How to Understand Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a psychological condition, which usually develops in children from nine months to 5 years old. Reactive Attachment Disorder is directly interlinked to emotional attachment or a feeling of security with the caregiver. In RAD, a child does not show any signs of emotional bonding or attachment for the caregiver, already though the caregiver portrays a sense of love and care for the child. These children have problems in trusting the caregiver and most of the time keep sad and eager.
Causes of RAD
There is no particular reason for RAD but more often traumatizing childhood events are known to cause this mental disorder. These events could include childhood abuse, parental negligence, living life as an orphan in an orphanage, separation from caregiver when the child was emotionally bonded to the caregiver, or frequent move from one foster family or other.
Whenever a child is in need of care and the caregivers provides them with immediate attention and care, the child develops a sense of security and emotional bonding with the caregiver. On the contrary, if a child is abandoned when they need love and care, they develop a sense of insecurity, anger, outrage, and sadness, which might rule to the development of RAD.
Babies can also develop RAD if they are left in a soiled diaper for long, keep unattended, and if they are hungry and are not fed on time. Some other reasons why babies and children develop RAD are as follows:
- Handled by multiple caregivers with no one giving them any particular attention, love, or a reason to bond
- Not given the attention they deserve
- without of healthy interaction as a child
- Faced a series of traumatic event in early childhood
Another major reason for a child to develop RAD is when the only way they can get attention is by acting or displaying disturbing behavior.
Childhood RAD can cause harsh problems as the child grows to be an adult. It is apparent that such adults have behave compulsively, have trust issues in relationships, and become socially secluded.
Symptoms of RAD
The symptoms of RAD can be summarized as follows:
- Inability to show the expected emotional range when communicating with others
- Inability to show any emotions of love, regret, guilt, avoidance, and negligence
- Avoiding eye and body contact, especially with parents or caregivers
- Expressing anxiety
- Losing temper frequently
- Near-continued irritability
- Feelings of unhappiness and sadness
- Being argumentative
- Being extremely friendly and interactive with strangers while showing no emotions towards the caregiver.
Types of RAD
RAD can be of two types. These include:
Inhibited RAD symptoms: In this kind, the child is well aware of the situation and circumstances in which they are living but they do not respond typically to outside stimuli. Children show unresponsiveness and withdrawn symptoms towards their caregiver.
Disinhibited RAD symptoms: In this kind, the child may be too friendly with strangers. Children experiencing disinhibited symptoms of RAD do not like their dominant caregivers or develop an emotional bond with them. They react quite immaturely and try to seek attention from strangers.
How Is RAD Diagnosed?
Your child’s doctor can estimate RAD by asking about the behavior of your child that could show neglect from the dominant caregiver. Your child’s personal medical history, including childhood abuse, emotional negligence, etc., which is important to make a proper diagnosis. However, before RAD can be diagnosed, doctors need to rule out the chances of Autism, which may have almost similar symptoms.
Treatment for RAD
The treatment plan for RAD is customized as per the child and focuses on building a healthy relationship between the child and the caregiver.
The treatment plan may include the following.
- Counseling and psychotherapy: Psychiatrists work with parents and children in a variety of ways, sometimes alone with the child, sometimes with the caregiver, and sometimes with both of them together to help build emotional well-being.
- Family therapy: This includes combined therapy conducted with both the child and the caregiver to strengthen their emotional bond.
- Social skill intervention: This therapy involves working with children and teaching them how to best interact with other children of the same age making them more sociable. Often parents are also asked to be involved to help their children apply the skills they have learned.
- Special education/Parenting skills classes: With special education at school children are taught to enhance their skills and rule a normal life. While in parenting skill classes parents are promoted to learn methods to deal and cope with their children experiencing from RAD.
- Medication management: The use of certain psychiatric drugs can help relieve some of the anxiety symptoms that young people may experience during their stay in a RAD rehabilitation center.
- Individual therapy: This therapy is conducted once a week and allows patients to seek treatment as per the severity of the disease.
- Group therapy: This allows patients to meet people battling similar conditions. They are promoted to participate in group and as a hobby activities such as dance, music, drama, etc. This kind of therapy can also be combined with family therapy wherein the family also participates in the group activities.
- Psychotherapy: In RTCs, psychotherapy is combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, experimental therapy, and many other different and experiential activities to combat RAD.
How Residential Treatment Centers can Help Cure RAD?
Rehabilitation for RAD in a calm, organized, and family ecosystem is very effective. This can be provided by an inpatient or residential treatment center (RTC) at its campus. An RTC provides a comfortable and therapeutic ecosystem, for teenagers and children to get the care they need in a realistic and familiar home like ecosystem. Such centers follow all the treatment protocols and are conducive to the child’s healing.
When to Seek Help?
Many children treated for RAD have established strong and healthy connections with their dominant caregivers and others, and have established models for important relationships in the future. Untreated children may have long-lasting emotional problems.