how to explain attachment disorder to unbelieving family??
We have been home for almost 2 years with our 3yo attachment son. Our family does not understand what our lives are like and do not see the attachment issues. One reason is that when we are with other people, we keep him very close to us and this limits what he does. If I would leave him, he would go to anyone, sit on anyone's lap, etc.

So, how do I explain this to unsuspecting family members? they are mostly respectful of this issue, but still don't see anything and think we are very strict and some of it is typical kid behavior.

Our attachment therapist recommended a Nancy Thomas respite DVD, but I thought I'd ask for help on this board. Thanks!
The respite DVD is good but with a 3 year old that you've had since 1, chances of getting anyone to believe you are slim. (I believe you)

I quit trying to explain it. Sadly, that means eliminating some get togethers and slacking on rules at others to avoid triagulation.

Sorry I don't have a better answer.
there are also some great videos on Youtube, one in particular by Christine Moers was made to explain RAD to her family.

We get it. And we believe you.
I know you don't want to hear this - but you can't explain it unless the family wants to hear it. Even then, its hard to explain. Because our kids save their RAD behavior for us and show their charming side to others, we often look crazy. Its one of the most frustrating parts of parenting a RAD child. Like the others said - we believe you and we get it.
Yep, it's a tough one. I have accepted that they are not going to understand, but I will insist that they cooperate! My mom understands the most because she has come and stayed here in our home for 2 weeks at a time. My dd even started doing the "payback" thing with my mom!

You could always do that!:eek: Just have the family over for a dose of your life!

Honestly, if you really want to explain things to your family, maybe a video is the best way. That way it is not coming from you. It is a professional.

I have a hard time understanding this crazy world of RAD myself sometimes!:eyebrows:
I bought 'When Love is Not Enough' by Nancy Thomas and we read it as well as the grandmoms!
I gave my mom a couple books to read and then had her come stay for 2 weeks (1 is not enough). She gets it now! As for the rest of the family, while I love them dearly I don't really care if they get it. I know what I know and I can see the progress my kids are making. You just have to devolop thick skin and a slippery back so you can just let it all roll off!
Here's a link to some free resources from [URL=""]Heather Forbes/Beyond Consequences[/URL] including audio and video files, and some really good articles (I especially enjoyed the one about the issues faced by adoptive moms). It's a different approach than Nancy Thomas' and might be easier for your family to apply when they're around. My sister gave me the first book of the series -- after she had read it and was surprised to discover the roots of some of her own relationship issues. The new therapist my daughter and I are seeing tells me Heather's approach is based on brain research that is more recent than the information Nancy Thomas was working from. My first attempts at employing the Beyond Consequences method has been rewarded with a much less stressful home -- and it's a lot calmer and quieter. Smile
I have learned it is very hard to get family to understand. I no longer have a relationship with 2 sisters due to the fact that our adopted 14 yr old with RAD. They don't understand what we go through in our home because when around daughter she is very sweet and charming. I have gave them a book to read which also states the symptoms of RAD and the ones that she has which i over half. But they still don't see it. At age 15 daughter had got so out of control and with sister believing stories we had adopted daughter removed from home for her safety and ours.(was experiencing the good parent/bad parent)she was also starting to hurt other child in home. She was placed in a group home and we had bi-weekly family therapy for a year that did not help. DSS was involved due to sibling calling and relaying stories that adoptive daughter called and told her. Sister never called (since we leave out of town since daughter was 14) us to verify what was happening because they believe she was sweet and innocent.
So I guess what I am trying to say is that some family members just don't understand. We lived with my mother for 3 months before we moved out of town and the once GD that she thought was innocent she learned by us living with her what exactly we experienced on a daily basis. You really have to be around a RAD child daily to understand the problems we experience which outside the home and around others the RAD child is very sweet and innocent.
We no longer have adoptive daughter she was very persistent on not wanting to be in family and wanted to be adoptive by another family(she really doesn't understand the meaning of adoption)so with the suggestion of 3 therapist decided to voluntary relinquish our parental rights. 3 months later she decided she didn't get new family and wanted us back and state would not allow it. 2 years have gone by now heard about 6 months ago she was placed in another county in a foster home I believe a therapeutic one and have learned she is not happy there either. Tried to talk with her through email 6 months ago and she wanted nothing to do with us and responded very nasty. Just a few days ago she sent us an email wanting to know how I am and the family. then went on to explain how great she is and also that she has some questions she would liked answered.
I have not replied back to her and feel she is just seeing if we are still there for her. Not sure what to do.
Heard she is unhappy where she is at which I believe is because they are very structured and also the therapy might be getting to involved in her life (which she do es not like and will shut down or try to run from) Believe they are not using a therapist educated about RAD. Because she plays so sweet and innocent around the people that don't show her deep down love like she experienced , that they are treating her for just mainly some behavioral problems.
I think there should be meeting where such as GP, sibling and family members can attend to help them understand what parents with a RAD child experiences.
You could maybe try getting a copy of the book, "Don't Touch My Heart". It's pretty short, tells the story of a little boy adopted by the usual well-meaning (read, clueless) nice parents with 2 Biological-kids. Tells of his life at his mom's home =:-o Tells of his life after he joins the family, including him attacking mom, the dog, getting the other kids in trouble, then, Ta Da, setting the barn on fire. At which point they decide to do attachment therapy for him. (yathink?)

It's about 100 pages, so not too long, and does a fantastic job of details in an abusive home, and his view of the world from the inside out, and the wreckage he doles out on every level in adoptive home. Would probably draw them in, as it's a story.
Lorraine123 said...
I know you don't want to hear this - but you can't explain it unless the family wants to hear it. Even then, its hard to explain. Because our kids save their RAD behavior for us and show their charming side to others, we often look crazy. Its one of the most frustrating parts of parenting a RAD child. Like the others said - we believe you and we get it.

i wish i had a "like" button so i could just second this.
We wrote a letter that explains some of the psychology, explains some of what we see at home and is very clear about the fact that it doesn't show up for outsiders and why. I believe we pointed out a few little cues that outsiders could look for and see that things aren't quite right. Did it help? Maybe. At least it caused people to question their own superior knowledge of the subject and helped to keep them quiet. I think the results would depend on how much respect you command in your family and among your friends.
We adopted our daughter at age 5. The process took 18 months and should have taken less than 6 because it is an in the family adoption. The birth parents fled to LA to become "rock stars" and left our adopted daughter in her abusive biological grandmothers home. She was removed from that home and NOT placed with us even though we pitioned for the adoption AND had been approved by the county AND were in the process of terminating parental rights.

Needless to say, we eventually did finalize the adoption and now, after EIGHT years of RAD behavior, my dad finally gets it. He finally gets that the most normal things are difficult for her to accept (e.g., hey dad, what do you think of my clothes today?" Well, I think your skirt is too short.") Major problems for me. I am on the SH*t list for the next 24-48 hours.

My family thinks we are overly strict, overly protective, and do not realize thar structure, rules, and predictability help ease anxiety and allow her to feel secure.

She is the perfect school hall monitor and rule police. Thus not too many friends. Does not get relationships with other girls and more easily relates to boys. Hey, they either like you or they don't and it way more simple for her RAD to grasp.

Our in-laws got it because they stayed wiht us for six weeks at a time and she let them see everything.

We went through 16 weeks of DBT therapy this year and have been in individual counseling since age 6. It does get better and she is getting better and wants to help herself by making changes and allowing herself to calm down. If you want to talk more, send me a message. Good luck.
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