July 2 – Another option possibly?


Ana’s therapist recently told us about a residential facility in New Mexico, Villa Santa Maria, that specializes in attachment disorders. I spoke to the director about Ana’s situation he seemed optimistic that he could help us.

What a relief!

Now I get to fight the Medicaid battle to get them to pay for it cause Lord knows we can’t afford $400/day!

I really hope we can get this for Ana. I would like her to try this center out before we get to a point where she has to leave our house for everyone’s safety. If she goes to this center and she still cannot live with us at least I will have known that we tried everything.

I am leaving this in the Lord’s hands. I know he will open the necessary doors for this to work if it is in His plan.

Please pray for us and for Ana.


February 16 – The week in review

Ana, Hannah and Drew on vacation last year

Ana, Hannah and Drew on vacation last year

This has (thankfully)  been a very uneventful week with Ana. There were a lot of noises and the transition from school to home was rough (not sure why) but overall it’s been good.

Ana had one typical, text-book, RAD moment this week. We, as in my husband and I, have been struggling with her yucky noises and not reacting to them, so we enacted a new rule – yucky noises are allowed outside and in Ana’s room only. This is for everyone’s sanity! She is allowed to make quiet noises in the rest of the house but if she starts with the obnoxious noises we tell her she’s welcome to make all the yucky noises she wants, but she needs to move downstairs (to her room).  No anger. No frustration. We even smile when we say it.

This has really thrown her for a loop since SO MANY battles have focused on her noises. I was waiting for the boundary testing to begin, and begin it did this week. As usual, Ana waited till I was super, über busy to push. I was frying bacon, holding a fussy baby, comforting a crying toddler and refereeing Hannah and Drew and Ana started her noises. I nicely told her to go down to her room. She said no. So, still being nice, I escorted her down to her room. Before I even got back to the bacon, she was back upstairs, yucky noises in tow.

I took her back downstairs, less friendly this time. She followed me back up.

I told her she could not come back up until her noises were out of her, and I’d let her know when that was. So she stood on the top step and yelled.

At this point I knew she had won. I had two choices. I could ignore the noises because I was busy (the win goes to Ana) or I could spend my time chasing her down the stairs every other minute (win for Ana because she had my attention). I could not think of any other way to remedy the situation.

I admit, I gave up. I put her downstairs and ignored her.

Since then I’ve done a lot of reflecting and found my flaw in that situation. I should never have allowed myself to get in a situation where I could not drop what I was doing and attend to Ana. I got off my plan.

We now have one of Ana’s classroom assistants who is coming to help me a few hours each week. I need to allow her to help me more so that I can focus on Ana when the need arises. It is hard, though, to rely on anyone, and my kids aren’t used to it.

On a good note, Ana did something totally NOT RAD like this week as well. She was in a fit on the way home from school, kicking and screaming in the van and accidentally kicked Hannah, who in turn could have won an Oscar with the performance she put on.

Ana really felt bad. Sincerely, totally, 100% felt bad that she hurt her sister. She hugged her and calmed down. I was so proud of her!

There is hope, after all.

Feb 8 – This week has been pretty good (cross my fingers, knock on wood)

September 2013 - This captures Ana's great personality that so many people never see

September 2013 – This captures Ana’s great personality that so many people never see

I hate to be optimistic, but so far things are going well. We’ve had a lot of snow which means a lot of snow days but Ana has handled it well and hasn’t gotten on my last nerve. One new practice that is working better than I imagined is making her say things on her iPad (since she can’t talk).

For instance, when she keeps asking about visiting her grandparents, I have her say with the iPad, “I want to visit Grandma, but I cannot today.” Or if she starts talking about going to daddy’s house, I have her say, “I want to see daddy today, but I cannot visit until Friday.”

I think it is working so well because I’m acknowledging her request AND giving her a reasonable response. It also is great practice for her using her iPad with complete sentences instead of just nouns and verbs (a skill we’re diligently working on).

Other than that, she’s had a few meltdowns – nothing major. We’ve began telling her to go ahead and put holes in the wall and she can fix them when her stepdad gets home. That has seemed to stop the destruction.

