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Showing posts with label ADHD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ADHD. Show all posts

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Reactive Attachment Disorder: Confessions of a Mother

This is my first post in a while...I wish I could tell you that I had been on a yacht in the clear blue ocean or in a cabin up in the mountains enjoying nature.  I wish I had a cutesie little graphic at the top so that you could pin this article.  Maybe I will make one at some point, but for right now, this is the most I can do. 

 Instead of spreading cheer to children everywhere, I have been admitting and visiting my child in the children's unit of our local mental health hospital.

Do you know what it is like to have to leave your child in the hands of strangers, knowing that he/she isn't in touch with reality?  That he/she is suicidal?  That you call to see how he/she is doing you hear the screams from 'the quiet room' <aka the padded room>.  That he/she "feels dead"???  That we may have to take him/her to residential care to live indefinitely?  What if your child came to visitation without shoes, or most recently, with zip ties for shoe strings because the shoe strings have been taken away because of the threat of self mutilation or death?

I do, and it hasn't been fun.  And it has been dreadful for my child.  I have gone through all sorts of emotions and feelings, from "How can we continue living like this?" to "How can we not continue living like this?"

What we thought was an episode of "another manic Monday" turned out to be an outreach from a child that is hurting worse than I could ever imagine.  Who knew that Reactive Attachment Disorder, or RAD, as it is called looked so much like a Bipolar diagnosis and ADHD??  Who knew that these three diagnoses could look like triplets?  I knew he/she had RAD as he/she has had the diagnosis for about 5 years, but no one told me it was the most important.  I have read about it, worried about it, and I have asked about it, but I never thought it would be this diagnosis that would dictate the life my child would lead.  Or dictate the life my family would have.  I am a mom...a teacher...I have three different teaching degrees.  How could I miss this?  How could I not know?  How could I miss the textbook characteristics that are rearing their ugly heads.  I could literally go down and check off the list that I am about to link here and nod in agreement with the therapists and physician in charge.  HOW DID I MISS THIS?

As a mom, my heart is breaking....and I have been told that it will get worse before it gets better.  The amount of stress we are feeling as a family is ginormous.  But, the good part is, we are facing it as a family.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and some close friends have been called on, and are praying. The youngest sibling has grown up so much in the last week and is learning to reinforce 'parental vocabulary' at the few limited visits we have had.  Who would have thought that would have to happen?  Need to happen?  

I have been very careful to protect my child's privacy.  I know one day it will be no big deal and we will charge head on into dealing with it with our 'public' friends.  But is so deep...that we feel like we need to have that added layer of protection for the child that has no close friends, has no one to hang out with, has no deeply seeded relationships.  

If we tell our friends about it will they keep their kids away from mine?  Will they warn there children to stay away from 'the teacher's kid'?  Will there ever be a deep friendship--a friend that can be called on?  A steady, positive influence?  Or will we always be worried about the types of friends that are collected?  Who will take on the role of care giver when we are not around? Will they be understanding?  Forgiving?  What will the future look like?

The forgiving...I am going to have to ask for a load of that.  I have been told that other teachers admire me for staying so calm in the classroom.  I am thankful they have not seen me in action at home.  I have punished my child for being mentally ill and didn't realize it.  I have made her go to her room.  Spanked her.  Had to restrain her.  Wanted to make her eat broccoli, which she hates.  I have chastized her and threatened her because of her grades.  I have cried over her homework with her because it was a punishment to me, too.  Or at least felt like it.  I just had no idea.  But what do I do now. How do we go on?  What am I going to have to learn and change?  Will I get the chance?

Because it is so ingrained in me, I have to think about RAD in the classroom.  Have I had a student with RAD before?  How did I cope?  What happens if I get a student with RAD?  Do any of my friends have kids in their rooms that could have RAD?  What advice could I offer when I have failed so badly with my own child's progress?

I am at an impasse.  I am going to have to relearn behaviors, go to therapy, learn better parenting, learn what to look for.  As I close, I will leave you with these links:

Children's Mental Health Disorder Fact Sheet

Reactive Attachment Disorders for Teachers 

An Open Letter to Educators

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Occupational Therapy on Tuesdays: Life With My Kids

As I travel through life with my two yahoos, I am learning more and more about the human brain and what it can do, and unfortunately what it can't do.  We have 30 some odd innate reflexes that we are born with and if they are not resolved age appropriately, then it can cause problems in every facet of our lives.

The focus today is on the Moro Reflex, which is the body's response to fight or flight reflex in an infant.  This reflex develops between nine and twelve weeks of gestation and is normally integrated so that it disappears by the age of 4-5 months.  So....we know infants can't fight or move out of the way when their environment rapidly changes, so they tend to stiffen, return to the fetal position, and then cry as a call of help.  When the baby is startled, the body sends out hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline, breathing changes and becomes for rapid, but more shallow, and there is an increase in blood pressure and the heart rate.  So what happens if the Moro Reflex is not integrated?

Unresolved Moro Reflex may cause:

  • Sleep disturbances, difficulty settling down to sleep
  • Easily triggered, reacts in anger or emotional outburst
  • Shyness
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Poor stamina
  • Motion sickness
  • Poor digestion, tendency towards hypoglycemia
  • Weak immune system, asthma, allergies and infections
  • Hypersensitivity to light, movement, sound, touch & smell
  • Vision/reading/writing difficulties
  • Difficulty adapting to change
  • Cycles of hyperactivity and extreme fatigue
  • Easily distracted, difficulty filtering out extraneous stimuli
  • Difficulty catching a ball
  • Difficulty with visual perception
  • Tires easily or is irritable under fluorescent lighting

How does it affect students in the classroom if it is not resolved?

These students will often show characteristics of ADHD because they are constantly being stimulated by the chemicals in the brain.  These are the students that, when bored, will find things to occupy their time by fumbling around in their desks.  These students are often immature, but creative and imaginative.  These students are constantly startled by the unexpected, hate loud sounds, and flashing lights.  They usually fatigue easily, causing them to fall behind in their work, may have messy work because they are always feeling rushed, and may have trouble making friends because they are disorganized, have trouble controlling their bodies, and may actually be more withdrawn than the typical student with ADHD (the consensus is that most with ADHD are ready to find the fun and join the party!). 

How does it affect adults if it is not resolved?

Adults that have retained the Moro Affect will often be stricken with anxiety, ego problems, struggle when taking criticism because it is taken very personally, have control issues, stay tired, and tense muscles which may result in back aches or migraines.

How can the Moro Reflex be resolved?

My daughter struggles with the Moro Reflex.  She is 11 years old, but many of her reflexes have not been integrated, so our Occupational Therapist recommended this exercise.  She is now working on the Starfish exercise.   I have to tell you, I have tried it (I suspect that my Moro Reflex is alive and well, too) and it is a very calming exercise.  This is only one of the exercises that can be used.  Contact an occupational therapist near you if you suspect that you have a child with unresolved reflexes.

And, on a lighter note I am trying to find some answers....

I recently bought some books to use with the Storia App....however, do not want to give out my Scholastic password to my students.  So, I have emailed Scholastic and asked for advice.  I'll let you know as soon as I find out!

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