teen boy and mom

May 21, 2020

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a very common diagnosis among children who come from adopted or divorced backgrounds. One of the key causes is experiencing neglect or separation during the early years. Those with this disorder may have difficulty showing affection or forming healthy parent-child attachments. They may also show the following signs:

  • Aversion to touch or physical affection.
  • Control issues.
  • Anger problems.
  • Difficulty showing affection.
  • An underdeveloped conscience (an inability to show guilt, regret, or remorse).

Do you suspect that your child has an attachment disorder? Maybe you come across the term while reading material about the side effects of foster care, adoption, or divorce for children? Perhaps a therapist mentioned it. Whatever your reason is for looking into this disorder, know that you’ve come to the right place. At Turn-About Ranch, we’ve treated many struggling teens with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Here is what we can tell you from our experience.

Why Do Children Develop Attachment Disorders

child holding parents hand
Attachment disorders occur when individuals have experienced neglect, abandonment, or separation from a primary caregiver. This could be a biological parent, a relative they were dependent on, or a foster parent. Often, these situations happen in foster care, adoption situations, and divorces.

Example 1: Foster Care

Often, this is an unstable environment where the child is already separated from their biological parents. Although they may be in one home long-term (at least one year), many foster children live with the knowledge that they may not be in the same place tomorrow. Some children may spend as little as a week or two in one home before being transferred to another. A child may find it difficult to allow themselves to become attached to a caregiver when it’s possible that they may have to move on one day.

Example 2: Adoption

In adoption circumstances, some children may have been adopted from foster care or other such institutions and already have a history of instability in their caregiver relationships. Those adopted directly from biological parents still experience some form of separation.

Example 3: Divorce

In divorce situations, children may experience seeing one parent less often. They may also experience a sense of separation due to custody arrangements or distance.

Does Your Teen Have RAD?

While we can’t diagnose the condition here, we can give you a good idea of whether or not your teen may have RAD. Take our quiz to find out if RAD is a possibility for your teen.

Treatment Options

As a parent, Reactive Attachment Disorder can be heartbreaking. After all, you just want to love your child and build healthy, natural attachments with them. To have a diagnosis that pretty much says that your child can’t do that with you can be heard to hear. Please know that there is hope and there is treatment available.

Talk to a therapist who has experience with children and youth struggling with RAD. Through individual therapy, your teen will be able to dig deep into the underlying issues that cause their condition. They’ll be able to address them and learn how to cope better. Through family therapy, your teen can practice developing appropriate attachments and your family unit can start building the trust that is needed. If your child’s RAD symptoms have become explosive and intrusive on your family’s life, residential therapy may be a good option.

How Can Turn-About Ranch Help?

teen girl with horse

Our residential teen facility has decades of experience working with teens who have Reactive Attachment Disorder. Our onsite therapists and team will work with your teen and provide individual, group, and family therapy. Our horsemanship program will also provide equine therapy to help foster your teen’s ability to build connections and genuine relationships. We can also provide our recommendation for therapists who specialize in RAD for your teen’s post residency treatment.

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Turn-About Ranch

280 N 300 E.
Escalante, UT 84726
(800) 842-1165