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The Toddler, The Terror

So, I have this toddler. He will be 3 next month. And from what I’m told, 3 is a million times worse than 2 – it is, in a sense 2 perfected. Friends, this a thought that sends chills down my spine. Because I gotta tell ya, 2 has basically sucked eggs. Don’t believe me? Just read it for yourself!

Potty Training

This kid does NOT want to stop peeing in his diaper. Like, not at all. Putting my child on the toilet either leads to screaming bloody murder, flushing the toilet 27 times, or giving himself an erection – making it virtually impossible to pee anyhow. In fact, this child arouses himself basically every time his diaper comes unhooked! Now, whereas I try to discourage this behavior without shaming him, part of me wants to scream, “YOU’RE GOING TO YANK IT OFF AND PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THINK I’M A BAD MOTHER!!!!”

But instead, my kid sits there, beaming proudly at his accomplishment of making his weenie big, saying things like, “Mama! I DID it! That’s the biggest butt I ever seen!” (Because we still call our weenie a butt. Obviously, I’m going to have to homeschool my child because we are never going to be ready for kindergarten at this rate. I mean, yesterday I caught him eating a dead fly… come on!)

This week, however, I developed a Paw Patrol sticker chart. Each time he pees on the big boy potty, he gets a sticker on the chart. If he poops, he gets 2 stickers and a parade in his honor. Once each row is filled up with stickers representing his bathroom escapades, he gets candy… and yes, I am bribing my child with copious amounts of sugar. Judge me if you will, but it’s better than constant masturbation in my eyes, so your judgments mean nothing. Just saying.

We’ve had a decent amount of success with the sticker chart, although he gets awfully irrational when I don’t give him a sticker every time someone else in the house uses the restroom. After all, this isn’t a joint effort here! It’s certainly not worth the tantrums that ensue. Speaking of which…

Tantrums

Last week I missed half of my grandmother’s funeral because I had to remove my screaming/hitting/kicking son from the funeral home and literally drag him outside to the back of the building (using emergency exits that thankfully didn’t sound any alarms when I opened them). There I sat on the damp concrete in my black dress, showing all kinds of granny panty, as my kid threw rocks and screamed at the top of his lungs every time I looked in his direction. I wept like the worn-out mother that I am, silently cursing the child that I GAVE BIRTH TO and his erratic behavior that came from me. My other kids that I adopted? I don’t have to take ownership for their issues… but this kid is all mine from the DNA to the horrid behavior.

I felt like a failure for the billionth time that day.

Especially when the casket delivery man arrived and informed me that our hysterics were blocking his path to the storage room. I looked at him with racoon-smeared eyes and picked up my flailing child, trying to walk to a new location as my high heel broke underneath the weight of the two of us.

Later that day I threw my shoes away.  We repeated our tantrums and disciplines again and again for days and days – in restaurants, at the funeral luncheon, in the car, and in the house. I’m learning to view this new routine my son and I are in like I would a wild horse. We are constantly trying to break the stallion’s crazed spirit so that he can become an animal capable of fitting in with the rest of the tamed herd that is society.

It’s just not working. Yet. Which leads me to the horribleness that is the final toddler topic for today’s post…

Nap Inconsistencies

As if dealing with the little maniac all day isn’t hard enough, my child is starting to break free of his previously consistent nap schedule. THIS, my friends, may be the death of me. Because after hours of cycling this boy on and off the potty, correcting tantrums, and cleaning up the giant-sized toddler messes that he leaves in his wake, this mama is READY for naptime! That was the deal. He can act like a colossal turd for some of the day if he must, but that means I get a couple hours of reprieve in the afternoon. But now, my son is struggling to hold up his end of the bargain and I find myself crying hysterically by dinner time.

My older kids are so frightened of my hazzardness that they don’t question me when I pack lunches that consist of 3 jellos and a peanut butterless PB&J sandwich. They see the crazy unfolding before their very eyes and I believe they pity me. But if we’re looking for silver linings, they have both informed me within the last week that they will never have sex because they are scared of having children.

So there’s a parenting win.

But seriously, this child is making my brain homicidal. I mean, I am walking around like a full-fledged Lewis Black impersonator all day long, grunting out strings of nonsensical words with barely a breath to speak them.

And then, minutes later, this same kid comes up to me and tells me he loves me so much. And then we load up his dump trucks with all his farm animals and pretend to take them to the jungle… until his toy crocodile comes along and destroys all the animals and fake-chomps the truck to bits. And for some reason, this makes my son very happy and cuddly. So, we sit and hunker down in a good snuggle amidst the carnage that was his plastic livestock.

