What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can result when a child fails to form a normal attachment to others in the early months and years of his/her life. It has long been recognized that an attachment disorder can result from abuse or neglect. Research (Verney and Kelly, 1981) suggests that attachment begins in utero, affected by neurochemicals and hormones, along with the mother's attitude about pregnancy and whether she used substances. There are also certain psychiatric diagnoses in children, such as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD ), which can increase a child's risk for developing RAD. Often children with RADare prone to impulsive, disruptive, and violent behaviors. Children and adolescents diagnosed with RAD generally exhibit many of the following behaviors:
 
♦  Distant behaviors  
♦  Failure to gain weight
♦  Unaffectionate toward others
♦  Difficulty being confronted
♦  Display flat affect
♦  Preoccupied and/or defiant behaviors
♦  Detached or unresponsive behaviors
♦  Inhibition or hesitancy in social interactions
♦  Overly or inappropriately social or familiar with strangers
 
While there is no cure, per se, for Reactive Attachment Disorder, it can be successfully managed with the right treatment and living situation for the child. There is no psychotropic medication that is specifically prescribed for RAD, but it often coexists with other conditions, such as PTSD or Bipolar Disorder, which can benefit from medication. An important component of the treatment plan is the support of a family who is knowledgeable about this condition and its manifestations, and is willing and able to provide the firm limits, boundaries and structure necessary to contain the tremendous agitation and behavioral problems which children with RAD may demonstrate.