems in Utah, and other areas of the country, much to my dismay. And while I’ve been complaining about it to my husband for the last few years, it’s only been this school year that he’s sat up and taken notice. There are three reasons why I believe Standards-Based Grading is failing our children, both figuratively and literally.
Our home is supposed to be a haven, but as a mom of three kids with RAD (reactive attachment disorder), one son in particular fights with me over everything, even the smallest of things, often making home feel more like a battleground. When raising this kind of a RAD child you know how emotionally exhausting it is. You go to bed tired and you wake up tired. Living like this day in and day out sometimes makes me ask myself: is it really worth it to stand my ground? Wouldn’t it be easier to just give in? Retreat? Let him do what he wants?
My writing goal for today was to edit two chapters of my middle grade novel. I hadn’t even made it half way through the first of the two chapters when at 3 pm I looked at the clock and found myself saying, I got nothing done today. Living with kids with ADHD poses many . . . I was going to say problems . . . but that’s not the right word. It poses many challenges and opportunities which can be very time consuming causing parents to feel like they got nothing done.
Parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder comes with numerous challenges. Each RAD child is different. I should know—I have three and they are each unique in how their RAD behaviors manifest themselves. How each person nurtures themselves is going to look different, but might I suggest three areas where you can nurture yourself when you have a child with reactive attachment disorder . . .
A couple of years ago I placed a countdown APP on my phone with all four of my boys’ names and how many days they would be remaining in our home. It was during a particularly rough patch with my kids, two kids in particular, and I needed that countdown to put things in perspective—to know that there would be an end my having to deal with all of the difficult behaviors, a light at the end of the tunnel as it were.
One common phrase that used to be repeated in our house everyday multiple times a day was PERSONAL SPACE. Why is it so hard for children with ADHD to respect personal space, and how do you teach them to give others space?