Tuesday, June 5, 2018

My what a difference a few years can make.  To say that we've been overwhelmed with the issues that stem from Josie's early life before us would be the ultimate understatement.  Wow.

After four years of reading books, blogs and websites...meeting with psychologists, family counselors, psychiatrists, eating disorder specialists, a hypnotherapist and two biofeedback specialists we have come to this;  Josie suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder, an eating disorder, habitual lying and food kleptomania (including stealing money to buy food).

Sadly, she has never bonded with us and the Reactive Attachment Disorder only deepens that wound. She has no sense of consequences, no sense of self preservation and her attachment is to food.  No consequence has changed her stealing of food behavior for ten years and no therapy has helped.  Her ability to manipulate therapists is incredible.

Josie also suffers from some spatial and cognitive gaps/losses. She has done well in school until this year where some of the missing layers of information are now needed in fourth grade.  It is very difficult for her to apply what she has learned to everyday life with cognitive connection.  Friendships are difficult for Josie as she usually ends up stealing food from friends or manipulating them into helping her get it.  She has also stolen money from friends and her brothers.  Even young friends know she's doing the wrong thing and eventually playdate and birthday invitations stop...or...we can't trust her to not hurt other people in those situations, so we don't let her go in the first place.

Her saving grace has been soccer.  She is the starting keeper for a pre-academy team with a great soccer club.  On the soccer field she can just be herself without the temptations her issues present in other environments.  We try to keep her engaged in soccer as much as we can.

I remember reading posts like this...there were only a few back in 2008...and wondering why the parents couldn't figure out how to help or change or "fix" their child.  The sad reality is that some of the trauma that these children face at such a young age may not be reversible.  There are options to help them with techniques to work through daily life.  But the simple fact is that babies need parents and they need them especially in the first year of life.  Josie's issues will follow her for her entire life. Even when she's an adult and old enough to decide the kind of person she wants to be, it will take conscious positive daily choices to fight her battles.

Josie was 11 months old when we met her.  From what I know now, we were already too late.  Her orphanage did the best they could.  But even passing babies around from caregiver to caregiver in an orphanage environment is damaging by not allowing any bonding to occur.  No stimuli, no inputs, no creeping, no crawling, no songs, no books, no "puppies & kitties are cute," no "ouch, it's hot," no options to learn empathy (you made Susie sad), no "that's not yours, please give it back," really there was just nothing but being held while she ate...and that's what she learned of love.

Biofeedback has given us the chance to look into Josie's brain to better understand how she operates. Even now at age 10 1/2 she is almost 60% in survival mode (opportunistic, looking for ways to get what she wants immediately, over-reactive to normal stimuli), and only 15% in her frontal cortex (free thinking, cognitive abilities) and about 15% basic limbic function.  Right now she is in a 4 month biofeedback program with the goal of making nerve connections to balance her brain functions.  Normal numbers would present with 60% frontal cortex and only 15% survival (most of us need this for emergency situations only).  I will be interested to see what progress we can make.

I can't say I'm hopeful at this point as I've seen years of therapies come and go without any change in Josie's behavior.  This is just something new to try in our attempts to both help her and survive her.  Every day is a battle as she will lie, cheat, steal and manipulate me, my husband and her three brothers and those in our community.  We are all pretty morally and emotionally wounded and though we love her and want the best for her, she is a very difficult person to care for.  It's a devastating situation for everyone involved.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is fairly complicated, understudied and doesn't have any known direct corrective therapies (though we're trying everything we can).  I've posted the Disinhibited RAD characteristics that Josie's case is consistent with below:

(RAD) Disinhibited type:
  • Indiscriminate sociability
  • Inappropriately familiar or selective in choice in attachment figures
  • Seeks attention from anyone
  • Displays inappropriate childish behavior
  • Frequently asks for help doing things
  • Violates social boundaries
Additional symptoms:
Relationships: In relationships, a person who has RAD may be bossy, untrusting, manipulative, and controlling. They may have challenges giving or receiving genuine love and affection. Their unstable peer relationships are tenuous at best, as children and teens with RAD blame others for their mistakes or challenges.
Behavioral: Destructive, irresponsible, impulsive, and defiant behaviors. Children or teens with RAD may steal, lie, or act in a self-destructive manner. They also may avoid physical contact with others, and engage in drug or alcohol abuse.
Moral:  Teens with RAD may lack faith, compassion, and remorse for their actions.
Emotional: Children who have RAD may feel sad, moody, fearful, anxious, depressed, and hopeless. These children may display inappropriate emotional reactions.
Thoughts: Children and teens who have RAD may have negative beliefs about themselves, life, and other relationships. These children and teens are unable to understand the concept of cause and effect. Additionally, they may experience inattention and challenges with learning.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Josie Turns 6!


I'm not sure how time has passed this quickly.  2014 began with Josie turning 6 years old!
She is quite a sharp young lady who is an avid reader and writer already.  Josie was also just selected for a competitive Girls U7 soccer team.

I had hoped when we started this adventure and blog in 2008 to be diligent about recording the goings-on of our family.  But I'll be honest - it's nuts around here - and we love it!  With four children we happily find ourselves on the go most of the time.

My hope is to pop in and say hey when we have a moment of down time...or perhaps for big events...

Thanks for following along patiently!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Josie found her joy!

We've been asking Josie to "find her joy" ever since bringing her home.  She loves the ocean and it was the only thing she didn't have a fear of when we first introduced her to it.

Camp Pendleton Beach Aug '09

Camping at the beach the weekend before school started!

With Nanny & Pompa in NC