Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is sometimes found in children who have experienced a severe disruption in the bonding process between themselves and their primary parent. Trust and attachment are developed within the first five years of life when a child is consistently soothed, comforted and interacted with by a loving caretaker. During this process, they also naturally learn how to regulate their emotions, practice empathy and develop healthy attachments with others. RAD children have difficulty doing these things and will struggle with the consequences their whole lives unless they receive intervention.
Who Is At Risk?
Children who are adopted or abused are at more risk for developing RAD, as are children who suddenly lose a parent to death, divorce, abandonment or illness. Although RAD can technically be triggered by either parent, it is usually the actions of the mother that affect children more. While researchers continue to study why some children are more susceptible to reactive attachment disorder than others in similar situations, they agree that unless an individual receives intervention, the condition will continue to inhibit healthy development through adulthood.
What Are the Signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder?
The two types of Reactive Attachment Disorder are inhibited and disinhibited.
- Inhibited – Children presenting inhibited RAD are usually more emotionally detached and resistant to physical affection or comfort. Inhibited RAD is also characterized by social avoidance and a lack of empathy.
- Disinhibited – Children with disinhibited RAD are often socially indiscriminate or inappropriately familiar with attachment figures outside the family group. Disinhibited RAD kids also struggle with feeling empathy.
During the adolescent years, kids with RAD are more prone to unhealthy relationships, sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, self-harm and extreme defiance. Because RAD kids do not trust the sincerity of the love and affection they are offered, they often manipulate the situation to remain in control. This is confusing and discouraging for parents who don’t understand why none of their disciplinary tactics seem to work. Even the most loving and attentive parents can find themselves unable to help their RAD teen without outside intervention. While outpatient and family therapy can be an effective option, some teens need the full time guidance and coaching a program such as a therapeutic boarding school can provide.
What Is The Next Step?
Teens with reactive attachment disorder can greatly benefit from the round the clock coaching and care offered by a residential facility. As teens are immersed in a therapeutic environment, they can practice the skills they need for a healthy and happy life. Reactive attachment disorder is not considered curable, although individuals can learn to effectively manage the disorder through early intervention and lead successful lives.
Sundance Canyon Academy is a therapeutic boarding school located in northern Utah, specializing in helping troubled teen boys with reactive attachment disorder. Through a holistic, relationship based approach, rather than behavior modification, teens learn how to handle their day to day challenges and successfully transition home. To learn more about our program or for a consultation about your son, contact us at 866-678-2425.