Potential causes of RAD include frequent changes in primary caregiver, extended separation from the parent/primary caregiver, frequent moves and/or placements in foster care or institutions, traumatic experiences, undiagnosed painful illness such as colic, ear infections, etc., young or inexperienced mother with poor parenting skills, neglect, and abuse.
, and play therapy have been seen as effective in treating RAD as well as medication for symptoms (for anxiety, hyperactivity, etc.) There is a unique challenge for children with RAD in a school environment; while the school setting is meant to educate
, children with RAD are primarily concerned with internal feelings of safety, security and trust. There is also a heavier burden placed on the teacher due to a greater degree of dependency needed. Children with RAD have a difficult time self-regulating their behaviors and emotions, and have a difficult time forming reciprocal social relationships with others.
Strategies for teachers to use that are very important for RAD students:
Be consistent, predictable, and repetitive
Set clear, concise expectations
Set a classroom routine
Model and teach appropriate social behaviors
Maintain realistic expectations
Ignore behaviors that are not harmful to the child, property, or others.
Understand behaviors before punishing
Utilize other resources (school counselor/psychologist) to gain needed information to understand the effects of Reactive Attachment disorder on the child’s behavior and emotions
Help the child learn how to regulate his or her feelings and actions
Reactive Attachment Disorder is treatable. However, RAD is a disorder that children will most likely require ongoing treatment, there is no quick fix.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.) Text revision. Washington, DC: Author.
American academy of child and adolescent psychiatry. (2007). http://www.aacap.org/page.ww?name=Reactive+Attachment+Disorder§ion=Facts
Schwartz, E., and Davis, A. (2006). Reactive attachment disorder: Implications for school readiness and school functioning. Psychology in Schools, 43, 471-479.
Stoller, J.L. (2006). Parenting other people’s children: Understanding and repairing reactive attachment disorder. Vintage Press.