We need more than RAD diagnosis. I am in the camp that hopes to see a consolidation of disorders under the umbrella of Complex Trauma Disorder.
It’s Time That We Address More Than RAD.
Anyone whose RAD child has more than one diagnosis, or anyone who suspects that their child has more than one disorder, raise your hand… The rest of you may leave the room. Since none of you got up and walked out, I’ll assume we all agree that we are dealing with more than Reactive Attachment Disorder. Some of us who write about disorders that plague children who come from hard places have referred to an Alphabet Soup of disorders that are used to help us find the right help for our kids. ODD, PTSD, RAD, FAS, FASD, ADHD are often heard and used. I talked about it in an article I wrote almost a year ago called Beyond RAD. Sometimes we think we can get more help if we can get every disorder that applies (and perhaps even some that don’t) tacked as a suffix onto our children. Sadly, this might be the case. But it’s a shame that we need to use erroneous information or even untruths to get the best help for our children. I’ll be the first to admit that there is more than RAD. But I don’t think we need so much segregation. In fact, I believe that the systemic segregation in disorders that plague children from hard places is extremely detrimental.
Friends… we are dealing with so much more than RAD.
A popular blog like this one is only part of the problem as people like me perpetuate the use of the Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis and the use of the acronym, RAD. There is a reason that I have been so long in moving away from this model. It’s Google’s fault. Seriously… I love Google. For me, it’s one of the greatest advancements of our time. Google is an incredible search engine for helping us to find exactly what we are looking for while filtering out so much of the clutter. But for articles to show up in the results of Google searches, there are principles that we writers follow, which help us to climb in rankings of how high Google places our articles when you search. And here’s the thing… People keep searching for RAD and Reactive Attachment Disorder. What this means is that for me to do my best in helping you with what I write, I need to have it so you can find it. That means loading articles, titles, subtitles and category identifiers with the words “RAD” and “Reactive Attachment Disorder.” But the over-use of those words is misleading because it indicates that I believe those words best describe how to find help for our children. I don’t believe that. Friends… we are dealing with so much more than RAD.
I think we are missing the forest for the trees when we look at Reactive Attachment Disorder as the problem rather than a symptom of the real problem, that is more than RAD.
Parents who are trying to help children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are dealing with so much more that FAS or FASD. The same can be said for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and others. While of course these disorders exist independently, that usually isn’t the case for children from hard places. In fact, I think we are missing the forest for the trees when we look at Reactive Attachment Disorder as the problem rather than a symptom of the real problem, that is more than RAD.
At least a class and three teachers in California understand that the trouble is more than RAD.
As is so often the case, people from California are leading the charge for governmental assistance based on rights. Here’s just a paragraph from the article that will show you what I’m talking about: Peter P. v. Compton Unified School District, filed in Los Angeles by Public Counsel and Irell & Manella LLP on behalf of a class of students and three teachers, seeks that Compton Unified School District incorporate proven practices that address the barriers to learning caused by trauma-in the same way public schools have adapted and evolved in past decades to help students who experience physical or other barriers to learning. (Click on the link for the full article.) At least a class and three teachers in California understand that the trouble is more than RAD. I believe that victories in court cases like this are what it will take for our children to get what they need.
We need our system to understand that our children are dealing with more than RAD.
In a nutshell, this suit’s goal is to have trauma exposure declared to be a disability. This is huge. Right now, when our RAD children need help, we work with their therapist to try to get them to diagnose our child with something… anything… that the system will be forced to treat as a disorder. This is what forces school districts to allow us to have IEPs for our children. This is what may (or may not) give us access to government funds to get residential (or other costly) treatment for our children. So… therapists for our children work with them and do their best to determine what disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostics and Statistics Manual best explains our children. This official diagnosis, tied to the “DSM” is what gives us access to help and resources for our children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder as well as other disorders that plague children from hard places. The difficulty is that, as I have argued, these disorders are only symptoms of the real problem, which is exposure to trauma, itself. “RAD” doesn’t cover the problem. “Reactive Attachment Disorder” is far too focused. It’s like trying to treat cancer by attacking a single cell rather than an entire area that has been affected. We need our system to understand that our children are dealing with more than RAD.
What plagues our children is not just what has been labeled as Reactive Attachment Disorder. Our children struggle with more than RAD and it is exposure to trauma, usually of many different forms and incidents. RAD, PTSD, ODD, FAS, FASD, etc. are only different (and almost always multiple) manifestations of being exposed to chronic trauma early in life. I will continue to use the words RAD and Reactive Attachment Disorder in my blog simply because I still believe that is the best way to get information out to parents and other caregivers like us. But you will see me use CTD and Complex Trauma Disorder more and more. Thanks for understanding.
Some questions for our discussion…
What exactly is the diagnosis of the child who is close to you?
What other diagnoses do you suspect that your child might have?
Have you ever suspected that your child struggles with more than RAD?
Do you agree that a diagnoses based on early trauma, something like CTD (Complex Trauma Disorder), would better serve us and our children?
Please don’t feel like you need to ask, to share. 🙂 Few things make me happier than your belief that my writings might help someone else. I love to see the likes, the comments, and especially, the shares. 🙂 Oh, and in case you’re interested, I almost always accept Friend Requests from other RAD Parents. Due to the way Facebook and the blog are set up, in the blog, on comments, I can tag you in them if we’re friends, but the program won’t let me tag you if we’re not. Here’s the link to my personal page: https://www.facebook.com/john.m.simmons2
Often, readers receive as much help from other readers in the comments section as they do from the blog article, itself. Please be generous with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. There are lots of people who need what you have to share. This is your chance to help them.
Read more blog articles by John M. Simmons about Disorders/Mental Illness
Return to John M. Simmons’ Blog
Ensure you don’t miss anything when you sign up for notifications