Attachment disorder, sometimes called reactive attachment disorder or RAD, occurs frequently in adopted children. The result of neglect, improper care or abuse in the early part of life, this disorder may cause only minor symptoms in many children. In more serious cases, however, these children can exhibit extreme behavioral problems and lack the ability to bond with their new family. Read on to learn more about this devastating disorder.
Facts about Attachment and Associated Problems
To develop the capacity for healthy emotional attachment, infants require the ongoing attention of a caregiver who comforts and soothes them, and responds to their needs. When those needs are not met during infancy and early childhood, children never learn to trust or to love. The child’s self-image suffers, she lacks the ability to manage her emotions and she has no empathy for or awareness of others’ needs or feelings.
RAD manifests in two types, inhibited and disinhibited. Inhibited symptoms include detachment, holding emotions inside, withdrawal and avoidance of others. Disinhibited RAD children tend to be overly responsive, grabbing and clinging to strangers and displaying an inappropriate level of indiscriminate familiarity or affection. Rage, anger and the overwhelming need to exert control are common. For parents, attachment problems can be devastating
Increased Frequency Seen in Adopted Children
Many children who find their way into the adoption system have faced challenges during infancy and early childhood, including abandonment and abuse. In some cases, the child may have been orphaned or born to an incarcerated or hospitalized mother.
Before entering the adoption system, children are often passed around among family members or rotated through foster homes. Lacking the opportunity to remain in any one place for very long, these children never develop an appropriate level of caregiver bonding. If a child reaches the age or four or five without having developed emotional bonds, she may lose ability to do so. As time goes on, the child may learn that she only receives attention when she acts out or exhibits behavioral extremes. For these reasons, many adoptive families must learn how to manage their child’s attachment problems.
Coping with Your Child’s Attachment Disorder
Attachment disorder is frequently mistaken for other types of behavioral problems or mental illness. Diagnosis is made by first ruling out any potential physical causes for the behavioral extremes, then administering assessments and observing behavior.
Treatment involves helping the child learn to develop and maintain healthy relationships. Caregivers must learn to exhibit the appropriate responses, even under the most emotionally challenging circumstances. When faced with almost constant anger from your child and a lack of a loving connection, the situation may seem hopeless. It’s critical for parents who suspect RAD in their child to seek help quickly.
With appropriate treatment, intervention and a healthy dose of loving support, reactive attachment disorder can be repaired. The compassionate staff at Havenwood Academy has extensive experience in working with families of RAD kids. We can help you create an atmosphere of safety for your daughter and teach you valuable strategies for coping with the pressures you face. Call Havenwood today and let us help you deal with your child’s attachment disorder.