In the moment, these day to day things feel so stinking insurmountable. This stage feels like it will last forever. And I know in my heart of hearts that it won’t. But if you say that to me, I’m liable to bite your head off, cry, and then apologize (you’ve been forewarned). I know deep down that my children will all grow up and be somewhat functional in society, hopefully potty-trained, and I will no longer have the need to make crocodile sounds.

I’m told this will be a sad day. We’ll see. Either way, this moment will pass. In the meantime, I will continue to talk my brain off the ledge of insanity each day, being as consistent as possible, and attempt to be more mindful while packing lunches for the big ones. Sometimes Hope means believing that one day, life may just be boring.

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It's a Book Launch!

     So, this week has FINALLY arrived! And I want to cordially invite all of you to the launch and first signing of my new book, The Children Who Raised Me. (Insert all manner of joyous sounds here!) Come and join me for some light refreshments, a brief reading, and time to chat with the author! I will be signing books as well and will have a limited number for purchase if you haven't already bought yours (books are $20). This is a family friendly event, so feel free to bring your friends, family, and random people from the street (as long as they agree - no abductions, please).

WHEN:  Saturday, April 8th, 2017 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm

WHERE: The 1st Baptist Church of Ellwood City (220 Fountain Ave. Ellwood City, PA 16117)

     Additionally, if you're interested in having me come speak at your church, agency, school, or group - contact me HERE to schedule! I love to share information on Adoption, Foster Care, Mental Health, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and ways to improve our Child Welfare Systems.

     See you all Saturday!!!

     XOXO,

     Shivonne

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Our Children Are Dying, And No One Will Help

It seems that Children and Youth Services of Pennsylvania have been under severe scrutiny as of late. Over the years, countless news articles have been done depicting uninvestigated child abuse, fatalities of children, and the lack of response to child lines being made. Sadly, Beaver county CYS has been facing the most recent allegations of nonchalance when it comes to the safety of local children.

Just one month ago, WTAE Pittsburgh Action News conducted a special investigation into several local CYS agencies, one of which was Beaver county. The report showed that had CYS responded to child lines that were conducted, several children in the county would still be alive to this day. And whereas the other agencies sent spokesmen to make a statement, Beaver county refused to reply to the story.

The CYS Bench book, which is the reigning guidelines to be followed by each employee of the agency, states this on page 11: “All children have the right: to be happy, thriving, self-actualized, educated, healthy, and content; to have the opportunity to reach their full potential as individuals capable of healthy relationships and productive lives; and to have a fair chance in life with opportunities for healthy, balanced, and well-rounded development.”

If this is the case, then why is CYS ignoring reports made from doctors, police, therapists, teachers, guidance counselors, eye witnesses, and the children themselves? If all children have the right to safety, then why are these children dying? Why are they allowed to remain in homes where they fear daily for their safety? Where they watch domestic violence and are exposed to drug deals, prostitution, and gross negligence?

And just as important, why are the higher powers turning a blind eye?

STATS from the PA Child Protective Services Annual Report of 2015 (which is the most recent) and the PA Partnerships Annual Report of 2015:

·         In 2015, only 10.4% of abuses reported in PA were substantiated by CYS (meaning they were looked into and abuse or neglect was proven).

·         Out of the 10.4% substantiated, 2.2% of those ended in fatality (34 cases) or near fatality (58 cases).

·         Of the 34 cases that ended in fatality, 58% of those families already had CYS involvement or the case had been closed “successfully”.

·         Of the 58 cases that ended in near fatality, 55% percent of these children had CYS involvement or the case had already been closed “successfully”.

·         Of the fatalities in PA, 27% of the children had been removed from foster care and given back to biological parents. Of near fatalities, 19% of children had been reunified with parents and removed from foster care.

·         1 fatality occurred in Beaver county in 2015 – the family was known to CYS through multiple abuse reports. This mother had threatened the week prior to murder her children and then herself. Her children were not removed from her care until the 2-month old was killed.

·         1 near fatality (19-month-old that now has traumatic brain injury) also occurred in Beaver county – No charges have been filed and no parenting or anger management classes were completed.

