Understanding the Symptoms: Reactive Attachment Disorder
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
Signs and Symptoms You Should Know
Are you concerned that a child in your care, perhaps from a broken family, a foster child, or an adopted child, may have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? Children need sensitive and responsive caregivers to develop secure attachments. RAD arises from a failure to form normal attachments to primary caregivers in early childhood. Such a failure could result from severe early experiences of neglect, abuse, abrupt separation from caregivers, frequent change of caregivers, or a lack of caregiver responsiveness to a child's communicative efforts.
Symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder may include:
The core feature is severely inappropriate social relating by affected children. This can manifest itself in two ways:
- Indiscriminate and excessive attempts to receive comfort and affection from any available adult, even relative strangers (older children and adolescents may also aim attempts at peers).
- Extreme reluctance to initiate or accept comfort and affection, even from familiar adults, especially when distressed.
Other symptoms may include:
- Self-endangering behavior
- Uncommunicative with unfamiliar adults
- Willingness to go off with relative strangers
- Excessive clinging
- Vigilance/hyper compliance
- Having a discriminated, preferred adult
- Social and emotional reciprocity
- Checking back after venturing away from the care giver
- Seeking comfort when distressed
- Unpredictable or hostile relationships with caregivers in the early years
- Markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts (e.g., the child is avoidant or unresponsive to care when offered by caregivers or is indiscriminately affectionate with strangers).
- Poor social interaction with peers
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