The Causes, Symptoms, and Effects of Reactive Attachment Disorder
If your child has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), you need to understand what to expect. Parenting a child with RAD requires extra patience and attention. Due to things beyond your control, they might not react the way you hope they will. If you have trouble getting through to your son with RAD, contact us today.
What is RAD?
RAD is a mental health disorder characterized by difficulty connecting with others. If you are adopting or raising a teenager with RAD, they come with a history that makes it challenging for them to relate to you. It can be tough to parent a child with RAD.
The signs and symptoms of RAD can be similar to those of other mental health conditions. Sometimes, RAD co-exists with other mental health conditions, and sometimes it stands alone. If you suspect that your teen has RAD, they should be examined by a medical professional for diagnosis.
Children and teens with RAD tend to have problems at home, in school, and friendships. Though they might seem friendly and outgoing upon first meeting them, deeper relationships tend to break down. Thankfully, the symptoms of RAD in teens can improve with the proper treatment.
Causes and Risk Factors
It is uncertain what exactly causes RAD in children. However, almost all children with RAD have experienced some form of neglect and/or abuse during early childhood. At a time when they relied on an adult the most, the adult wasn’t fully there for them.
Children learn to rely on their caregivers during early childhood and form deep emotional attachments to their caregivers. When their caregivers don’t provide for them, children don’t develop those attachments the way they should. Though some kids seem resilient and come out of abusive or neglectful situations well, others do not. Some kids who are neglected or abused in early childhood develop RAD and struggle with interpersonal connections.
Some common causes and risk factors leading to RAD include:
Not being fed reliably
Being left with a soiled diaper or clothes for a long time
Being left alone for long periods
Not being held or comforted when in distress
Being shuffled from home to home in orphanages or foster care
Having parents who are addicts
Having parents with severe mental health issues
Having family services involved in removing them from their family
Experiencing physical, verbal, or sexual abuse
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of RAD in teenagers can vary a little bit. Though, the signs and symptoms come back to a lack of connection in every situation.
Some common signs and symptoms of RAD in teens include:
Struggling to make eye contact
Not being physically affectionate with family but open with others
Being overly affectionate with strangers or acquaintances
Seeming very charming but fake
Being withdrawn and refusing to spend time with others
Engages in attention-seeking behavior
Purposefully annoying others
Being destructive to others’ property
Asking questions that they blatantly know the answer to
Reacting with more aggression than a situations warrants
Displaying emotions incongruous with the situation
The signs and symptoms of RAD can be very similar to those of other mental health conditions like ADHD, depression, anxiety, and autism. Also, teens with RAD can have other mental health conditions or struggles related to their upbringing. If your child displays emotions or behavior in line with RAD, and they were raised with neglect or abuse, consult a medical professional for treatment.
Effects of RAD
Children and teens need to learn to connect with others even if they were not raised with that connection. Otherwise, they can struggle with interpersonal relationships throughout their lives. If left untreated, the effects of RAD in teens can last long into adulthood.
Common effects of RAD in adulthood include:
Having marital or romantic issues
Having trouble with coworkers and supervisors
Being fired or missing out on promotions due to interpersonal issues
Lack of education due to disruption in school during adolescence
Legal problems resulting from anger issues
Developing addition problems
Developing anxiety or depression
Teens with RAD can be treated with outpatient therapy or with inpatient therapy. They can still live at home and go to school like usual, and they can see a therapist regularly to work on their attachment problems. If your home life is stable and your teen isn’t getting into trouble, outpatient therapy could be a good fit.
Residential treatment centers tend to be a better fit for teens with RAD who are getting into trouble at school, losing control of their emotions, or behaving in dangerous ways. The additional therapy and structure provided at an inpatient program can also be helpful for teens who have other mental health problems and RAD.
Call us at 866-640-1899 for more information about treatment for teen boys with RAD.