·         Out of the 40,590 reports of abuse and neglect, 35,313 (87%) were made by mandated reporters – people trained in the symptoms of abuse and neglect; people that are mandated to report their sightings; therapists, foster parents, drug and alcohol counselors, psychiatrists, law enforcement, etc. And yet only 10% were deemed actual abuse by CYS caseworkers (an occupation with a turn-over rate of an average of 2-years, many straight from college and in any field of study).

·         In 2015, PA law enforcers reported 12,608 crimes against children where the adults didn’t qualify as a “perpetrator” to CYS. All of these crimes were then forwarded to the District Attorney’s office instead of CYS and the children remained in their homes.

·         In 2015 - 181,371 children received in-home services provided through CYS.

·         In 2015 – 22,980 children entered foster care or remained in foster care from the previous year.

·         In 2015 – 2,544 children re-entered foster care after having already been reunited with a parent previously during their lifetime.

·         In 2015 – 24.1% (a quarter) of all biological family reunifications failed.

Not in the CPS Report:

·         According to the Beaver Falls police department, so far multiple young children have died in Beaver County at the hands of their parents – no charges have been filed, CYS was aware of complaints made against the families, and the siblings of the deceased children remain in these homes. The police department also stated that CYS is not sending all of the child lines to them, as stated in the protocol. And according to the Franklin Twp. Police department in Beaver County, if they get the reports at all, they are multiple weeks after the date of the report, and they have already been cast aside by CYS.

·         After a conversation in 2016 with a CYS caseworker, I was informed that if a guardian is a “functioning addict” and “there are no broken bones”, there is no way that CYS will step in and assist the children.

·         Even as recent as this week, after well over a dozen reports from professionals AND the children themselves made to CYS regarding a particular case of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, neglect, drug abuse, and drug dealing – CYS talked to the suspected abuser about those involved in making the child lines and asked if the guardian would agree to a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation. When the father vehemently refused, CYS said that they couldn’t mandate it. And then they left the children in the home.

Following the Money:

·         In 2015, the state of PA received $344 million dollars in federal funds for child welfare, $1.036 billion dollars from the state, and $388 dollars from their local funds (on average) – totaling $1.769 billion dollars statewide for child welfare purposes.

·         Of that total, $43.5 million dollars were used for investigating child abuse. That left $1.726 billion dollars for salaries, trainings, and child abuse clearances.

·         Of that $43.5 million, $2.3 million was used for Beaver, Butler, and Lawrence county investigations of abuse and neglect.

·         If the average county has 50 caseworkers (what I was informed was the average number) that average $35,000 per year (what I was told was the average pay) in all 67 counties, that would add up to $117,250,000 dollars.

·         Child abuse clearance costs totaled $6.017 million for the state of PA in 2015.

·         MAXIMUM foster care subsidies given out in 2015 was $138 million dollars.

·         The state’s total amount of estimated caseworker salaries, child abuse investigations, foster care subsidies, and child abuse clearances equals $304,767,000.

·         Minus that from the $1.769 billion dollars given to PA for child welfare and you have a remaining balance of $1.464 billion dollars – WHERE IS IT GOING? (I realize that the state is paying for caseworkers to go to college, facilities and their utilities, trainings, etc. But obviously the actual functions of the agency are being used so sparingly in comparison the $1.5 billion used elsewhere.)

·         According to the State of PA’s government salary reports, The Beaver County Director of CYS made $104,000 in 2014 while she complained that they were understaffed. This amount is more than double that of what any of the surrounding county CYS directors made in the same year or since.)

·         According to two previous CYS caseworker in the local counties, both were told on multiple occasions NOT to remove children until the end of the fiscal year… if they remove more or less than the allotted amount, the county would get less funding for the following year.

·         According to a current CYS caseworker, she has been forced to close out cases that still needed child welfare assistance because the case could currently be closed “successfully”, whereas if they waited another month, the family could “blow up” and throw off their numbers of successful reunifications.

It’s important to note that these are just the reports for BEAVER COUNTY. Children are dying and being severely abused in all of our surrounding counties, including Lawrence County. Also in this county are caseworkers who are committing fraud - writing up reports about visiting children in their biological or foster homes monthly, even though they haven’t been to the home in a year or more. And when these are reported to the supervisors, nothing is done. In fact, foster parents are threatened to never receive future foster children, be banned from all potential adoptions, and even told that their current children can be taken from them if they continue to advocate “too much” for the foster children in their care.

