What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?
What is Reactive Attachment Disorder? RAD is a condition in which individuals have difficulty forming loving, lasting
relationships. Let me tell you; this is HARD. Seemingly, on the outside, things look great. However, at home, it is like living in a nightmare. Sadly, this is a nightmare you do not ever wake up from. Sometimes, it can be manageable. For instance, medication for moods and sleep can help sometimes. However, their body starts building resistance to medications, so trial and error become the norm.
Some General Traits
Often have a nearly complete lack of ability to be genuinely affectionate with others.
Typically fail to develop a conscience and do not seem to trust.
Do not allow people to be in control of them due to this trust issue.
They can be surface compliant for weeks if no loving relationship is involved.
However, with strangers, they can be incredibly charming and appear loving.
Uneducated adults misinterpret this as the child trusting or caring for them. If they cannot trust and love their own family that loves them, they will not trust and love a casual acquaintance.
They do not think and feel like an average person.
Some famous people with RAD
Edgar Allen Poe
Isolated type, Predominant feeling is Sad.
1. no friends
2. no touch
3. verbally compliant, actually defiant
Evasive type, Predominant feeling is Fear.
Defiant type, Predominant feeling is Rage.
1. act crazy
2. constant noise
Any of the following conditions occurring to a child under 36 months of age puts a child at high risk for developing RAD:
~Maternal ambivalence toward pregnancy
~In-utero trauma, drugs, alcohol exposure
~Sudden separation from the primary caregiver
~Undiagnosed or painful illness such as colic or ear infections
~Inconsistent or inadequate daycare
~Chronic maternal depression
~Several moves and/or placements
~Unprepared mothers with poor parenting skills
Attachment Disorder Symptoms in Children
Superficially engaging & charming
Lack of eye contact on parents’ terms
Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers
Not affectionate on parents’ terms
Destructive to self, others, and material things (accident prone)
Cruelty to animals
Lying about the obvious (crazy lying), Confabulation
No impulse controls
Lack of cause and effect thinking
Lack of conscience
Abnormal eating patterns
Poor peer relationships
Preoccupation with fire
Preoccupation with blood & gore
Persistent nonsense questions & chatter
Inappropriately demanding & clingy
Abnormal speech patterns
Triangulation of adults
False allegations of Abuse
Presumptive entitlement issues
Parents appear hostile and angry
Attachment Disorder Symptoms in Infants
~Does not use crying appropriately to get someone to address needs
~Often does not settle when Mom meets needs
~Overreacts or often startles to touch, sound, and/or light
~Listlessness with no medical reason
~Limited holding onto or reaching for a caregiver
~Lack of appropriate stranger anxiety between 6 and 9 months of age
~Shows minimal interest in interacting with people
~Does not smile back or respond with activity to smites or baby talk
~Often does not follow human movement with their eyes
~Avoids eye contact
~ self-abusive behavior
~Is resistant to cuddling
“Experience changes the brain,” Bruce Perry, M.D,
“Attachment is at the heart of all human endeavors.” Bruce Perry, M.D.
“Traditional therapy is useless for severely traumatized people, but especially children because it does not reach the parts of the brain that were most impacted by trauma.” Bessel van der Kolk. M.D.
Complex (reactionary mind/brain stem) Survival mode
Fight – Defensive, and tantrums, argues, negative.
Flight – Runs away, hypervigilant, stress-filled, anxious
Freeze- Shuts down emotions, shuts down learning, disassociates
Talking is the first area in which a child must gain self-control to begin healing.
I don’t know
Not accepting responsibility
Consequences vs. Punishment
Punishment turns thoughts to the outside of the child.
Consequences turn their thoughts inside.
Children must be kept close until they no longer need an audience to manipulate.
Flipping the bird
The child must be 100% responsible for cleaning up their excretions after age five.
On the one hand, you can’t make them eat it. On the other hand, you can’t make them stop eating either. Sadly, they have to learn to control themselves. A parent’s obligation as the nurturer is to provide nutritious meals three times a day.
Eating too much
Eating weird things
Friends and Family:
Relationships must begin between the mother and child. Second, generalize to the father. Third, to the family. Fourth, to the community. Lastly, to the world.
Abusing other kids
Prescribing the Problem:
When it’s not harmful to the child, pick your battles. For instance, one avenue of intervention is prescribing the problem.
Biting nails, lips, toes
Children must sleep 10 to 12 hours a night with no light in the room. On the other hand, adults need to sleep 8 hours a night with no light on in the room.
Setting alarm off
Not going to bed
Noise at night
Getting them up in the am and dressed
~Restitution for stolen or intentionally stolen items should be double the item’s replacement value.
~It is the child’s responsibility to fill in the hole they dig with their inappropriate behaviors. The way they fill it in is by paying back with their time, their talent, or their energy.
From Others Toward Parents:
~Sometimes, we have to say No
~No, I won’t put my child in harm’s way by giving them freedoms they can’t handle.
~Parenting too tough, Nazis
~Not strict enough
~Munchhausen, Histrionic, Borderline, etc.
~ Don’t like/love child
~ love him more
Realize this is a very painful situation. If you are on the Mom’s side, you are on the child’s side. Sadly, if you take the child’s side against the Mom, they both lose.
Equally important, listen with open ears and hearts. For instance, you should not judge or be critical. Again, condemning, criticizing, or blaming Does Not Help to Lift the burden, don’t load it down.
Make short, loving phone calls (occasionally) to listen and encourage, not to advise, gather information, or “check on them”- Tell her she can chat whenever she needs an ear.
Finally, do Not give unasked-for advice.
Take all information as confidential.
It is beneficial to educate yourself about Attachment Disorder.
**** Do not say, ‘Let me know if I can help.’ Do something to help.****
1. Take her to lunch or dinner.
2. Rent a funny movie and share it.
3. Send her flowers, chocolate, or cards with love and a smile.
4. Bring her some dinner or baked goods,
5. Hugs are always heading. Moms need 12 a day minimum.
6. Pray for them.
Run errands to help lessen the load,
Take the kids somewhere for the afternoon. Be sure she knows it’s because she deserves a break and not because she can’t handle it.
Consider giving her a gift certificate for a massage, manicure, or hair salon.
Give her Mozart’s music or some other calming or uplifting tunes.
Give her a good book.
Buy her bubble bath and watch the kids for an hour or so while she soaks to music.
Remind her of her special traits and talents.
Tell the child often, in front of her, how lucky they are to have a mom like this.
Never show up without calling to check for an appropriate time to visit.
Never tell her to “Just love the child more.” If you already have, beg forgiveness for not understanding.