Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two Steps Forward

We have been in counseling with Linda for several months. We have a great family counselor who really helps us find ways to reach Linda, without judgement or condemnation. Linda had been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder when she was younger. That is a really scary prognosis as the behaviors that accompany it can be very extreme. She has also been diagnosed with ADHD. Our family counselor is so supportive. He feels you cannot properly diagnose a child with something like RAD until they are much older. That is such a relief.

One of the things about Linda is she is very affectionate..with people that are not a threat to her. What I mean by that is people that she doesn't see everyday so she is not afraid of getting attached to them and getting hurt if they leave. For those of us such as my husband and I, or teachers, ect, she is usually very stand offish, only usually showing affection if she wants something. A hug followed by a "Mommy, can I (fill in the blank)" It has made it very hard to be affectionate.

It is so easy for people to judge in this situation. The child that they see is not what the teachers, or we see. They have never had to be the ones to try and get her to follow rules, or do her work, or eat, or get dressed, or sleep which she never does. We get a lot of flack for being so strict. It is so easy to pass judgement when you have never walked in our shoes. Any expert on RAD will tell you that the child needs very clear, consistent rules with no room for loopholes. You may be able to tell your child they can ride their bike up and down the block and let it be at that. I have to say "You can ride from here, to here. Do not go in people's driveways, do not go in people's houses, do not ask strangers for anything, and do not leave your bike down the street alone." It sounds like a lot of strict rules to an outsider, however, I have learned from experiance to eliminate any loopholes because she has usually done one of the things I mentioned.

Another thing that is recomended is to enforce consequences. I cannot let her slide by with breaking a rule if it is one she knows well. To do so will only make her push it further the next time. By being consistent with discipline, she learns boundaries and actually spends less time in trouble. Everytime we have thought maybe we were too strict and let things slide, she has pulled major stunts that make the whole house miserable.

Like I said, it is so easy for someone to judge, but until you have been in our house for a long period of time, don't. There are reasons for every rule we have. They might not be the same rules you would have, but she is not the same as your child. No children are the same, and no parenting technique will work on every child.

I titled this one Two Steps Forward because lately, she has been hugging us just for the sake of being affectionate. There has been no "Can I's" just simple affection. An "I love you" has even crossed her lips several times and I really think she means it. I am so excited at this progress and I can't wait to see what happens next.