Does your child have reactive attachment disorder and what to do with RAD?

Causes of Reactive Attachment Disorder in Children - Signs of RAD and DiagnosisThe term “attachment disorder” in medicine is used to refer to a group of mental disorders that develop in children in the absence of the necessary emotional contact with their parents (approx. – or guardians, which is more common).

How is RAD expressed, how is it to be determined in a child, and which specialists should I contact?

The content of the article:

  1. What is RRS – causes and types
  2. Symptoms of Attachment Disorder in Children
  3. What specialists should I contact for RRP?

What is Attachment Disorder in Children – Causes of RAD and Types

By the word “attachment” it is customary to mean a feeling (feeling) of emotional closeness, which is usually formed on the basis of love and certain sympathies.

Attachment disorder is said to be when a child shows signs of emotional and behavioral disorders resulting from a lack of communication with parents – and the result of a lack of trusting relationships with them.

Psychiatrists designate this diagnosis with the abbreviation “RRP”, which in the everyday sense implies a cold relationship with guardians.

The prevalence of RAD is less than 1%.

Video: Attachment Disorders

Specialists classify the types of RP as follows:

  • Disinhibited (approx. – disinhibited) RP. In this case, the child does not differ in selectivity regarding the people to whom he can turn. In the earliest childhood, the baby “clings” even to strangers, and the growing child strives to attract the attention of adults and is not particularly picky in friendly relations. Most often, this type of RP is observed in children whose caregivers (guardians, foster families) have repeatedly changed during the first years of life.
  • Inhibited (approx. – inhibited) RP. The symptoms of this type of RP are not very pronounced – but, according to the classification of diseases, this type of RP is called reactive and implies lethargy, depression, or hypervigilance of a small patient who may react to the caregiver / caregiver in different ways. Such children are often very aggressive in relation to other people’s (and even their own) suffering, unhappy.

According to another classification of RP, there are 4 types of it, taking into account the etiological factor:

  1. Negative RP. Reasons: overprotection – or neglect of the child. Signs: the child provokes adults into irritation, negative assessment, even punishment.
  2. Avoiding RP. Reasons: breaking up the relationship with the guardian / parent. Signs: distrustfulness, isolation.
  3. Ambivalent RP. Causes: Inconsistent adult behavior. Signs: categorical and ambivalent behavior (from affection to a fight, from kindness to an attack of aggression).
  4. Disorganized RP. Reasons: violence, cruelty to the child. Signs: aggression, cruelty, resistance to any attempts to establish contact.

What are the main causes of RP in children?

Among the features considered as risk factors and provoking the formation of RAD are:

  • Low resistance to stress.
  • Instability of the nervous system.

The reasons for the development of RP are usually situations in which the child loses the ability to maintain the necessary stable connection with parents or guardians:

  1. Lack of full contact with the mother.
  2. Mother’s abuse of alcohol or drugs.
  3. Mental disorders of the mother.
  4. Postpartum depression of the mother.
  5. Domestic violence, humiliation.
  6. Unwanted pregnancy.
  7. Forced separation of parents and a child with the subsequent placement of the child in an orphanage or even a boarding school.
  8. Refusal of guardianship (frequent change of foster families).


Summing up, we can say that RP occurs in children who were not given the opportunity to calmly and safely attach to someone.

Causes of Reactive Attachment Disorder in Children

Symptoms of RAD – How to Spot Attachment Disorders in Children?

As a rule, the formation of the RRS occurs still before the age of five (it can be diagnosed even up to 3 years old), after which this violation can accompany the child even up to adulthood.

The symptoms of RAD are similar to disorders such as phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, etc., so the diagnosis is usually not made “by eye”.

Key symptoms of RAD include:

  • Alertness and fearfulness.
  • Lagging in intellectual development.
  • Attacks of aggression.
  • Difficulty adapting and establishing relationships.
  • Indifference to a person’s departure.
  • Frequent quiet crying for no specific reason.
  • Developing (over time) aversion to hugs and any touch.
  • Mental retardation, which becomes more pronounced with age.
  • Lack of guilt after incidents of inappropriate behavior.

It is important to note that symptoms – and their severity – depend on the type of RP, age, and other factors.

For instance…

  1. RP toddlers under the age of 5 usually rarely smile and look away when trying to make eye contact. The approach of adults does not make them happy.
  2. Children with an inhibited form of the disorder do not want to be reassured, to be approached or to establish contact with them, do not take an outstretched toy from adults.
  3. For a disordered type of disorder children, on the other hand, are constantly looking for contact, comfort and a sense of security. But only with strangers. As for the parents or guardians, their children are rejected.

The main risks of the RRS.

Among the most common complications of this disorder are …

  • Delayed mental development.
  • Decreased cognitive interest.
  • Violation of acceptance / transfer of experience.
  • Lagging in the development of speech, thinking.
  • Social maladjustment.
  • Acquisition of emotional and other deviations as character traits.
  • Further development of neuroses, psychopathy, etc.

Video: Forming Attachment

Diagnosing attachment disorders in children – which specialists should you contact for signs of RAD?

First of all, it is important to understand that without a clear knowledge of the entire history of the upbringing of a particular child, an accurate diagnosis is impossible

Also, no less important is the fact that the situations experienced in the complex do not necessarily provoke this disorder. Therefore, it is definitely not worth it to draw conclusions on your own, this diagnosis should be an expert opinion based on the results of a complete diagnosis.

Signs of RAD in a child - diagnosis

Which doctor should you contact if you suspect a child has RP?

  1. Pediatrician.
  2. Psychologist.
  3. Psychotherapist.
  4. Psychiatrist.

How is the diagnosis carried out?

Of course, the earlier the disorder is diagnosed, the greater the chances for a quick recovery of the child.

  • First of all, the doctor’s close attention is focused on the relationship between mother and baby, family relationships and the consequences of relationships. No less attention is paid to the child’s upbringing style, the completeness of satisfying his interests, the child’s own space, and so on.
  • The doctor must accurately determine whether the symptoms of the disorder are associated with other diseases. For example, lethargy can occur after a traumatic brain injury or mania.
  • Collecting medical history, interviewing parents and other people close to the child, observing the child in different situations – all this is an obligatory part of the diagnosis.
  • Also, a special psychodiagnostics is performed, which can reveal the presence of emotional-volitional disorders.

As for the treatment, it is carried out exclusively comprehensively – with consultations of psychologists, family psychotherapy, drug correction, etc.

As a rule, early problems of RP can be eliminated if the social circumstances of the child’s life are improved in time. But the final “healing” for the subsequent, normal adult life of a child can be achieved only with his complete reconciliation with the past – understanding the past, the ability to step over it – and move on.

The website informs: all information in the article is for informational purposes only, and is not a guide to action. An accurate diagnosis can only be made by a doctor. In case of alarming symptoms, we kindly ask you not to self-medicate, but to make an appointment with a specialist!
Health to you and your loved ones!

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