July 31, 2008

Fast and Snappy verses Processing Delays

As summer drags on and I find myself spending lots of extra time interacting with my children it's easy for me to get stuck thinking that all I ever do is "correct, order and reprimand" all day long...

Considering the fact that my lovely 10-year-old daughter has Fetal Alcohol Spectrume Disorders -- FASD, I have learned to be more patient with my instructions to her as well as recognize the fact that I will need to repeat myself over and over... I will need to Re-Teach her the same basic skills over and over... Prompt and remind over and over... doing so with Love and Tolerance.

The truth has been that since the moment I came to terms with the fact that FASD and in her case, Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders -- ARND, is not a behavior issue things have been much easier to deal with. What I used to view as her Reactive Attachment Disorder -- RAD behaviors seem to be more simple to manage and interestingly some of the most difficult behavior problems of a year ago have changed completely.

Things had become so difficult with Makala that we were not sure if we would be able to live that way much longer. Our attention had been working on "Attachment" for the four long years we had been together as a family. It's difficult to be told that a child behaves they way mine did--just because the child isn't attached to ME!

I had tried all the advice given by other parents with RAD Kid's and things only got worse in our home... Much worse.

You see, it's pretty hard for a child who has brain damage to be expected to react, respond or even understand the words they are hearing... at least right at the moment the words were spoken.

My perspective a year ago was right in line with the advice I was getting about "How To" parent a RAD Child. I was doing Attachment Parenting by the numbers, and feeling like the world around me simply had no clue what living with a RAD Kid is like... I was expecting my daughter to be "Fast and Snappy" and to do what I told her to do right when I told her to do it... I wasn't counting 1-2-3 so she would have three more chances to ignore me... Consequences were delivered swiftly and consistantly. And I expected her to look in my eyes when I spoke to her... This time last summer her room was nearly empty and there wasn't much else to take away from her without it going into the "abusive" side of consequences...

She wasn't happy.

I wasn't happy.

No One in this house was happy.

Things have changed a lot this year and it's mostly been because of the way I have changed how I deal with life. Learning to understand that brain damage caused by prenatal drug or alcohol exposure isn't the same as Not Attaching has changed our world.

Many parents dealing with the same or simular issue we have parenting our daughter seem to believe that RAD is the primary problem and that without healing the Reactive Attachment Disorer must happen before nearly anything else. I disagree and to be honest I didn't become a mother so that someone would Love and Attach to me. I became a mother so that I could raise up nice grown-up's who went on to have nice stable lives... If the kid's love and attach to me that's a bonus!

Fast and Snappy is how some therapists and RAD Parents Expect their child to respond when given an instruction. The child needs to learn to follow directions and react instantly when asked or told to do something. If the child doesn't respond Fast and Snappy then the child is simply being a Radish and resisting the control the parent has over their lives. Not jumping up and doing what they are told that Moment is seen as a sign of defiance...


Children with brian damage casued by prenatal Alcohol or Drug exposure often show this damage in areas of Processing information and limited short-term memory. These childrean just might NOT have processed an instruction or words spoken by the time they are in trouble and mom is counting 1-2-3 and giving out consequences. A child with FASD isn't willfully ignoring her parent's words nor is it about Attachment.

The bottom line for me and my family has been that Fast and Snappy only counts if the child is able to process new information and is in a state of mind where short-term memory isn't gone for the moment.

When the RAD Mom that I am stopped and came to understand that everything isn't about attachment and some things are about real life long and unrepairable brain damage our entire world has changed and so has Makala's.

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