Due to this statewide abuse of power in the system, there is a yearly drop in quality foster families. Good people who provide love, support, and safety for these children in need are being forced out of the system due to the horrific treatment by the agencies sworn to help these very kids. And when the counties can say “we would help more children if we had any foster homes to put them in!”, we know the truth. If it weren’t for CYS supervisors, County Commissioners, District Attorneys, and crooked police focusing so much on lining their own pockets and following their own political agendas, we may have more people willing to step up to the plate for these dying children.

And until that happens, we will continue to live in a society where money, power, and corruption trump the lives and well-being of the very children that we see in our schools, our parks, and our streets. Because when it comes right down to it, our local counties have decided that some children are only SOME children have the right: to be happy, thriving, self-actualized, educated, healthy, and content; to have the opportunity to reach their full potential as individuals capable of healthy relationships and productive lives; and to have a fair chance in life with opportunities for healthy, balanced, and well-rounded development.

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A Guide to "The Children Who Raised Me"

I am humbled, excited, overwhelmed, and just plain giddy – my first book is finally complete and has been released for purchase through Austin Brothers Publishing! This journey has been freakishly long with its fair share of mountains and valleys… but in the end, I think the timing has been perfectly God-ordained.

Just in the past few days, I’ve had numerous questions asked of me that I thought would be good to address here, in a blog post. It feels almost like an online interview where I get to answer your own questions for everyone else to benefit from – except that I get time to think about each answer without getting nervous, which is my personal favorite way to do things! So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Q: Is your book going to be available in stores or just online?

A: My book is currently released on my new publisher’s website (Austin Brothers Publishing) based out of Texas. In just a short time, the book will also be loaded onto Amazon.com, and it will be added to the Ingram Catalog, which is the largest book catalog in the country. This will allow my book to be ordered at churches, bookstores, schools, coffee shops, etc. Depending on which stores pick up my book will depend on if it will be available locally or just remain online or in catalogs.

Q: Will there be an e-book and a hardcover edition available?

A: There WILL be an e-book available by next week, actually! The price for the e-book should be around $7 and will appear on my publisher’s website. Additionally, it will be available for purchase on ITunes, Amazon, Smashwords, and all the other major electronic reading applications. As far as a hardcover addition, this will depend on how well the book sells. There is quite a hefty expense that comes along with formatting the book into a hardcover, so if a need appears to be great enough for it, I will consider that down the road!

Q: Why did you choose to use your children’s real names in the book?

A: This was a topic that I thought long and hard about. In the end, it came down to the fact that my children’s names are on my Facebook page and on my website – all of which is public domain. To change their names in the book would basically be moot and probably confusing to those who have followed along with the blog. I don’t want anyone assuming that I went out and got an entirely new slew of children running around! That would get me committed for sure!

Q: How did you choose to develop your book into the format you did with each kid having their own section instead of the traditional chapters we normally see in books?

A: Well, when I first started the book, I figured I’d go chronologically and with normal chapters that would generally appear in a memoir. However, it read very heavy – the events that occurred in our lives had great periods of time in which there was an awful lot of darkness with not a whole lot of light. So when I decided to break the book up by child, all of a sudden the reader was able to start over in the story and take a break from the gloom, see certain incidents that were specific to each child, and get more breaks with humor and joy in the midst of the heaviness. All in all, I wanted the book to feel like a meal, filled with light courses, entrees, pallet cleansers, and dessert! In the end, I wanted the reader to feel full and complete, which is what I hope I accomplished!

Q: How did you decide what personal information to keep in versus edit out?

A: This was another very tricky element in writing a memoir. There are so many factors that go into telling a story with as much accuracy as possible without over-sharing someone else’s tale. I approached each section through my eyes only, because that would be the only way to keep it accurate to what I had experienced. I am not capable of making assumptions of anyone else’s feelings or thoughts, just my own perceptions of things. And as with all personal information, I tried to tell the readers as much as I could about my own perplexing feelings and struggles. In that, I wanted to be as open and as free as my heart would allow. But when it came to the rest of my family and others involved in our story, I tried to edit out just the facts – things that I was given from CYS, agency workers, doctors, and my family members themselves.

Even so, I took the time to have my family read the book. I wanted as many editing eyes on the emotional stuff as possible. This included my older two children. Whereas I didn’t let them read the entire book (simply because it’s far too heavy for their young minds), I did read them many of the details of their own sections in the book. I allowed them the opportunity to say yes or no to certain events. If they felt even slightly uncomfortable with parts, I edited them or removed them altogether. My oldest, Cameron, asked why I talked about their behaviors so much. I explained that this was so other parents could have a better understanding of the struggles their own children face. With that simple answer, my kids gave me their blessing to tell all the goofy things they do, just so that it will help you all!

