I shared the previous post on an online attachment disorder support forum. My final statement was, “The best predictor of treatment outcome for attachment challenged kids is NOT how disturbed the kid, but the capacity of the parent,” which was, I believe, a pretty accurate quote from Dr. Arthur Becker-Weidman.
One of the parents in the forum commented that that sounded like a lot to put on the parents’ shoulders – what about all the other factors, like age at adoption, prenatal alcohol exposure, and so on? Some kids come through like Michale Oher in The Blind Side, while others with amazingly therapeutic parents don’t seem to heal.
I made a valiant attempt to clarify myself. J The following is based on the response I shared on the board. (MY words, not Arthur Becker-Weidman’s.) Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful as well.
The best predictor of TREATMENT OUTCOME (and A B-W was speaking of attachment treatment) etc., etc.
IOW, the first assumption is that you’re working with a professional who doesn’t have his head up his @$$ (gee, sure would’ve liked to have found even one of them early on!), one who is supporting the parent, who is helping the parent(s) work through the parent’s (parents’) own stuff. FAE is another whole ball game, but as far as attachment challenges go, when the parent is able to change their own ways of responding/relating, there’s a better chance of the child changing.
Capacity of the parent refers to the parent’s insightfulness, own attachment state & state of mind, sensitivity (and I would say this might be sensitivity to the child’s state, but not sensitivity to button pushing), reflective capacity, and commitment. I would add to that, flexibility, openness, willingness to try something different; and parent training / education re: attachment & the treatment method (which I guess goes along with treatment by a decent professional).
Best predictor does not mean only predictor. I think this just means strongest statistical correlation. So… some kids are more resilient. Some kids have fewer attachment challenges, in spite of their background. (Maybe your friend’s kids?) But if your starting population is attachment challenged kids, and the family is being seen for the kid’s attachment issues AND the family dynamics, the kids who are going to do better are the ones who have parents with greater “capacity.” Statisticallyspeaking.
So, perhaps FASD kids do worse on average than do cocaine-exposed kids, or than kids who have “just” attachment issues… but the correlation, mathematically, is stronger with parent capacity than with substance exposure, or other factors – which do still play a part.
Empowering, because it means that if we have good training and support, we have a chance at making a difference… but scary as well.
And BTW – A B-W did NOT come off as if he were laying it all on parents, although he did emphasize that the parents DO need to do their own work and processing a lot of the time. He was pretty clear that raising these kids is tough, that he only sees them a couple hours a week but parents live it 24/7, and all the other stuff we know so well.
For your reference: Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Institute