Reactive Attachment Disorder: The Tantrum (Viewer Discretion Strongly Advised)

Before you even watch the following video, we must be clear on a few things.

You should read Behavioral Crisis: Here’s what happened first for background.

A few things to keep in mind:

1) This is not an #Autism related meltdown. It’s a RAD related tantrum. Big difference and must be handled differently.

2) Gavin has complete control over this behavior. You don’t have to like it, but it’s a fact.

3) The self-injurious behavior is meant to manipulate us into removing the consequence he’s facing for his previous actions. We cannot intervene.

4) This is not easy or pleasant to watch. Turn your volume down and don’t let young children view, until you have seen the whole video.

5) I’m not without compassion for Gavin, however, this has to be handled in a very specific way.

6) As bad as this sounds, he does not need comfort. Remember, this is a temper tantrum not a sensory related meltdown.

7) I document these for a couple of reasons:

a) proof as to how his injuries occured

b) behavioral documentation for his doctors and specialists

c) educational purposes


Having said all of the above. Here is the footage, documenting what happened this morning. Again, please remember that while Gavin does have aspergers, this is a reactive attachment disorder related temper tantrum.

This is handled in a manner that is significantly different from a sensory related meltdown, common to people on the spectrum.

By sharing this, I hope to provide insight into what families like mine are trying to cope with.

Lizze and I both want something positive to come out of this nightmare. Hopefully, by helping to educate the public, people can become more aware of what some special needs families are going through.

Again, this video is unpleasant but important to watch. Please be aware this is very loud and Gavin is very violent towards himself. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

Also, the only thing you will really hear me say during this video is basically reminding Gavin to scream into his pillow and keep the tantrum on the mattress.


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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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momfromcanada Uh, since when are people with schizophrenia not held criminally responsible for their acts? Have you HEARD about the way the courts system treats the mentally ill? The largest psychiatric unit in California is located in the Los Angeles County Jail.


momfromcanadaYou’re wrong, actually. Sorry, but it’s true. Having a mental illness or two or three is not a free pass to do whatever the hell you want. It’s not a free pass to commit crimes. It’s not a free pass to be excused of all your actions.
A defendant claiming insanity is pleading “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI) or “guilty but insane/mentally ill”
in some jurisdictions which, if successful, may result in the defendant
being committed to a psychiatric facility for an indeterminate period.
That said, Gavin’s schizophrenia is not the cause of his tantrums. Schizophrenia results in hallucinations, not violent behavior. The only potential violent behavior is acting out due to the hallucinations themselves- a voice telling you to throw a rock at someone or they’ll kill you. Or hallucination someone’s face as a demon’s face instead.
Autism doesn’t result in tantrums inherently, and neither does bipolar. Bipolar is a cycling of highs and lows. Manic mood changes are when their mood is elated above normal. Their thoughts and actions take place at a faster rate than normal. The filter is reduced- what they think is what is said because impulse control is reduced. That still doesn’t mean that they can’t control whether or not they listen to the rules.
If they cut Gavin some “slack” then the rest of the family will suffer too. The other kids will see him getting away with breaking the rules and they’ll wonder why they can’t too. How is that fair to anyone? If Gavin were to ever live out in the real world, he would have to learn how to manage his disabilities and blend in with the rest of society. No one will “cut some slack” just because he has multiple disabilities.
Rob and Lizzie do care about him- unconditionally. They would not fight tooth and nail to get him the best medical care if they didn’t. The problem is that Gavin’s issues aren’t plain black and white. They require out of the box thinking, and they have had multiple therapists and treatment providers agree with their discipline methods. They’ve tried positive reinforcement, they tried the standard ways of discipline, it didn’t work. They’re doing what they can, but don’t assume that just because someone has disabilities that they can get away scotch free from their behaviors. They’re still held responsible.


momfromcanada we can agree to disagree.  I appreciate your well wishes.  Thank you much.  I wish you and yours the very same.