Q: How did you come up with the title, I really like it!

A: Why, thank you! I like it, too! But I cannot take credit for the title. That was all God! I was sleeping one night after a ridiculously long day of editing, and I sat straight up in bed as if I’d been awakened by a fire alarm. The only thing running through my head was the title God wanted me to use: The Children Who Raised Me. From that moment on, my editing became smooth and the book began to flow in a new direction, pointing to a main aspect that I wanted to come from this - that in a family, we are ALL a part of shaping one another. Each of us has a purpose and a place, and the adults are learning right along with the Littles. As we bring all of our broken parts to the table, we are able to use them to create a whole unit, one that looks and functions differently than any other. Again, I cannot speak to how my children feel or think, but I can attest to the fact that my children, all four of them, (and my husband) have had a significant role in raising me to become the woman God needs me to be.

Q: Who is your target audience for this book?

A: Well, the book has a great deal of content in it, so it can be used to reach a great deal of people. When I first started out, I wanted the book to be used for other parents raising children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Then, I realized that parents raising any special needs child may find what we’ve gone through as beneficial. And then I thought that families looking to foster or adopt may really want to see what often doesn’t get shared by caseworkers as they try to get children placed in homes – the dirty, raw parts of parenting someone else’s children. And THEN I found out that schools and mental health agencies were interested in the book to use as a training tool for their employees, helping them understand the complexities of attachment disorders and how to manage them differently than other disorders.

Overall, this book is for any parent, guardian, or adult that is working with children – it’s for the person who's lost a child and feels like they’ve been told that “it’s time to move on”, even though they’re not ready yet. It's for the parents struggling with infertility and weighing all the options through the emotional lenses they are wearing. It’s for the marriage that is hanging on by a thread under the weight of all that family entails. It’s for the professionals who want to do more but are bound by the legalities and insufficiencies of a broken child welfare and judicial system. This book, The Children Who Raised Me, is for anyone who is looking for Hope and needs to know that they’re not alone in their search.

Q: Are you available for speaking engagements? If so, what are the topics that you cover and your fee?

A: I AM available for speaking engagements! Despite having a tummy that HATES public speaking, the rest of me actually quite enjoys it. I have spoken at churches, schools, mental health agencies, and adoption groups so far – depending on where I speak and what they’re interested in learning, I can share about trauma issues and how it effects children and attachment, RAD, parenting, adoption and foster care issues that need to be changed in our child welfare agency, how churches and organizations can best rise up to help adoptive and foster parents… and I can even lead worship if you’re interested 😊.

But as far as a fee, I do not have a set amount. Because so many churches or groups are small, I would ask for a love offering of whatever is doable for that particular group. If I speak at an agency, I would just ask for a comparable guest speaker amount, that’s all. My goal is to bless, encourage, educate, and love on those who need it. That’s not something I am able to put a price on, and I never want to be out of anyone’s reach… trust me, I don’t think of myself highly enough for such things! But I do ask that my expenses be covered so that I can continue on in what I feel God’s leading me to do!

If you’re interested in booking me for a speaking engagement, you can email me through my Contact’s Page on the website.

Q: Are you planning on writing a second book?

A: YES! I absolutely love writing and will do it until my dying day – when a book will be coming out is still up in the air, especially since this one has taken up so much of my efforts! But definitely look for one in the future.

Q: How can I get my book signed by you?

A: This question is cracking me up! You guys, my handwriting is not really all that exciting, but apparently this is a big deal because this is the question I was asked the most! So, for those of you who really want to see my name on the inside of your book cover, then watch my MommyhoodSFS Facebook page and my website for upcoming book signings. If I’m not going to be in your area and you want to set up an engagement for me, you feel free!! Otherwise, we can find a way for you to mail me your book to be signed. Again… cracking me up right now!

 

Okay, I hope this has been helpful for everyone! In addition to the book, don’t forget that I have an online membership program that is helpful to professionals and guardians in dealing with children with special needs, attachment issues, and mental health diagnoses. Check it out on the site for further info!

Love to you all and thank you, once again, for all the support you’ve shown. I am so blessed to meet so many beautiful people through such a painful topic – God really does know how to make beauty from ashes.