We’ve also eased up A LOT on noises. For our sanity we’ve had to put restrictions on where she can make her ‘yucky noises’. She is allowed to make all the loud noises she wants in her bedroom, the living room and outside. Everywhere else in the house is a quiet noise zone. So far, it is working. Also the car is a quiet noise zone. If she decides she needs to make loud noises while in the car I pull over and let her get out to make all the loud noises she wants. I do not get angry or frustrated which deflates her little plan with the yucky noises. I have also started building time into my car trips for this so the frequent stops won’t interfere with appointment times and the like.

While it feels good right now that all my scheming is working I, of course, realize that I’ve thrown Ana a curve ball and she is sizing up the new situation so she manipulate it as soon as possible. I have doubt she will be successful. But until that day arrives I will enjoy my relative control over her. Then, I will readjust.

Such is the story of my life with Ana.

February 1 – Stop the noises!

An illustration of Ana's Yucky Noises

An illustration of Ana’s Yucky Noises

My biggest problem, currently, with Ana’s behavior is how to get anything accomplished when dealing with the rest of the world. She makes these awful noises, purposefully, to annoy the crap out of everyone within earshot. My husband and I have agreed to basically ignore them at home in the hopes they will diminish (someday soon!) but other people DEFINITELY react to them and are rightfully bothered.

For instance, the phone. When I get any phone call Ana begins with the ‘yucky noises’. Now, according to our plan she is to always be with me – no time outs. And she is cool with that. 100% cool. But, when I get a phone call I have to take, and she is making yucky noises and the other person can’t hear me, what do I do? I’ve tried putting her in her room, but she flips out and begins trying to punch holes in the wall with her cast. Then, she gets herself upset and negates all the hard work we spent the day doing.


If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them. This is one manipulative cookie I have!

When we are out and she starts the noises one of us takes her outside or to the car. That works well, but the phone is a different story all together, and she knows it.

We have a plan!

Literally. This is our plan. Please let me know if you have tried similar plans and if so, how did they work? What would you change?

The Attitude – this should be what Ana sees from us at all times

The (long-term) Goal – for Ana to be comfortable away from us, and our attention, pursuing her own interests while respecting our role as parents in that we are to be respected and obeyed.

The (short-term) Goal – for Ana to depend on us for making the best choices for her

Identified short-term behaviors to eliminate

  1. self-injuring
  2. noises meant to annoy
  3. repeating herself with the intent to annoy – not communicate

Identified behaviors to encourage

  1. voluntarily participating in family activities
  2. voluntarily communicating thoughts and feelings
  3. demonstrate emotions other than anger and silly/happy

keep Ana busy

  •  have easily achievable tasks for her to do
  • (ex) pull out socks, pick up shoes/dirty clothes/Grace toys/etc, wipe table, clean kitchen chairs, dust, water plant, feed cats
  •  if at all possible, the tasks should be a joint effort
  •  do not praise her for doing them, BUT MAINTAIN THE ATTITUDE
  •  if she does not/will not do it, hand over hand

Ana is to have no choices

  • that does not mean we can’t choose what she would choose
  • always make choices for her that have the highest chance of her success
  • if she gets upset with our choice explain to her that we need to make choices for her right now because she has trouble making good choices

Preventative measures

  • for the time being, Ana makes no unnecessary trips out (subject to change based on behavior)
  • Ana stays in the room with one of us at all times
  •  no rewards announced ahead of time
  • no if/then statements (if you are quiet at church you’ll get candy)

Consistent consequences

  • for self-injuring or hurting others, restraint
  • for purposeful bad manners at dinner, sit in chair in kitchen while we finish, then she finishes. If she throws a fit, I’ll go sit with her in another room until everyone else is finished. I’ll read or do something else/not pay attention to her and ignore yucky noises
  • if she talks about daddy or anything connected to him try to script what she is feeling or is possibly feeling (“I hear you say daddy and stepmom but are you really nervous?”).

