Before proceeding, I’m issuing this warning: I’m composing this on my iPhone, in the car, on the way to the beach, with a bored child behind me & a sports talk radio listening husband next to me. I prefer typing on a computer in the silence late at night. This post will be FULL of grammatical errors & misspellings. I’m sorry!
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I would answer some of the most common questions I get being a mother of a child with mental illness.
1. If RAD is caused by neglect, can’t you just love it Away? While I genuinely understand the thought behind this question, I really hate this one. It makes me feel as though the asker doesn’t think I haven’t given Q enough love which is far from the truth. The honest answer is no. RAD is caused by neglect causing the brain to develop differently. Honestly, Q will always have RAD. He will learn how to manage/handle it as he matures but it will never 100% go away.
2. Why do you ignore some of his bad behaviors? I parent Q a lot differently then I had planned on parenting my child, had they been “typical”. I pick my battles with Q very strategically. What you may think is “bad behavior” may be a huge win for us. For example, if Q expresses his anger by ripping up a piece of paper, you may wonder why I don’t get on to him for ripping up the paper whereas I see a huge win because he expressed his anger without hurting himself or someone else.
3. Q looks normal. Not really a question but a comment I get on the regular. I really hate this one too. Would you be more satisfied that Q was “different” if he looked “different” too? It goes back to that kindergarten saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Q looks much older than he is. Which is actually a downfall for him because people instantly expect more out of him. This was a huge issue when he was 4, looked 6, and talked/behaved like a 2 year old. When he has a moment in Target, people automatically think “he is too old to be acting like that” when in reality he is a 6 year old boy who is still learning how to properly express himself.
4. How do you do it? I assume “it” is being a mother to a special needs child. Honestly “it” wasn’t in my life plans but God had a better version. I just do what I have to do. I honestly think I’ve done what most moms in my situation would do. Advocate for your child, get them any and all help you can, and love them unconditionally. To be honest, on the hard days, I wonder how I am going to do “it” another day. Then the next day comes and I’m right back at it, because that’s motherhood.
5. What is wrong with him? My initial (read: bitchy) response is: “Nothing is wrong with him, he’s perfect the way God made him.” But, I know what people are really asking and they’re really asking for his specific diagnoses. Quin has RAD & ADHD. PTSD & ODD have been tossed around but not a formal diagnosis. He originally was diagnosed as autistic, by the first dr we saw almost 4 years ago. However, as he developed, and got second (and third) opinions, that diagnosis has been replaced with RAD and ADHD.
6. If you knew about his issues before adopting him, would you have still done it? Honestly, yes. But I had I known beforehand, I would have properly educated myself on RAD because entering the RAD world unprepared was HARDDDDD! I look at it like this: having a child biologically doesn’t automatically guarantee a “perfect” child and my biological child could have issues similar to Q so just because we adopted him doesn’t mean I should just give up on him because he isn’t “perfect”.
7. Can’t you just give him medicine? Ha! I wish a magic pill existed but it doesn’t. We’ve tried several medications, with no real help. We’ve tried changing Q’s diet, we’ve done the therapy. We have, and continue to, explore any and all options we come across for Q. Honestly, I think Q will get better as he matures and learns the right way to handle his feelings. Right now, his feelings rule. Our goal is for him to manage his emotions and correctly express himself.
8. Isn’t it embarrassing when he acts up in public? Uhm, yeah! Every momma gets embarrassed when her child does something ridiculous in the middle of aisle 9. I will say, as time as gone on, my tolerance has gotten higher and it takes a lot more for me to get embarrassed now. Most of the time, I’m so focused on getting Q back to a good place, I can’t worry about onlookers.
I think that about covers it. I’m an open book, so if you have any further questions, feel free to comment with them!