RAD and food, fake hurts?
A couple questions for the RAD vets (since these are RAD-related behaviors):

1. My avoidant RADish has major food-related issues re: the dynamics of eating. Doesn't matter what food is presented, she "hates" it (but will eat and is often the first one done). No matter which restaurant we go to, she "hates" it (but again is cheery once the food arrives and is the first one done). To me it seems a clear control issue, so we've always allowed some control: "Which do you want--broccoli and carrots or corn with your spaghetti"? There was a time that she stayed home with one of us while the other went with the rest because she seemed to relish in making everyone else miserable. But then that one-on-one time with the other parent became a prize and so didn't improve the beeyatchiness she was showing the rest of the time. So, although we still try to take one-on-one time/activities with each kid, we don't keep her home while everyone else eats out once a week anymore. (The ironic thing is she ALWAYS orders spaghetti at every restaurant, so not sure why she hates every restaurant when her meal is always the same.)

NOTE: Attachment therpapist sent us to see a nutrition counselor who has worked with AD kids with food issues before, but we're not happy with what she advised:
1) we determine the WHAT (what food is offered), WHEN (specific, structured meal and snack times--3 meals, 3 snacks a day for an 11-yr-old!), and the WHERE (at the dinner table, not in front of TV, on the go, etc.). That part we could live with, but: our avoidant, moderately RAD kid should then decide the HOW MUCH (to eat...so if she wants helping after helping, we're supposed to just make more food. And yes, this one will gorge until she pukes and then her sibs will follow suit!) and the WHETHER (so if she supposedly "hates" everything on the table, she's welcome not to eat anything until the next snack/meal. I don't think she'd actually do that, though, as she's always "starving!" and once we act like we're willing to throw it away or give it to the dog, she'll shove it in her mouth when our backs are turned. Ha!)...NOTE: Our kids were severely neglected, so they all have food issues, but hers are the worst.

2. My eldest who is a charmer and cozies up to new teachers and parent classroom helpers has called home several times this year (w/in last 9 weeks) with minor pain complaints. (Fell in gym, cried, sent to office to put on ice, back to class...3 hours later, still complaining, so rather than deal with the complaining, teacher sends her to the office to call Mom to bring her some Tylenol. I never do--can't leave work in middle of day unless it's serious. That's why they have a nurse at school! Called about "bumping" into another kid at recess. Headband is giving her a headache. Fingers are sore from a too-long math test, etc., etc.)

Anyway, today it's her ears. She got her ears pierced over the weekend (we've put it off for 2 years. She tried piercing herself a few months ago, so we finally relented and told her on her 12th bday). Ears have been fine thru weekend, but today, first day back to school, she has been complaining all morning about her ears hurting. Teacher finally called me and asked me to bring Tylenol. Good grief! It's four days later, they are perfectly healthy (no swelling or redness), there's no way they can still hurt--is there? :rolleyes: So she put kiddo on phone and I gave her two choices: 1) Mom will leave work, come to school, remove earrings and that's it--no more earrings until she's a grown up, or 2) she can run some cold water over her earlobes and suck it up and be a "big girl" now that she's 12. She chose the latter, and her tone of voice went from babyish whining with tears (I can picture her face as she's speaking just by her tone), to a more solid, fuller volume, "OK, Mom, I'll do that. I want to keep my ears pierced."

So was I too hard on my RADish? Is what I'm thinking true--that this is her latest way to get attention and prove to the teachers that I'm abusing her? (Her teacher always sounds so disgusted when I tell her that "no, I'm not going to bring her medicine. She's fine, she just needs to xxxx..." or "This is her way of getting attention...") NOTE: My kids have only been at this new school for 9 weeks, so they're still fairly new and the teachers haven't seen the real RAD stuff yet....OR is it possible that my kiddo's newly pierced ears are really hurting, 4 days after they were pierced. (By day 2 she said they were feeling fine. Does the pain come back several days later? I was 10 when I had mine pierced, but I remember not crying and the pain, though intense, lasted only a few moments. I don't remember recurring pain. ???)

Thanks for your help!
I will start with the second child first as I dont have much experience with food issues (although I would say dont veto the therapist idea without trying it for a couple weeks - if it doesnt work, it doesnt work)

It sounds to me like your daughter is seeking a connection with you throughout the day in a somewhat unhealthy way. We did go through this. What we did is put a picture of us and a small note in the front of every binder so that there was a constant reminder of mom and dad's love throughout the school day. Then, the same in her lunch kit. I think your daughter needs to connect with you when she is away (a normal and relatively healthy sign of developing attachment) and is doing so in the only way she knows how - pretend to be sick and the school will "mandate" mom contact. Can you set up a healthier alternative? A phone call home or to you every lunch hour? An exchange of text messages over recess if she is allowed? The seeking connection and attachment is a good thing (even if done in an unhealthy way) so can you turn it around into a way that works for you?
I do put notes in her lunch box and book bag occasionally, so I could make that more routine. Hadn't thought of the picture, though. (Did that when they first came home nearly 5 years ago, but it wasn't long before older two were embarrassed by that and asked me to stop. I still send the encouraging notes, though, now "hidden" in lunch box.) Wink

However, I don't think she's consciously seeking contact with me since she's not asking for me. She's just complaining (on and on, apparently) to teacher who eventually sends her to office to call home. This is the first year she has had phone privileges at school, so maybe it's the novelty? (Her old school would look her over in nurse's office, treat if necessary (ice or band aid) and send her back to class. Calls home were rare, and always by the secretary or nurse, never by my kiddos.

That's why I'm wondering if it's a triangulation thing (kiddo and teacher vs. uncaring Mom), or perhaps just the novelty of being able to call home (she has ALWAYS visited the office numerous times with multiple complaints. Real hurts/cuts she barely notices, though. Typical RADish.) :eek: Or perhaps, as you suggested, increasing attachment (she's my anxious/aggressive attachment kiddo), trying to seek Mom connection? Who knows? AT isn't any help, either. She's of the Dan Hughes, etc. school of thought which means a very painstakingly slow path to healing and rather than trying to figure out the underlying cause of these "symptoms," I'm just supposed to focus on connecting. (Sounds great in theory--not so easy in practice.)
My first thought with the ear issue at school was that yes, it was the triangulation routine-- they are exceptionally good at making you look like an uncaring creep when they just need your help...hence the poor me with the teacher. My kid is only six and I've gotten it multiple times with school teachers, Sunday School teachers, etc. It only stops when the consequence is worse than the "benefit" of all the sympathy and pleasure of making you look like you don't care about your child. And losing the earrings appears to have done it for your child. It's always a risk/benefit sorta calculation for them.

I think your response was excellent, and great quick thinking. And no, unless infected (and that would be obvious) the ear should no longer hurt. I had mine done at 20 so I have perfect memory and it wasn't painful for more than a few hours. Not four DAYS!
I also have a RAD who will call home constantly. Actaully for a while it was the nurse constantly calling me to come pick him up, because he was sick, always at the exact same time. Come to find out he is bored in math (which is good at) and he loves the attention he gets when he fakes sick. He would get attention from the teacher, the aid, the nurse and whomever was in the office. Plus then I would have to come get him and he would have time alone with me. Finally I had to do a couple of things. One I got a note from the doctor that he runs hot. (he was coming in from recess after running around in hot weather and saying he had a fever, plus amputees run hot because they don't have the skin to disperse heat) and then I had to tell the teachers that they had to see the diareah that he claimed to be having. Of course then he came up with pooping in his pants and then peeing a little and smooshing it around to make it look like diareah. (He sat in the backseat of my car one day and explained how to do it to his cousin - busted!)
Anyway, he also has food issues, but they are control and habit issues. He did not eat and lost weight for a long time. Now he eats enough to maintain his weight, he is not growing and not gaining. He has gained only about 2-4 lbs in three years. Right now we are letting it go, but he is way to thin and as he is getting taller eventually it will become an issue again, but he has stopped throwing up and at least eats a few bites each day. So we are letting it go for now to break the throwing up and eating nothing habits.
Oh lord have I BEEN THERE with the food issues!! Our son was 7 when he came to us. There were a couple of problems. One was that he had been fed whatever he wanted by saying he either didn't like the food or wasn't hungry at dinner. Our resolution was this:

5:30-6:15 was dinner time. You did not have to eat. That was fine if you chose not to. However, your presence was required at the table. If you wanted to complain about dinner, all complaints would be accepted after the dishes were cleared. This took a lot of the control away of the "I am going to make dinner miserable for everyone" game. (Another friend would only accept written complaints in a complaint box. You had to state the date, time, your complaint, and what you wanted done about it on the form and put it in the box, and she would get back to the child within 2 business days. The only complaint she ever got? The kids didn't like the complaint box.) My son tends to go between "I'm not eating that. I hate it. Even though I ate it yesterday and loved it" or overeating and making himself ill. He will sometimes do this as a reaction to emotional stress and sometimes he will do it if it's something everyone else in enjoying so they can't have more of it. (He has admitted to this).

