Gap Academy
4 John Street, Toronto, Ontario   M9N 1J3   416  249-1500   
An innovative approach to teaching pre-teens and adolescents with  learning disabilities.
Gap Articles
"Welcome to the wonderful world of Gap, where things really change."
"I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."   Robert Frost
"You are here to
enable the world to
live more amply, with
greater vision, and
with a finer spirit of
hope and
achievement.  You are
here to enrich the
Woodrow Wilson
Reactive Attachment Disorder, Adoptee Trauma,
or  Abandonment Trauma

Many adopted teenagers end up in schools like ours because of their behaviours.  When adoption is in the equation, we
always consider the possibility of RAD.  However, we do not use the acronym RAD or the term Reactive Attachment
Disorder at school.  Instead we use the terms adoptee trauma or abandonment trauma, which we believe more
accurately describe the problem.  Many modern and informed psychologists now believe that the behaviours emanating
from teens who have been abandoned and subsequently adopted are reflective of their response to trauma, rather than
being truly behavioural in nature.  If there is any indication at all that one of our students has RAD (or adoptee trauma),
we use completely different methods to remove the obstacles to their education.  We rarely use behavioural methods,
and then only at the end of their time at our school.   

Instead, we use a collection of methods designed to break down their rejection-oriented impulses.  We actually teach a
mini-course in the effects of trauma and re-visit this information as the student strategies to resolve the behaviours,
regardless of whether the behaviours are withdrawal oriented or aggressive progresses through learning about their
learning profile and their obstacles to learning.  We also believe in teaching the student directly about their problem,
which in this case, translates into the teaching of a mini-course on the effects of trauma.   We then re-visit this
information as the student progresses through the program and requires further confirmation and processing.  

Symptoms of Adoptee Trauma

Most of the more serious symptoms are related to connectedness, basic distrust, and emotional and/or sensory
disintegration of children separated from their biological families.  Many psychologists now believe that the separation
of an infant from its mother leads to immediate and permanent trauma.   One doesn't have to go much further than
Thomas Verny's
The Secret Life of The  Unborn Child or The Secret Life of The  Unborn Child or Neilson's A Child Is
to clearly identify the primal connection.   Psychologists and psychiatrists dealing with patients who exhibit the Rad
set of symptoms have long ago identified a group of trauma related effects.

Read Gap's Paper on Reactive Attachment Disorder/Abandonment Trauma/Adoptee Trauma

We have found that treating these kids in a behavioural way (for their behaviours, as we do with truly neurologically
behavioural kids) causes further deterioration.  These kids usually get worse with behavioural modification programs,
unlike the kids with true behavioural problems who improve dramatically with these same behaviour mod courses.   
For the benefit of these kids with these type of issues, we have integrated
Nancy Verrier's theory of The Primal Wound in
our approach to teaching and reaching them.   If you haven't read this book yet, and you're an adoptive parent, we highly
suggest it; it's become the cornerstone in the understanding of these kid's issues.

If you're a parent of an adopted child, your son or daughter might be experiencing some of the common problems
associated with adoptee trauma:  defiant behaviours, disconnectedness, stranger familiarity, lack of understanding of
basic trust and familial responsibility, aggression, severe withdrawal, poor self-esteem, enuresis, inattention, and so
on.  Read Nancy Verrier's original paper "The Primal Wound" and read our paper on Reactive Attachment
Disorder/Adoptee Trauma.  

At Gap, we believe in concurrently teaching about the effects of trauma, just like we teaching about attention - with
exercises to improve attention span creating dramatic results, this 'connection' exercises also create dramatic results.
"The longest journey
of any person is the
journey inward."
"Children need love, especially when
they behave like they do not deserve it."
Harold Hulbert
Link to
(an intriguing site
Link to
Adoptee Trauma Course Materials
"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the
companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the
joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."
Rachel Carson
Hodding Carter