My husband and I went to our first support group for parents of RAD kids, and it was encouraging and discouraging all at the same time. The people who were there, mostly moms but one dad and two couples, were so kind and so real. To be able to sit in a room with people who all have RAD kids and KNOW exactly what we’re going through was priceless. I was the newbie on the block and asked a lot of newbie questions. They were all so patient and reassured me that I am very new to these RAD parenting techniques and horse therapy and that I just need to hang in there. The most helpful comment, which I sort of already knew but it was good to hear, was that this is the worst it will ever be. As my kids start to respond to the new techniques and the horse therapy, some of their behavior is actually getting worse. Some days I think the extinction bursts are going to kill us. (An extinction burst is the temporary increase in the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of the behavior targeted for extinction.)
One of my newbie questions, asked amidst a lot of tears, was whether I could really say I was doing my best when I still lose my temper sometimes and other times don’t provide the nurturing I know I’m supposed to. The group was uniform in responding that my efforts to be there that night (we drove an hour each way) and my willingness to try new techniques and therapies showed that I was doing my best. That alone made the whole drive worth it. The funniest part of the evening was when one of the parents was reassuring me that I’m not perfect and said, “These kids won’t LET you be perfect.” We all had a good laugh about that one.
The discouraging part was hearing some of the outcomes that these other parents had or are having with their kids. I’m willing to kill myself helping my kids, but when the child-raising is over, I really want them to be able to live independently, ideally have their own families, and operate on this side of the law. That wasn’t the case with many of these parents, although there were “success” stories.
I keep mulling over a little story the group leader read, symbolizing what it’s like to have a disabled or RAD child. In the story a young couple is so excited as they prepare for a trip to Italy (aka the birth of a non-disabled or RAD child) but when their plane lands, they find they’re in Holland. Windmills. Tulips. Almost everyone else is busy enjoying Italy (non-disabled or RAD kids) but this young couple is stuck in Holland. So what does Holland offer that they never could have found in Italy?
The outcomes I want for my kids are not under my control. (I hate that, by the way, may I just say?) so we may never get to the Roman Coliseum. I’m trying to figure out what pretty things we can make with all those tulips.
Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/245288