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Reactive Attachment
Disorder (RAD)

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a rare psychological disorder in which your child is unable to form healthy bonds with others, including you.

If your child suffers from RAD it means he has experienced some form of abuse or trauma in his early childhood.

Children from orphanages or who have been in various foster homes are more likely to have been unable to bond with a loved one and are at a higher risk of developing RAD.

Reactive Attachment Disorder

Some children with reactive attachment disorder act inappropriately with others, attempting to get any form of affection from anyone, even strangers.

Other children with this condition are unable to accept or show comfort or affection, even to familiar adults.

A child with reactive attachment disorder typically shows inappropriate social relatedness before the age of five. These children can become violent when they are distressed.

It is extremely difficult to raise a child who has RAD because, as much as you provide him with love and affection, that love and affection is not reciprocated.

It is possible for children who have experienced abuse and neglect to form healthy attachments to others, and researchers are not sure why some children with these experiences suffer from this disorder while others don't.

Some feel that a child's personality can make them more vulnerable to RAD if their first experiences are intense, hostile and stressful.

Although an abusive early childhood is not an automatic indicator that a child will develop reactive attachment disorder, RAD has never been reported in a child who has not experienced early trauma.

In a healthy environment, an infant becomes attached to a small group of people, mostly her parents, very early on in life.

When your baby's needs are met; when he is fed, comforted and changed he bonds with the person who has made him feel better... you.

When you raise your baby in a loving secure environment he is more likely to develop healthy social attachments.

That is why children in orphanages or foster care are more likely to develop RAD.

A baby who is never comforted or who does not regularly have her needs met may never bond with you.

If this bonding does not take place in infancy your child may never be able to engage in healthy social relationships later in life.

Your baby demonstrates a secure attachment to you when she feels comforted, is moderately distressed when you leave, and quickly re-establishes contact with you when you return.

Some children are described as avoidant. They don't approach you when you return, and may even avoid you. But this form of attachment is not as intense as RAD.

You can strengthen the bond with your baby and form healthy attachments with him when you...

  • Hold him often.
  • Pick him up when he is distressed.
  • Make eye contact and smile.
  • Talk and sing affectionately.

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