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Signs of RAD in infancy
RAD occurs when an infant does not form a trusting relationship with a primary care giver for whatever reason. This may be because of drug use in parents, abuse or neglect, severe illness, multiple care givers, or adoption. If a baby has any of these things in their history, it would be wise to evaluate whether or not he or she could have RAD. Early intervention might make a huge difference.
Here are some signs of RAD in infancy:
Little or no eye contact
Resists being held and cuddled
Doesn't hold on when being held (no reciprocation)
Doesn't follow parent with his eyes
Hard to soothe
Self comforting (compulsive thumb or finger sucking, rocking, etc.)
Lack of smiling or "talking back" in baby noises
Prefers crib or playpen to being held
Stiffens when held
Cries all the time, or hardly at all
Prefers to be held with back to mother, or faces away
Cries with great rage
Reaches out to strangers rather than parents
Prefers Dad to Mom
Gets in and out of parents' lap frequently
Unresponsive to pain (high pain tolerance)
Very little imitative behavior
Excessive independence, or dependence
Difficulty in potty training
If many of these symptoms are present and there are one or more indicating factors in the infant's background, RAD is a likely diagnosis.
If I had known about RAD when I adopted my daughter at age one and a half, I would have done some things differently in those first few months that we had her. I would have held her more, although I did make a great effort to hold and coddle her, even feeding her with a bottle to try to make her feel loved and cared for. I would have made a greater effort to respond to her fussiness with physical affection and comforting, I would not have allowed her to be passed about from person to person at church or other places. I would have done all possible to enhance a good bonding experience from the start.
Would it have made a difference? I don't know. But knowing that she was not normal might have stopped me from trying to make her so. Maybe it would have lessened the symptoms. Maybe it would only have eased my own conscience.
My advice to anyone with a baby with these symptoms is to go to an expert or professional and get advice right away, and get help for yourself. Raising a child with RAD is extremely stressful and hard on a marriage as well.
See also: Introduction to RAD
Here are some helpful sites: