Thanks for your post HH.
You are quite right in that RAD and autism have incredibly similar symptoms and I am sure that some children with RAD have been diagnosed as autistic. My understanding though (and I am sure you will correct me if I am wrong- and please do!) is that although the exact cause of autism has not been verified, the consensus is that the functioning of the brain is not affected by parenting but, is rather a pre-existing condition or can it be triggered by a virus (?)
In the case of RAD, the child's brain function has been affected by poor or inconsistent parenting coupled with neglect, physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse usually within the first three years of life. A very simplistic description would be that because the child has not had his or her needs consistently met and has had to cope with life or death situations in early life, he or she is in a constant state of fight or flight which never gets soothed adequately. This constant release of stress hormone (cortisol) floods the brain at the very time it (the brain) does most of its development.
This can mean (but, doesn't always if help is obtained quickly enough) that as the child gets older he or she lives in a constant elevated state of fear, even of everyday things and self soothing is not possible because it was not learned in early life. This can lead to an inablility to control impulses, difficulty with peer relationships, lack of eye contact,lack of ability to give/accept affection, violence, vandalism, t h e f t, cruelty, self harm, l y in g, and incredible rages. I know that some of these symptoms resonate with parents who have autistic children - it is just the cause which is different I think.
My question was really to establish why no-one has set up an independent help group when so many adoption breakdowns are occurring because of this disorder. Children are going back into the care system because their adopters cannot cope with the associated extreme behaviour and they need somewhere to go outside social services for support. As we are soon going to take a break from fostering I am looking into the viability of a UK site because it would seem that there isn't one at the moment.
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