This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The RAD Stink

We call it the "RAD Stink." You've heard of the "smell of fear"? Well, the smell of dysregulation in attachment disordered kids smells like feces and the worst body odor you can imagine. When we first smelled it, we assumed Kitty was lying about bathing and hygeine, wearing dirty clothes and/ or not wiping well (definitely typical for sexual abuse)... and there was certainly evidence of that. In her former foster home she’d had major problems with encopresis that were determined to be behavioral.

One year when Kitty was really unstable, her school sent her home several times because the other kids couldn't tolerate the smell.  We had a change of clothes at school and the school sometimes had her use alcohol-based waterless hand soap on her underarms.  At home, I supervised her showers (as much as possible without invading her privacy), made sure she shaved her armpits, made sure she actually used shampoo, checked her bedding (she would frequently wet the bed and continue to sleep in it)... and while she had issues with all of these, none of them really explained the stink. Within 3 months we had her in a psych hospital.

The more dysregulated she was, the worse the stink. Her smell was almost like pheromones that oozed out of all her pores (you’ve heard people say, “He reeked of fear.”)  When she finally got regulated the stink dialed back to normal teenager with hygiene issues. I believe it is also partially a defense mechanism, particularly for victims of sexual abuse.



Another post on the RAD stink.
Good article about high stress and cortisol.

"This is just a thought and not based on any scientific anything but, if our body uses/produces hormones when under stress and stress is a toxin to the body - then that toxin overload having a bad smell is not too surprising is it? I sometimes think of our RADlings as a wild animal that has gotten cornered with no way out. Think of what that wild animal would look like - think of how that wild animal would respond to any attempt you would make to get close to it - now think if that animal was a skunk - yeah.....that folks is our Radlings!! Poor babies!! We are trying to care for the love child of a porcupine and a skunk....and we don't want to get hurt or smell bad in the process. It just can't happen."  ~ Shon, Trauma Mama

1 comment:

Sandra Zimmerman said...

Just found your blog and I think you are onto something here! Our son has a "smell" as well. Never could figure out what it was