Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Photo-Link: A Vital Keepsake/Tool for a RAD Child (or Any Foster Child.)

By John and Diane

With the advent of digital photography, we all take a lot more photos...but how many actually get printed?

Not so important to most of us. Really, we post our faces on social media, we email pics to relatives who save them to a hard drive or turn them into a screen saver.
Photos that document events, big and small, are vitally important to the development and foundation for a child with an attachment disorder or reactive attachment disorder (referred to both as RAD in this article from now on.)

Photos that show any of my foster kids enjoying family events, achievement awards, holidays and any Firsts are always printed out and placed in a photo album for each child I have in my home.The importance of the photo album goes beyond just a keepsake of childhood memories.  For kids who may have a childhood that is scattered over many homes, many "families" and much sadness, a photo album that they can add to,  provides a timeline of happy memories to share as they later raise their own families.

For RAD kids, I cannot stress enough how important a photo album is.  Not only for the purpose of documenting their lives as is a normal part of most modern cultures, but as a TOOL.

A RAD child's photo album is an effective tool to use because:

*  It gives you a reference to go to when you need to PROVE that you have provided certain good things to the child. (Those carrots we've talked about in the past...)  For example, the child refuses to do anything for you, or says that you do nothing for him or her.  You go to the photo album and show him photos of family parties, vacation, trips to the roller rink, he with a new toy for a holiday...etc.  RAD kids NEED constant Proof, and a photo album is a great way to REMIND them that you do things for them.

* They need to be able to view the photos (documentation, per se) of themselves and other family members having fun together and enjoying each others company.  Without evidence of happy times together, the child will forget they love you.    This is especially important for families who are separated from their RAD child for a while - maintain the connection you have begun to build via a photo album.

* Refer to the album when the child is in a "funk" to remind them that they do enjoy their family, brothers and sisters in the house etc.  They need to see concrete evidence of things, so that they can come to their own conclusions about whether or not they were happy etc.

*Observe how the child uses the album. I am so happy when I see some of my longer -term kids show off their photo albums to new foster children. Not only does it allow me to see how that child is doing in my home, but if the child does have RAD, I can get a sense of their building attachment, or lack there-of. (Do they show any interest in the album, are they connected to the images there? )

It really doesn't take much to put an album together. It doesn't have to be fancy, and it can start today. The kids love putting new photos in their albums, adding stickers, or writing in them. I am sure many of you have a lot of other great ideas along these lines.  Please share them here in the comments section.

(suggested reading:
You and Your RAD Kid: The Importance of the Trust-Building- Honeymoon Period )

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