So I wouldn't allow your RADlet to control portions. I would say she can have seconds and then I'd make her wait maybe 15-20 minutes and if she's still hungry she can have more. In the 15-20 minutes I'd make her get up from the table and go do something else.

The Whether she eats thing I think will work. Because she'll likely be hungry an hour after dinner and then you just pleasantly offer to reheat her supper for her. I'd give it a try at least. You could also link it to something like: "Those people who did not eat the last meal will not be permitted to use screen time until they have eaten their next meal". "can I play Wii?" "I'm sorry, but you didn't eat your lunch. You can try again at dinner. Bummer".

With the restaurants, mine will often do the same thing. He hates any restaurant but McDonald's but will clean his plate most of the time. Conversely, if he's in a bad mood he will refuse to eat the food at the restaurant of his choosing, food he's always liked and then will carry on as if we are starving him. One thing we had to do until this year was not allow my son to order off anything but the Children's Menu because he couldn't handle the large number of choices he had on the "Big" menu.

I agree, do not keep her home with a parent. It's a control thing, plain and simple. And it's probably a triangulation thing where she doesn't WANT her parents to spend happy time together, because then they might like EACH OTHER more than her. (Again, this came out with my son in Therapy).

You were not too hard on her with the earring thing. For awhile there, I was getting 2-3 phone calls a WEEK from my son's school. He escalated to making himself vomit so I would come get him. Now, if I get a call from school I am 90% sure he's actually sick. I have gotten ONE phone call to bring tylenol but that's because the school can't administer it, only a parent can, and kiddo wanted to STAY at school for gym but had a headache.
I don't think I would be cooking unlimited quantities of food, either. That is not reasonable in terms of time or money, I'm sorry. And if my kid eats all of the crock-pot chili I'd just been cooking for the last 8 hours, there won't be more of it for at least 8 hours - it just doesn't work. What we do in general is make enough for reasonable portions for everyone (often including seconds), and if anyone is still hungry, we always have canned vegetables, fresh vegetables, and/or fresh fruit available to eat. These are not offered *in place* of dinner, but if one is still hungry after dinner has been eaten. I have yet to see either of my kids eat themselves sick on carrots (but I'm not quite sure how I would handle it if they did...?!). I don't mind my kids eating if they are hungry, but it is going to be something generally healthful and reasonable for me...
My first rad foster kid was an older teenager, and he would complain about the least little pain. However, when he slipped on the ice on the ramp outside our house, he never told me and went to school, immediately went to the nurse, who called me to come take him to the hospital where he had to have surgery for the injury.
I was snorting over the incident with the nurse's station because it sounds like "H", my drama queen. She doesn't have RAD but she's a hypochondriac and is on a first name basis with the school nurse! She has stopped going except maybe once a month because on days she would visit the nurse she was too sick to play outside, video games, or stay up past dinner and bath time. Sick children need their rest, after all! Fortunately, our nurse rarely called and we sign permission at the beginning of the year to dispense tylenol, benadryl, etc as needed. My other kids just always told on her, lol!
Wow, thanks for all of the suggestions and personal experiences with these issues, everyone! This is what we're lacking from our attachment therapist--real, workable solutions and being able to connect with other parents who've btdt. That's why I love this board!

kburch said...
I don't think I would be cooking unlimited quantities of food, either. That is not reasonable in terms of time or money, I'm sorry. And if my kid eats all of the crock-pot chili I'd just been cooking for the last 8 hours, there won't be more of it for at least 8 hours - it just doesn't work. What we do in general is make enough for reasonable portions for everyone (often including seconds), and if anyone is still hungry, we always have canned vegetables, fresh vegetables, and/or fresh fruit available to eat. These are not offered *in place* of dinner, but if one is still hungry after dinner has been eaten. I have yet to see either of my kids eat themselves sick on carrots (but I'm not quite sure how I would handle it if they did...?!). I don't mind my kids eating if they are hungry, but it is going to be something generally healthful and reasonable for me...

