Reactive Attachment Disorder

The bond between a child and their primary caregiver is one of a kind. Parents dream of the connection they will have with their child that will never be able to be broken. But for some young children who have not had this deep bond with a loved one due to separation or abuse, Reactive Attachment Disorder may be a resulting issue.

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

The Mayo Clinic describes Reactive Attachment Disorder as the psychological disorder that may result from unhealthy relationships with caregivers. Children have obvious physical needs such as clothing, food, and shelter, but they are also in need of loving care and connections with those around them.  Often children who have been in foster care or an orphanage suffer from this disorder due to lack of meaningful connections with adults. Although it is thought that children are rather resilient and able to recover from most occurrences during early childhood, there are some situations in which children are unable to bounce back on their own. The Village Behavioral Health describes the mindset of these children to be that his or her own needs do not matter.

What does Reactive Attachment Disorder look like?

Symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder may include a detached or withdrawn personality and often the inability to accept comforting actions by others according to WebMD. Although the most common symptoms are those pertaining to connections and relationships with others, there are other indicators such as the child spends a lot of time comforting him or herself, not playing or interacting with toys, or insensitive to being left alone according to HelpGuide.org. Children are ultimately unable to form healthy relationships with those around them.

How can you help?

Helping a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder can be overwhelming and challenging. Seeking assistance from a trained professional is highly encouraged. The treatment often includes both the child and the caregivers. Establishing a healthy connection between both the child and the caregivers is very important. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry encourages treatment as early as possible to ensure a successful outcome.

Loving a child who has Reactive Attachment Disorder is no easy task and is often stressful to both the caregiver and the child. All children, however, deserve to be loved and cared for by the adults in their lives. If this article describes a child in your life, seek help today.

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