People like Gavin who suffer from severe mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia are not held accountable in court even for most heinous of acts because they simply do not know right from wrong.
How can a child like Gavin who suffers from autism , bipolar disorder and schizophrenia plot to take control over your house?! Do you know how crazy that sounds?
Is Dr. Patti aware that Gavin is trying to control your life? Maybe she should add paranoid to your list of symptoms!
If you truly love Gavin as your son, why don’t you try to imagine what it’s like to live in his shoes? Cut the kid some slack! He has severe mental problems.
I am not saying your life is easy, I know it is extremely stressful…but I promise you, Gavin has it much worse. He needs your unconditional love just as much Emmett and Elliott do.
Did you ask Gavin’s permission before posting a video of his tantrum online for the whole world to see? I know my 12 year old would be extremely upset if I did that to her. 
Regardless…wishing you and your family all the health and happiness this world has to offer and more.


Your love for this child could be a path to his healing.  Have read “Dandelion on My Pillow, Butcher Knife Beneath” several times in my research on RAD and have seen a world totally unknown to me before.  Gavin and your whole family will be in my prayers.


SueHimebaughCrissman thank you

Hurt One

Silachan Why don’t you hold him?!!? I am an adult with rad and have wanted for years to have someone hold me while I let all my rage and pain out!
What we feel is freaking painful and since I could not get help when I was willing to try,talk therapy didn’t work,family,husband abandoned me.Now I am “stuck”inside with all this pain leading me to thoughts of suicide and murder.
Idiots! Just dump him in an institution,right??Why don’t you contact Martha Welch who I met and was going to work with me till my family decided I was”too much”too deal with,wasn’t willing to go through therapy with me,and left me all alone now.I have not healed!
Take it from someone who knows and goes through this!!
Check into holding therapy,Nancy and Beth Thomas,Child of Rage documentary,and the book Holding Time by Martha Welch.Also,I read a book about a couple who adopted a girl with rad.They used to let her lie on the floor and leave her alone in her rages.Years later,they found out about rad and realized that all those times she needed to be held during those rages.They felt so bad but they didn’t know better until it was too late.So they wrote a book about it.The title has the word Butterfly in it but I can’t remember the rest.


@Hurt One Silachan I appreciate your feedback and honesty however, the therapist involved in Child of Rage went to prison for murder. Something else important is that everyone is different. What works for you may not work for my son. Again, I really appreciate your insight..


Silachan @Hurt One lostandtired
My son has RAD.  what works for him one day might not work the next.  When he starts a swing through one of his “episodes” there is nothing to do but keep him from hurting either himself or anyone else.  It is very scary to see and feel the level of rage that he is capable of expressing.  No two people with RAD are alike.


I used to do this….I feel terrified watching him shreak because I know what that feels like….
out of control
scared alone panicking terror in my chest cant sit still anger rage
a hole in my heart
its tough
be patient with him….I took alot of beatings by my parents out of their frustration…impatience…and negligence..empathy sympathy and compassion are needed. Not having your mom you biological tie is something you life with till you die.


@daretofly11 thank you so much for your honesty. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through as well. 🙂


WOW watching this video, first of all, brings back memories of how I was when I was a child. I used to do the same things believe it or not and was never diagnosed as anything but an "hyperactive"  child. At seven years old I put my own head through a window. That being said, have you ever showed Gavin these videos of himself after he has had time to calm down?  When I was in therapy b/c they said I simply had " anger control problems"  my therapist suggested to them they show this to me once I was completely calm (even like the day after). Of course, we didn't have a video camera back then, but they did audio tape one of my fits before. My mom said when they played it back to me I cried and became upset and didn't believe it was me on the tape. Anyhow, I was just wondering if you've ever tried that. I feel for Gavin b/c I know the rage he is feeling on the inside, but I also completely agree with your statement above…this is truly behavior that is under his control. It is a manipulative tool. You are exactly right, he does this b/c he thinks if he hurts himself bad enough you will end his punishment feeling bad for him. I know this is true, b/c as I said above I used to do this VERY same thing, so I know what's going on in his head. Be strong. My thoughts are with you guys as always. I love you guys very much and wish there was something I could do to help. 


Your post is so interesting since you are genetically related to Gavin.  Wow.  


