Reimagining Success as a RAD Parent #NAVRAD22

I’m in Atlanta at the Navigating RAD 22 conference with RAD Advocates this weekend. For those of you who couldn’t make it, this is your place for the highlights from the amazing speakers!

Reimagining Success as a RAD Parent

Keri Williams, author and advocate

Highlights & Take Aways

  • Success begins with getting everyone’s head above water. Depending on your situation and child, this alone may be all you can do.
  • With RAD kids you’re not going to be successful if your goal is to help them live up to their potential. The disorder is too dysregulating for our kids to tap into their gifts and talents right now. And given the control symptomology of RAD, they probably don’t want to live up to their potential right now.
  • Goals as a RAD parent must encompass the whole family, not just child with RAD.
  • In the day-to-day, we need to ask ourselves, “Is this something I’m willing to sacrifice my other kids for?” Remember, consequences and rewards don’t work for RAD kids on the moderate and severe end of the spectrum.
  • For most kids with RAD, the best way forward is to keep them in school. If they sweet talk the principal out of a suspension, let it go. That suspension wouldn’t teach them anything and would only be a punishment for the rest of the family.
  • Kids with RAD aren’t going to learn from failing classes or being retained. That’s only going to make them less likely to be independent and out of your house at 18. It may feel incredibly unjust, but let the school promote them through if they will.
  • Get an IEP with a behavioral plan so your child can have modifications and legal protections against suspensions and expulsions.
  • If your goal is to keep your child in RTF, you do not want to be a “problem parent.” If you are, they’ll likely find a way to discharge your child or be suspicious of you and raise the risk of them reporting you to CPS.
  • Having felony charges will be a major barrier to your child ever being independent (felonies lead to lifelong issues with housing, employment, public assistance – all of which our kids on the severe end of the spectrum will almost certainly need). Carefully consider if pressing charges makes sense.
  • The traditional parenting goal of helping our kids live up to their potential doesn’t apply – the disorder is too dysregulating for our kids to tap into their gifts and talents and they probably don’t want to live up to their potential right now.
  • Especially if they are violent, having them view you as the enemy can literally put you and your other children in danger. Find ways to pull back and build good will with your child.

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Keri Williams, author and advocate

Keri Williams is a foster and adoptive parent who has spent over a decade navigating the mental health system on behalf of her children. She advocates for reforms in the mental health system to better serve our society’s vulnerable children and the families who care for them. She’s a passionate supporter of adoption when adoptive parents are informed and supported. Keri is the author of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): The Essential Guide for Parents and But, He Spit in my Coffee: A reads-like-fiction memoir about adopting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder(RAD). She holds the IndieReader Best First Book award for her memoir. Keri lives in North Carolina and has five children including two who are adopted out of foster care.

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