First Person: A Journey through RAD

Editor’s Note: This is a submitted story, and the first installation of this article. All names have been changed to protect the family’s identity. If you have questions, comments, or reactions to this series, please post your comments in the sections below. Thank you.

What is happening with my son?

I was at my son’s psychologist appointment, trying not to cry. I had told the psychologist about an alarming incident that happened earlier that week. I informed her I would like my son, Jacob, removed from our home. Earlier that week Jacob told me he would like to kill me, and would do so if he could get away with it. This was our sixth appointment with this psychologist, and the tenth counselor I had taken him to see within the previous two years.

Jacob started seeing his first counselor when he was five. Slightly over one year after the death of his biological mother. This counselor declared that I was too hard on him, and that he was a boy and boys eat when they are hungry. This, despite the fact that he had not eaten over 1000 calories per day in months. After all he was five, and Jacob’s biological mother had died only a year before.

My son’s eating habits never improved, and I was consistently told to stop expecting good behavior from him, he is a boy after all. We saw this first counselor for a year. We stopped going after Jacob put himself in the hospital due to dehydration. We later found out he was trying to commit suicide by not drinking any fluids.

The second counselor we saw, for three appointments, followed the path as the first counselor. The third counselor didn’t waste as much time and concluded he was just “being a boy” at the end of the first appointment. By this time, I had had enough of counselors and stopped taking him to see them. I knew in my gut there was so much more going on than what they were seeing, but felt like I was hitting a counselor “brick wall.” We took nearly a year off from seeing counselors.

During this counseling break, our family decided to spend the summer with our extended family who live many hours away from us. Jacob appeared to enjoy the break. He loved playing with his cousins, and seemed the most “normal” I had ever seen him. I entertained the idea that maybe he would grow out of his weird behavior. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as our family arrived home from our vacation, Jacob stopped eating.

Jacob didn’t eat for three days. He had already been consistently eating under 1,000 calories per day for two years. On the third day, I took Jacob see his new pediatrician. She looked him over, said he was ok, and would eat when he was hungry. I stopped her, and asked her to pull up Jacob’s growth chart. In the past two years Jacob had grown less than an inch and weighed LESS than he did when he was four. She was shocked. After seeing Jacob’s growth chart, the pediatrician sent us home and told me to bring Jacob back every day he didn’t eat. She needed time to find a facility that Tricare would cover and would be able to care for Jacob. We lived in a very small town with limited facilities, so finding a compatible placement might be difficult.

We went back the next day, and the next. Jacob was now at five days and still not eating. I can’t describe the frustration I felt at trying to get Jacob to eat. It seemed no one believed me that he wasn’t eating. They all seemed to think that I wasn’t trying hard enough to get him to eat.

While waiting for the pediatrician to find a facility for Jacob, I took him in for an evaluation at the local mental health clinic. I was told Jacob is suicidal; however, they were not equipped to handle a seven year old who was not eating.

Next time: Answers?

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