Hugs and Hope,

Shivonne

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"Attachment Disorders" - A Call for Clarification

Lately there’s been lots of talk about Attachment Disorders. I, personally, have been contacted by multiple people, both in the field of psychology and laypersons, telling me that my discussions of RAD are inaccurate or outdated. Others have even said that these disorders dealing with attachment don’t even exist. Actually, I appreciate this feedback greatly, because if there is new research being done, then you better believe I want in on it! I have two children suffering from mental illness and would love nothing more than to find new solutions to this problem.

However, some are under the belief that the phrase “Attachment Disorder” is faulty because Attachment Disorder is not in the DSM-V. Now, you and I may differ in the way we word things, but if a person comes to me and says they have “depression”, I immediately understand some of the basic symptoms they’re referring to. I would gather more information by asking if they have MDD, Bipolar, the frequency and length of the symptoms, etc. But because there are so many diagnoses that deal with depression, I don’t immediately jump all over that person for telling me they have a diagnosis that doesn’t exist… I understand that they are using a general term to express their symptoms.

That being said, when someone speaks to me about Attachment Disorders, I understand that they are speaking of a general group of diagnoses having to do with attachment issues, not claiming that Attachment Disorders is in the DSM. A major difference from the DSM-IV to the DSM-V is the separation or Reactive Attachment Disorder: disinhibited type and Reactive Attachment Disorder: inhibited type. RAD is now strictly referred to in its previous inhibited form, meaning that a child “is diagnosed when a his/her social relations are inhibited and, as a result, he/she fails to engage in social interactions in a manner appropriate to his/her developmental age. The child may exercise avoidance, hyper-vigilance or resistance to social contact. The child may also avoid social reciprocity, fail to seek comfort when upset, become overly attached to one adult, and refuse to acknowledge a caregiver. Links have been shown between RAD and future behavioral and relationship problems.” (APA 2013)

On the flip side of attachment is Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED). This is what was previously known as RAD: disinhibited type. This means that there “is the absence of normal fear or discretion when approaching strangers. The child is unusually comfortable talking to, touching, and leaving a location with an adult stranger. These behaviors are not the result of attention problems or other issues that might be associated with impulsive behavior.” (APA 2013)

And yet, in that same DSM that is quoted above, very few behaviors are listed. It goes on to talk about causes and criteria for the diagnoses, but there is very little listed by way of symptoms. So, does this mean that children who struggle with attachments have no behavioral issues?

Of course not. What that tells me is that the American Psychological Association doesn’t want to write the Encyclopedia Britannica as the DSM – they would rather the book be used to help doctors diagnose, not list every symptom that could be possible for every case ever. They are very wise.

Therefore, when looking at “Attachment Disorders” (I can feel the emails coming in as I write that!), we look at the causes of RAD and DSED and other trauma-related disorders. We recognize that neglect, abuse, institutionalization, and multiple changes in care givers create the issues of attachment. And for some of those children, they struggle to accept affection or are unable to be consoled (RAD) whereas others willingly talk to strangers, are clingy, and require ALL of the physical attention they can get (DSED). In both of these cases, children can fall on a spectrum ranging from mild to severe.

And what determines where a child falls on that spectrum? The behavioral symptoms associated with the causes of the disorder. That means that these children who have faced horrible atrocities or never had their needs met as wee little ones will display behaviors associated with the traumas that they experienced. We don’t need the DSM-5 to tell us that these children may steal, lie, manipulate, or become aggressive. Because we already know that children who have gone through these life experiences will respond to people and daily circumstances in a way that protects them from the world and gets their needs met, since they couldn’t always depend on the adults in their lives to do that for them (hence the lying, stealing, aggression, and manipulation).

Look, my goal is not to argue semantics. There is new research coming out constantly, new studies being done regarding children with early childhood trauma and how it effects their attachments to others. Some face mild symptoms whereas others face severe ones. But to say that the diagnoses don’t exist or that these symptoms are not listed in the DSM-5 and can’t possibly be attributed to children with attachment disorders – well, this undermines all the parents, doctors, therapists, and children who are daily living it.

These issues are not a quick fix. There is no pill or specific therapy that will treat each child and cure each symptom. And as a child ages, these symptoms may change, as will their treatment. But what we can say for a fact? Consistency, unconditional positive regard, and structure are the best tools to combat a terrible set of diagnoses. So, whatever you choose to call it, whatever label you prefer, remember that there are people out there working on ways to best heal their children – and your labels and criticisms are not required. Jump in and help, by all means – we need it! But please leave the judgments at the door.

Blessings to you and thank you for all the research, resources, and love you provide to a population of hurting children!

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