Click Here for Objective Professional Assistance.
I. What is Reactive
The love and dependency that is displayed
by children toward their parents is one of the most touching
relationships in our society. This attachment has been discussed
in literature and depicted in our art. But sometimes a piece
of this picture is missing. Sometimes the love, devotion and
affection a child feels for his or her family seems to be
non-existent. This syndrome is labeled Reactive Attachment
Disorder. It is devastating and difficult to diagnose and
treat. If diagnosed and treated correctly, however, the rewards
Among the basic needs of a human being are safety, security,
and trust (see Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality,
2nd ed. 1954, 1970: Harper and Row, Publishers, New York).
An attachment disorder is formed when these needs are, not
only not met, but also ignored. Children who lack proper care
and attention during infancy and the first few years of life
have a high level of stress hormones. This affects the way
important elements that affect the way the nervous system
and the brain system react.
There are a number of factors as to why this
impairment occurs. Among them are premature birth, in utero
drug or alcohol trauma, unwanted pregnancy, separation from
the birth mother, postpartum depression in mother, abuse or
neglect the first few years of life, adoption trauma and hospitalization.
II. What are the Symptoms of Reactive
Some of the symptoms of Reactive Attachment
Disorder are: lack of impulse control, self destructive behaviors,
intense rage, destruction of property, preoccupation with
fire or evil, aggression towards others, inappropriate sexual
conduct, cruelty to animals, manipulating, bed-wetting, whiny,
demanding, lack of remorse or conscience, and controlling.
III. How is Reactive Attachment
Disorder (RAD) diagnosed?
RAD indications are similar to those of conduct
disorders and bi-polar disorder; important distinctions have
to be made. Doctors and clinicians have developed checklists
for parents and caregivers, and interview parents and caregivers,
in order to make a detailed and accurate diagnosis. These
checklists were developed by observing the behavior and the
symptoms of children who exhibited most or many of the above
IV. How is Reactive Attachment
RAD is treated with a behavioral modification
regimen for both parents and child. In some cases, biofeedback
has also had some degree of success. Coping techniques for
both parents and children are taught by trained coaches, therapists
and counselors. Various residential treatment programs have
shown some degree of success in treatment of RAD.
out more about Behavior Modification
Co-occurring disorders or comorbidities
are distinctly different disorders that can be found to exist
alongside RAD. The most common co-occurrences are substance
abuse, conduct disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Once frequently misdiagnosed as bi-polar, in truth the two
disorders don't necessarily co-exist. These co-occurring disorders
may be treated with medication and with therapy. In the case
of these co-occurring disorders, when the primary disorder
is treated successfully, in many cases the co-occurrences
are lessened. However, some behavior is indeed, by that time,
learned behavior, and behavior modification and therapy is
usually indicated for a longer time frame.
To find out which medications are used to
treat Substance Abuse, Conduct Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive
Treatment Results: A number of research studies
indicate that after intensive treatment, positive results
are indicated after a period of approximately one year. Intensive
treatment could mean training on a daily level for a period
of no less than two weeks to months and occasionally years.
There appears to be a higher success rate
(see Liz Randolf, 1997) when patients are placed in residential
treatment and parents are nearby to participate on a daily
basis. Studies have shown that after two weeks of intensive
therapy, patients still have shown improvements up to a year
after the training period had concluded.
A. Outpatient facilities have therapeutic staff on-hand to
offer therapy and support to patients on a part-time basis.
This can be helpful in the treatment of RAD but it is not
as optimum a treatment as a residential type treatment facility.
Professionals to Seek Out
out more about Educational Consultants
- See your physician or pediatrician
- Consult with your clergy to assist in spiritual
and practical guidance
- Consult with an educational consultant
to help you
find the right program for your child.
- Consult with a therapist or counselor.
- Consult with an Educational Advocate to
with your current school situation
- Consult with an Educational Consultant
the right program for your child.
- Inpatient: hospitalization
Outpatient facilities have therapeutic staff on-hand to
offer therapy and support to patients on a part-time basis.
Emotional Growth schools are highly structured environments
that stress academics and teach coping skills through the
use of conflict resolution. Children learn they can make choices
and learn to accept responsibility through the use of modeling
behavior and outdoor therapy. The length of stay is between
9 and 18 months, at which time they either return to the mainstream
or attend a boarding school, if possible. Parents are involved
with the school staff and the children throughout the child's
attendance at the school.
out more about Outdoor Therapy
Residential Boarding School
These schools are usually fully accredited schools with emotional
growth programs. They stress holistic education: growth of
the person through holding children responsible for their
actions. There is no rehabilitation or physicians on staff.
A Therapeutic Wilderness program does not necessarily have
academics; their goal can be to introduce the children to
a different role. These programs use Outdoor Therapy to help
build low self-esteem. They make obtainable goals for them
to reach. The programs vary but they are about 6 to 8 weeks
long. It is a very structured program with a goal of teaching
the children coping skills and raising their self-esteem.
Children go from this program to mainstream back into their
public school or attend a small structured boarding school.
more about Therapeutic Wilderness Programs
d. Residential Treatment School
A Residential Treatment Program or School provides a full
professional staff that includes therapists, psychologists,
and psychiatrists. They also have a small academic program.
Many of the children in the program have been recommended
there by mental health agencies that make the placements.
It is a highly structured environment whose emphasis is on
treatment and learning coping skills and independent living.
Chemical dependence education and rehabilitation is also provided.
Outdoor therapy is sometimes used to facilitate building social
skills and self-esteem. Recovery programs are also available.
Residential Treatment schools are secure schools.
out more about Residential Treatment Schools
program is right for my child?