Reactive attachment Disorder Explained
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) occurs in infants and young children who have difficulty establishing healthy, adaptive parental bonds. Often children who are diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder have experienced abuse or neglect while they were in their infancy, preventing their basic needs for nurturing, stimulation, and comfort to be fulfilled.
Reactive attachment disorder treatment begins with early intervention through quality mental health care. In the best cases children are able to reestablish healthy attachment and enjoy more stable, comforting relationships. Ultimately, children undergoing treatment for reactive attachment disorder are able to achieve a better quality of life.
Reactive Attachment Disorder’s Associated Disorders
Children diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder sometimes may experience other problems and issues. Some of the common co-occurring disorders include:
Symptoms Reactive Attachment Disorder
Children who are diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder experience a combination of symptoms. Some of these may include (but are not limited to):
- Feeding difficulties
- Failure to gain weight
- Impassive or emotionally disconnected behavior
- Difficulty with being reassured
- Extreme shyness in social interactions
- Inappropriate comfort with strangers
Causes of Reactive Attachment Disorder
Reactive attachment disorder is based on a history of problematic relationships with the care of a child. This means the child has had a significant disruption in his/her early relationships including, but not limited to; physical and/or emotional abuse or neglect, traumatic loss of a primary care giver and/or inadequate care in an out of home placement. Overall, the research supports that RAD is a result of inadequate care giving.
Commonality of Reactive Attachment
Research has shown that 80% of families that are considered high-risk have children that meet the criteria for an attachment problem, including reactive attachment disorder. A high-risk family is defined as one in which the caregivers experience or present with one or more of the following issues:
- Abuse or neglect
- Significant substance abuse issues
- Domestic violence
- A history of maltreatment
- Depression and other psychological disorders
- Significant medical issues
Diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder
Children who exhibit symptoms of reactive attachment disorder require a comprehensive evaluation and a specialized treatment plan for their reactive attachment disorder.
Equilibria’s child psychologists provide reactive attachment disorder assessments in order to rule out psychiatric disorders that may mirror some of the same symptoms. Assessing and excluding psychiatric disorders is imperative in order to appropriately address the issues throughout the course of treatment for reactive attachment disorder.
Treatment for Reactive Attachment Disorder
At Equilibria Kids, we have expert clinicians trained in working with young children who have attachment issues. We work with the children to help them develop adaptive coping skills related to attachment and separation and work closely with the parents to develop the necessary skills to help their child re-experience healthy attachment and learn to separate in a healthy way.