Also, another point is? My son would've insisted he was hungry just to get me stop doing what I was doing and do something FOR HIM (cooking more food). It had nothing to do with being hungry. We know he was not fed regularly as a child and so "I'm hungry" or "I have to go to the bathroom/ I accidentally peed on the floor" or "I'm HURRRTT!" were the things that always made the adults in charge back off and give him what he wanted (delayed bedtime, no shower just yet, put off the homework, interrupt the conversation mom and dad were having). It will likely get worse before it gets better. Stand your ground.
If my kids are hungry between meals and planned snacks they may make themselves a peanut butter sandwich. They can all do this themselves, and clean up the mess, and my youngest is 4 years old. (No gross motor delays.) They know where the wipes are to wipe up, the know how to put the dirty utensils in the appropriate place, and how to put the bread away. If they don't want a peanut butter sandwich, they can't be THAT hungry. :evilgrin

I do have two kiddos that tend to 'melt down' if they don't have enough glucose on board, so we try to make sure that they eat regularly (every 2 hours, so their blood sugar remains level and doesn't drop) and we try to not give them Moon Pies and soda because it just whacks them out. Some of the signs of low blood sugar are an inability to concentrate, irritability (sometimes hair trigger and extreme) and loss of coordination. If one of these two kids gets irritable I give them a quick snack, even if it is right before a meal. Times when blood sugars might drop are after physical or mental exertion. One of mine will get cranky during school, often in the middle of writing assignments which is something that requires lots of brain power for him. Another often wakes up as a huge crab, after fasting all night.

*After typing in that my kids don't have gross motor delays, my youngest (4 yo) just closed the door on her own foot. :arrow:
We keep things like apples and string cheese that they are allowed to have anytime available. We also have had to limit meal time with our kid with the eating disorder. He would move his food around for hours and keep saying he wasn't done yet, trying to keep me at the table with him. He would throw and hide food if I left, even when I told him it was OK to leave it on the plate. So we had a time limit with a timer and when the timer went off dinner is over and we clear the table.
I'll second the timer at the table-- mine used to sit for HOURS (literally, totally by choice, completely free to leave) at the table saying he "wasn't done". A girlfriend suggested the timer and it worked super well. He'd get ten minutes after we had finished and then the plate was picked up. I don't do it routinely now, but it has come out when he kicks back to that habit. I also, as others have mentioned, determine his portion sizes and he can ask for more if he wants...which is rare since he'd rather die (and I'm only half kidding) than ask me for anything. If he's elsewhere he'll ask for plate after plate and show off eat for the attention. I guess I don't give good enough attention for that show :arrow: .
I'm going to use some of these ideas. I like the - "all complaints will be taken after the meal" idea.

I was so tired of the whining over food, especially when I try to cook things that everyone likes or has liked at one point in time. Finally, I decided to do something similar to what your therapist suggested. We have set times to eat and that is when you eat. If you whine or cry at the table your food is removed. No second chances. If you grab the food and shove it in your mouth before we can get to the plate, we put them on the thinking square in the dining room (square of rug on the floor right next to us - but not at the table -basically you lost the priviledge) while every one else finishes dinner (oh and no dessert). If you are still hungry after you eat the main dinner then we do try to find additional healthy food - vegetables or fruits. OR we just move to dessert. Sometimes we check our stomachs and really talk about whether or not we are really hungry or if we are ready for dessert. They get small desserts (if they have eaten a protein and their vegetables). I find that having a small dessert helps them move on from the main course and closes out the meal for them - in their head.

I do let them eat as much as they want, of whatever I choose. Our youngest one isn't RAD but she has food issues and at 4 (size of a 2yo) will eat as much as hubby eats in one sitting. She hasn't ever thrown up from eating too much, but she routinely can't see her feet after eating. We don't worry because her 2T pants fall off of her.

I'd say give the therapists ideas a try. Remember, that it will probably be miserable for awhile. She isn't going to want you to control the food and she will react. But once you make it through and she realizes that none of her reactions change anything - she will probably stop.

OH - and I think you handled the ear issue perfectly. Two good choices and she chose one. AND her choice validated your thoughts.
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