– explain everything to her: “Ana, I’m sorry you have to sit and watch us eat, but I don’t think you’re ready to eat at the table with others yet. You can try again tomorrow.” or “Since you’re not ready to be in a room by yourself you can help me _______ so you don’t get bored.”

My schedule

6:15 – wake up

6:30 – wake up Hannah and Drew, get them going

6:50 – wake up Ana

7:10 – Ana at table eating breakfast, otherwise ready to go

7:20 – take girls to school

2:30 – pick girls up

2:30 – snack

2:45 – fun activity at table with all girls

3:15 – homework all girls

3:30 – start dinner, pick up house

4:30 – Drew do homework at table, Grace and Hannah can watch tv

6:00 – dinner

6:30 – clean up after dinner – entire family

7:00 – baths (tv time)

7:30 – Ana bedtime/book

7:45 – Hannah bedtime/book

8:00 – Drew bedtime/book

8:15 – Grace bedtime/book

You Must Read This Book

Building the Bonds of Attachment

Building the Bonds of Attachment

I know I say that a lot about books, because I’m reading so many helpful books, but, seriously, this time you MUST read this book if you deal with a kid with RAD! Building the Bonds of Attachment, by Daniel Hughes,  is an easy read, with down-to-Earth language and lots of explanations.

The author created a child (Katie) as a case study of a typical RAD scenario. The story follows Katie from birth through 8 years of age. She was born into a physically abusive and emotionally neglectful family which planted the seeds of RAD. She was removed at age 5 and went through three foster homes before her case worker found a foster family and therapist experienced in RAD who agreed to take her on.

Most of the book focuses on Katie’s time at her final foster home. Included is also many therapy sessions and daily  journal logs of her foster mother.

I really enjoyed this book for many reasons.

First of all, Katie reminds me so much of Ana in some places it is downright scary. Not all the time, mind you, but I think the author created Katie to embody the worst of all RAD kids. This was extremely helpful because the strategies Jackie, the foster mom, used are definitely worth trying for our situation.

Second, strategies were given. Real life situations were described with a variety of strategies offered, some working some not. This is helpful. Too many books work in the theoretical world which really doesn’t apply to RAD kids.

Third, the book laid a sort-of map of where we’ve been and where we (hopefully) are going. This makes me feel not so alone and not so bad as a parent. It reinforced my gut instincts that specialists usually refuse to acknowledge, but challenged me to consider different points of view and new ways of thinking.

All in all, Building the Bonds of Attachment is an excellent read. Might I even say it is one of the holy works of RAD therapy. I hope no one ever has a child quite as severe as Katie, but if they do, this book is a great navigational tool for surviving the long and painful road towards ‘normal’.

December 29 – Christmas break and colds

American's giving some Russian orphans Christmas

American’s giving some Russian orphans Christmas

With Drew gone to daddy’s house Ana has chilled out a bit. She has (obviously) getting more attention with fewer kids in the house and my husband has been home which has also upped the attention. She still has had a couple of minor meltdowns each day about daddy but we’ve been able to talk through them without her resorting to extreme measures like head banging.

She did, however, injure herself once yesterday. We’re not sure how it happened. She was in her room ‘cooling down’ and emerged with a scratch on her cheek. She said she did while hitting her head, but the only furniture in her room (purposefully) is her bed which has no sharp edges. She lies quite a lot (over silly little things) so this may not be the truth behind the scratch.

We all have colds. Yeah. This has kept us locked up indoors for the most part since Christmas day which is not necessarily a bad thing for Ana. She enjoys the home-time with us and it keeps her agitation levels lower. It is harder on me though since I have the normal Ana demands, a sick infant, a sick husband (I’m not sure which one is worse) and a very busy toddler who is not slowed down one iota by a cold. Plus laundry. And cleaning. And cooking. You get the idea.

I did get out to go see Ana’s psychologist (without Ana) and her advice for now is to love on her more when she is getting agitated and not go into details about why she can’t see daddy. This seems to be the only course of action, however, since I’m not sure what is going to happen with the daddy situation.

So, for now, we convalesce, for next week brings surgery for Ana.