 @dotdash Actually, there is no genetic relation. Vett is my wife's very close friend fro high school. They are like sisters and she is like part of our family. 
No offense Vett. I just wanted to clarify the genetic link part…. Family is thicker than blood. 🙂


 @lostandtired  @dotdash None taken at all! I was just actually going to get on here and leave a comment straightening out the whole thing. 🙂


@Lost_and_Tired ~ I'm heartbroken for the torment that is in Gavin's head no chid should have to endure what he does ~ my prayers r with u


I have seen tantrums almost exactly like this and I sympathize entirely.  It is a horrible thing to go through, very painful for all involved.  
Here is my observation (and you have said as much in your posts):  Gavin is unable to accept punishment.  It's too much psychic pain for him.   The video clearly shows that.  
My experience with this type of child is that they learn only from positive reinforcement.   Have you tried dropping all punishments and motivating him only by praise?  It cannot, frankly, get much worse, and you might find he becomes more possible to live with.  I really strongly encourage you to think about this approach.  Please.  That video is all of you calling for help.   If all you succeed in doing is stopping that from ever happening again, that would be a major gift to everyone in your house.  


we have tried positive reinforcement many times. It doesn't work either.


 @lostandtired   How do you give a positive reinforcement to a child who just doesn't care? 


 @Carlyoung  @dotdash That's our problem as well. The other issue is that the reward system will eventually be exploited. At least in our experience.


  Forgive me; I see what you're saying and respect it.  I can't speak for the Lost and Tired family but from following the blog for several months and witnessing horrifying and heartbreaking videos, they have went far and beyond to the point of sacrificing their lives to help Gavin. 


 @MaryAnn47 OMG, I am not saying they have not gone above and beyond for Gavin — I know they have being amazing and strong and courageous — I'm all in their corner.  I'm just saying that if punishing Gavin is going to destroy the household's peace and cause suffering, and it doesn't correct his behavior anyway, why not just stop doing it?  
Positive reinforcement may not work with Gavin either (Rob's note above) but avoiding open conflict and destructive scenes may be an end in itself.  


  Thank you– you do hit the nail on the head and I see it clearer now.   No matter how they try to correct Gavin, they have no peace whatsoever-not to mention being held hostage by that behavior which no one deserves.   I look forward to reading more of your great posts on Lost and Tired and feel free to reply to me anytime.  Thanks again!


 @dotdash  @MaryAnn47 Dot, 
no worries my friend. I appreciat ethe suggestions. However, the only thing that will stop Gavin from doing this is to no longer hold him accountable for his actions. While not having to deal with these tantrums sounds amazing, allowing Gavin to rule the house is downright scary. 
We sorta take each situation at a time and decide how best to handle it considerning the general stability of everyone in the house at that moment.
That said, this is no way to live. I agree. 


 @lostandtired  @MaryAnn47  It sounds so hard.  My heart goes out to you all (and you, too, Carl Young, having read some of your blog).  I admire you all immensely for the endurance you demonstrate every day and all the strength you have to face the tough days ahead.  


 @Chloe123 I do think he's frustrated but not for the right reasons, if that makes sense. He doesn't care about why he can't go to Grandmas house, just that he can't go. 
I think that most of what he's saying is meant to manipulate and that makes me really sad.


 @autiesmama Thank you very much for your support. I truly, truly appreciate. 🙂


 @Brianne Lynn Thank you very much. We hate the idea of sending one of our children away but we don't have any options and its the best thing for everyone. 


As the parent of 4 boys ,2 of which are autistic ,this is clearly not a meltdown,but a tantrum,and clearly for attention,I hope that you documenting this will help the doctors come to understand that residential placement is needed and something got to happen so all of you but especially the boys will stop being tortured by this out of control behavior. I think you and Lizze are trying everything you can ,and I wish the powers that be would move quicker so you can get a break . Thoughts and prayers go with you guys,


 @ChrisCrane Thank you for your amazingly kind words of support. 🙂


 @ChrisCrane I agree, this definitely looks like a tantrum. At one point he kind of stops and calms a little bit, then he starts back up again. So hard to watch. Rob, I am thinking of you, Lizzie, and the boys. HUGS! Remember, you and Lizzie are great parents.


That's so hard to watch. I do feel for Gavin, i feel for all of you. How long did this go on for?  I can't believe he can go on for so long without burning himself out.


This actually went on for about 30 minutes. My camera crashed about 10 or 12 minutes in. He has been known to go on for over an hour. 


 @lostandtired Marc has been known to do it for upwards of 6 hours. 


 @Carlyoung When Gavin was younger and if better health, he would go for hours but never quiet that long. I don't even what to think about that. Good lord. 


