Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) may be diagnosed in children as early as infancy. It is often found in children who have been in foster care or adopted. A reactive attachment child is unable to create a healthy attachment to their primary caregiver. The reason they struggle to attach is because the child has been neglected, abused, and/or abandoned by their mother, the very person who was supposed to keep them safe when they were younger. They likely did not have their basic needs for comfort, affection, and nurturance met by their mother. Therefore, a child who has had their basic needs ignored in the past does not expect comfort or care from others. They may also view the world as not a safe place, unpredictable, and terrifying. The child may perceive adults as unable to be trusted or depended upon. The reactive attachment child struggles to develop normal, healthy relationships with others throughout their life. A RAD child may express withdrawal, fear, or irritability without reason. They may express a neutral affect and/or avoid social engagement. The child may fail to ask for support or assistance, when its clear they need it. A child with Reactive Attachment Disorder may connect superficially with others quickly, but fail to develop deep relationships with others.
Reactive Attachment Disorder can be extremely difficult on the parents, especially the mother. It often leaves them exhausted and feeling hopeless. The adoptive parents do all they can to attach to the child, but due to the child’s past experiences, the child views them as a threat. The child may believe if they relinquish parental control to the mother, she will hurt and leave them as their primary caregiver did in the past. They may seem open to a relationship, but may withdrawal once they become too vulnerable. Therefore, the child may push them away through their negative behaviors. It’s important for the parents to be aware that the struggles of Reactive Attachment Disorder are not their fault. It is a very serious disorder that requires professional treatment.
Treatment for Reactive Attachment Disorder focuses on helping the child to develop more stable, healthy, and deeper relationships with their parents and others. This may be accomplished through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Also, family therapy can be used by facilitating positive exchanges with the child and the caregivers. A stable and nurturing environment is also important. Providing consistent care, love, and support for the child despite their struggles will help them challenge their view of the world as being untrustworthy. Parent training may be necessary and help in understanding the struggles that may be faced with a RAD child as well.
Promise Village: Home for Children is experienced and committed to helping children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The program focuses on development of healthy attachments through individual, group, family, and equine therapy. Promise Village also has a safe, structured environment where children can safely build relationships with staff, peers, and others. We seek to help children overcome the struggles associated with RAD and help them develop strong and healthy relationships in their lives.
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- Anxiety Disorder
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Behavioral Warning Signs
- Compulsive Personality Disorder
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
- Runaway Teens
- Teen Alcohol Abuse
- Teen Anger
- Teen Depression
- Teen Drug Use
- Teenage Mood Disorders