Reactive Attachment Disorder and Disruptions at School

Some children and young adults have difficulty establishing healthy bonds with authority figures, which can affect their education. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma, and other factors contribute to the development of attachment disorders. According to Psychology Research and Behavior Management, “Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) have special educational needs that are challenging for teachers in early education.” Havenwood Academy prioritizes providing educational support in our treatment programs for teens struggling with RAD and related mental health issues.

Risk Factors for Developing Reactive Attachment Disorder

Not all children who live through ACEs develop attachment issues. However, children who enter the foster care or adoption system have a higher risk of being diagnosed with RAD and other attachment and mental health disorders. According to StatPearls Publishing, “42% of children removed from their home and placed in an alternate setting met DSM–IV (1994) criteria for a behavioral health disorder.” In addition, children may have difficulty forming healthy attachments if they have experienced the following: 

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse 
  • Neglect
  • Lack of parental support
  • Sexual exploitation 
  • Traumatic events 
  • Family history of substance misuse 
  • Other environmental and biological factors

In The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel A. Van der Kolk wrote, “[A]ttachment researchers have shown that our earliest caregivers don’t only feed us, dress us, and comfort us when we are upset; they shape the way our rapidly growing brain perceives reality.” This shows that early childhood trauma can significantly affect the health of a teen’s social interactions and emotional stability until they receive professional mental health treatment. Therapy and other treatments provide teens with healthier coping skills and essential social skills. 

How Does Reactive Attachment Disorder Impact Academic Success? 

Many children explore their self-identity, preferences, and social boundaries at school. Interactions with peers and authority figures can shape their social development. RAD and related behavioral issues can interfere with a teen’s mental health and academic success. 

Some symptoms of attachment disorders can include: 

  • Confrontational behavior 
  • Disregarding directions from authority figures like teachers 
  • Over-reliance on authority figures and peers 
  • Difficulty identifying social cues 
  • Trust issues and difficulty communicating needs 

The symptoms and side effects of RAD can cause some children to fall far behind their peers in school and lead to problems as they transition into young adulthood. Havenwood Academy incorporates academics into our treatment program to help teens stay on track with their peers.

Common Disruptive Symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder

Disruptive symptoms look different for each child in each classroom. In many cases, these behaviors are maladaptive coping mechanisms triggered by stress. According to The Body Keeps the Score, “Being traumatized means continuing to organize your life as if the trauma were still going on—unchanged and immutable—as every new encounter or event is contaminated by the past.”

Children who have attachment issues caused by trauma could feel unsafe in a school setting. In addition, they might not understand the importance of respecting personal boundaries. This combination of factors can cause them to exhibit disruptive behaviors.

Some common forms of disruptive behaviors might include: 

  • Angry outbursts or tantrums
  • Fighting, bullying, or harassment 
  • Relying on peers or authority figures to complete tasks 
  • Depressive episodes 
  • Physically withdrawing from peers 
  • Difficulty touching, looking at, or responding to peers and authority figures 
  • Challenging or confronting peers and authority figures
  • Intentionally breaking school rules 

Havenwood Academy Provides Education Services

A child’s education affects their physical, emotional, and social development. Academic stress can worsen attachment issues and stop teens from developing healthy social relationships. At Havenwood Academy, we believe children who receive help to receive achieve academic success are more likely to establish healthy thought and behavioral patterns. Our dedicated team works together to give teens the support and resources they need to incorporate learning into a personalized treatment plan. At Havenwood Academy, we offer educational services that ensure girls undergoing treatment continue to grow and gain knowledge.

Education is about more than just learning math and history or getting good grades. School is a space where teens form bonds with peers, explore their self-identity, and learn to problem-solve. In addition, a child’s developing brain learns to make positive and healthy connections between thoughts, behaviors, and consequences when they interact with peers during structured activities. 

Our facility encourages teens to heal and learn while doing the following: 

  • Completing educational activities alongside peers 
  • Taking part in outdoor activities and exercises
  • Developing problem-solving skills in real-world situations 

Every Child Can Achieve Academic Success  

Havenwood Academy provides services that allow children to achieve and maintain success in school while providing access to high-quality mental health treatment. We offer a stable and structured environment where children with RAD can learn and practice essential social skills. The teens we serve have all the emotional and academic support they need to create a solid foundation for a healthy future. 

Our education department focuses on providing teen girls with the following: 

  • Interactive experiences that motivate creative learning 
  • Guest speakers and other events that inspire and educate 
  • Peer activities and learning tasks that encourage conflict resolution

Children learn to establish sustainable routines with the help of our care team and educators. 

A child’s educational development has a long-term effect on their mental health. Attachment disorders like RAD can interfere with a teenager’s ability to achieve and maintain academic success. Some symptoms of RAD, like dysregulated emotions or inappropriate social interactions, can cause children to fall behind their peers in school. Havenwood Academy prioritizes academic success and incorporates education into our treatment programs. Our team can stop your daughter from falling behind their peers due to behavioral issues and RAD. The education department at our facility ensures that the girls participating in treatment have all the resources and support they need. To learn more about the programs and education services we offer, call our office today at (435) 586-2500.


Think Havenwood Might Be For You?

We encourage any visitors considering placing their daughter in treatment to fill out our online assessment as soon as possible. This two minute form will give our admissions team all the information needed to determine if your daughter is a good fit for our program.