If more people could understand what parents of kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder go through, every day.  Maybe there would be as much awareness as what there is for Autism, or Downs Syndrome. 
The terror that our other kids go through every day when living in these situations, is extraordinary.  Thank you Rob for sharing your pain.  I for one APPLAUD your bravery.  You make me want to be a better dad.


 @Carlyoung You are an inspiration for me as well. Our lives are the same in so many ways. It's nice to know someone that can truly relate. Thanks my friend. 


You really have your hands full!  At one point I heard him scream "stop me" and "help me," then "I'm too frustrated..I can't fake it".  He"s crying for help, but the only true help will be in the form of a strictly controlled environment where he has no one he can manipulate.  I hope everyone who watches this understands his SIBs are just an attempt  to manipulate you as well as whoever watches the video.  I will pray for your early relief!

Brianne Lynn

I first want to thank you for posting this.  It is very clear after watching it to see how this tantrum is vs an autism related or sensory related meltdown.  He is very clear with his direct look at the camera that he is doing it for attention.  My son will do self injurious behavior to himself at times but never to that extent. 
Secondly, thank you for sharing this with us as it lets us (readers) up close and personal into your everyday.  It breaks my heart to know that is what you are dealing with on a regular basis.  I can't imagine the feeling of stress you must have.  Even from behind the camera though you appear so calm and strong on what you are telling him.  You are a very strong person to deal with this and not breakdown yourself. 
Third, I really hope that things come through very soon for his residential placement.  After viewing this, that is absolutely the safest thing for your family and for Gavin himself.  Hugs.


Rob–Personally, I can't think of another parent who would be able to keep the appropriately set and completely necessary rules/boundaries/tone under such circumstances.  I couldn't do it. You do it. Wow, do you do it.It may be that I saw what I *expected* to see in Gavin, but his control over his behavior seemed very clear to me–again, perhaps this is based on what you've said in previous posts, regardless, it was clearly *not* a sensory or uncontrolled spectrum-related tantrum.  His direct eye contact with the camera, the relatively regular rhythm of his escalations and exhaustions, the calculated pauses in which he monitors your reaction–geez, I swear there were moments he looked anxious because he couldn't think of any more tricks Again, I was looking for the differences between the two kinds of meltdowns, so please don't take offense.
I am so very sorry. 
I can't fathom that you or anyone else could possibly wonder what else there is except residential placement. He *will* continue to be this way, and the very, very least best is to see that he does it in a safe (for your family and for Gavin) setting. This is a kindness to him, I think, to put him in a physically safer setting.  If he is going to self-injure, then his surroundings must minimize the damage he does. I hope that makes sense–even if you remove what you and your family endure via these behaviors, you are still doing a kind thing by putting him where he will be safer from himself.  All parents, I suppose, do this on much, much smaller and most likely incomparable scales.  You, Rob, you're in the big leagues.  wow. I can't imagine.
You're doing all the right stuff. The best you can, which is better than I could hope to do.
Thank you for sharing this. It goes a long way to help us understand.


WOW Rob, as I continue watching the video, all I can say is HUGS! He stops and starts to calm down, then starts up again… HUGS!


OH He is upset about the consequence of not going to his grandparents this weekend…. that is why he is frustrated…


MAJOR hugs!!! Rob: I just noticed around 2:53 in the video, Gavin is saying "I'm too frustrated!!" do you think he is? Or is it just an attempt to manipulate you into getting what he wants? 
I have no idea, it just came to mind. 
Thinking of you all! 


It is so sad to see Galvin like that. I really hope there will be some benefit for him and for you guys with residential placement. It is truly painful to watch.


@kat13 thanks. It's very painful…


im trying to watch the video but feels so painful i keep stopping it. hope i will have the courage to watch it later and maybe learn how to deal with my son's tantrums better.


Hopefully you guys get some peace soon, him included. He sounds like he's fighting with himself as well as hating that he got caught and has to face consequences.
Also for anyone who wants to safely watch it without it being too loud, turn your speakers to about 8% through the volume control. That seems to be a decent volume where you can hear Rob speaking but Gavin's screeches aren't ear piercing.
That being said it's no wonder Lizzie is faced with migraines so often. Even one of these tantrums or rages would give any sensitive person a migraine for a long time, not to mention repeated exposure. :/ I wish I could help.