Journal Project-"Don't Touch My Heart" : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Dont Touch My Heart by Lynda Gianforte Mansfield and Christopher H. Waldmann, MA,LPC

I decided to read this book when it was mentioned by a local child counselor at one of our first mentoring workshops. This particular counselor told a true story of a child that had attachment disorder and how his foster mother rocked and cuddled him, whenever needed, in order for him to gain trust in his life. It is a fact, that kids today are diagnosed with many disorders, including ADHD, LD, EBD, etc. Research is showing that many of these children could be misdiagnosed and could have what is called attachment disorder.

What is attachment disorder? The first year of life is definitely a year of need. That means when an infant has a need, he/she will initiate attachment behavior to summon a nurturing response from its parent, caregiver, or attachment figure. These gratifying needs will occur hundreds of times during the week and include eye contact, feeding, touch, smiling, talking, etc. In this process, an infant builds trust. Attachment disorder is what happens when an infant does not develop that trust. He/she does not develop the cause/effect thinking. This is what happened to Jonathan in the above book.

Jonathan was taken away from his mother because of neglect, moved from foster home to foster home, and finally placed in a foster home where he was adopted. Jonathans parents had two other children. Jonathan worked very hard to be loving to his parents but always persisted in getting his brother and sister in trouble along with being cruel to the family dog. Jonathan had a lack of conscience and he was destructive to himself and others. Other attachment disorder symptoms shown by Jonathan were: lack of self-control, aggressive and violent, difficulty with trust, and lack of empathy and remorse.

Attachment disorder is intergenerationally transmitted. If this is not diagnosed, these children that lack secure attachments grow up to be those parents who are incapable of establishing the nurturing foundation with their own children. This is not only a problem with those parents who give birth to their own children, but for adoptive parents, this if very crucial.

Statistics indicate that there are 800,000 children with severe attachment disorder in the U.S. today. This number does not include those adopted from other countries. These are children who have emotional and social problems with the inablity to form meaningful relationships, have poor impulse control and certainly have a lack of remorse. Those children that are raised without loving trust and security will have high levels of stress hormones. This means that there is impairment of their body and brains growth and development.

Jonathans parents found that therapy was not a quick fix cure. However, they found that therapy was a place to start for Jonathan. The ultimate goal would be to help any child with attachment disorder bond to the parents and resolve the fear of loving or being loved. I think it is important that we are aware of attachment disorder. I look at some kids right now with better understanding even though Im not sure of the exact environment he/she came from. The reading of this book assists me in a better understanding of where kids might come from. It has really helped when mentoring as well as within the classroom.

-- Anonymous, November 18, 1998

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