Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dr. Phil!

Former Dr. Phil logoImage via Wikipedia
I was watching Dr. Phil for a little while yesterday and on it were these people who had adopted a child from an overseas (ie, not American), orphanage. There were three women on the stage and a few more in the audience who were sharing their experiences.

It really struck me that these people were dealing with issues that we as carers deal with all the time, except we get training and support (if you know where to look and who to ask!). So the gist of the show was that children who are not given that initial love and bonding opportunity with an adult, be it parent, carer, nurse or worker in an orphanage all seem to have trouble forming long lasting suitable relationships with others as they grow.

The label for this is 'Reactive Attachment Disorder'. Very basically the child is unable to form appropriate social relationships. From being completely withdrawn, violent and angry to being overly familiar with complete strangers. For example, going into a strangers house, whether it be a carer or a carer's friend or family friend they haven't met before and just making themselves at home. Checking out the fridge, helping themselves to food, turning the tv on and flicking through the channels. Or they may hug or talk to strangers in the street or sit on strangers laps and think nothing of it, (which brings up the whole Santa Clause issue, but that's for another time LOL).

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is described in clinical literature as a severe and relatively uncommon disorder that can affect children.[1][2] RAD is characterized by markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate ways of relating socially in most contexts. It can take the form of a persistent failure to initiate or respond to most social interactions in a developmentally appropriate way—known as the "inhibited" form—or can present itself as indiscriminate sociability, such as excessive familiarity with relative strangers—known as the "disinhibited form".

This disorder can stem from not receiving appropriate adult contact during infancy and early childhood. This basically means, not enough cuddling or responding to cries of hunger or loneliness, not because the workers in the orphanages don't wants, they just can't give all the kids in their care the attention they need.

Mother and Child watching each otherImage via Wikipedia

As a teacher I've seen plenty of kids who have been unable to form appropriate relationships with their peers and with adults alike. Most of the kids we've shared our house with have been very, very comfortable to be here and showed no signs of stress. However, I now realise that this lack of outward stress can indicate something more going on inside. You think they are ok and settled and then without warning there is a tantrum or a crying fit or something that seems to come from nowhere.

And then I got to thinking, yes, as a carer and a teacher I do have access to training but what about the parents of kids with severe behaviour issues? Do they have access to respite? Do they even realise they need respite or what is going on with their child (biological or not)?

You probably all know at least one family who has a 'problem child' or a 'black sheep of the family'. That's the kid no one really wants to invite to the birthday party or have for a sleepover. I totally understand and can relate!

Imagine how their parents feel. Oh, they'd probably never admit it because they 'cope' and make the best with what they have.

I'm not saying these kids all have a some sort of disorder, not by any means, just that it's nice to be supportive of other parents in our community. You all know my little motto by now . . .

It takes a village to raise a child

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