Rambling Thoughts on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD, as those of us in the know call it, has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m working on a RAD course to instruct professionals how to treat families of RAD kids.

Police officer

I’ve been reading articles and web pages till my head hurts. I’m surprised I’m not dreaming about kids with RAD behaviors. I think I’ve opened a can of worms, at least I feel something crawling around in my brain.  LOL

Angry Kids

One thing I did find out that I’m willing to bet none of you know.  There are two attachment disorders and I’m not talking about the clinical diagnosis of “inhibited and Disinhibited.” I’m talking about RAD and AD or simply attachment disorder.

Differentiating between the two is a bit amusing. The AD has more symptoms than the RAD. Oh, anything and everything is dumped into the AD diagnosis.  I think I counted over 100 behaviors that the “professionals” call AD.

RAD has much more stringent behaviors. These include unable to be comforted, lack of connection with caregivers. I saw a post from the Cleveland Clinic dated 2018 about RAD and I’m posting it below:

What is reactive attachment disorder (RAD)?

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a condition in which an infant or young child does not form a secure, healthy emotional bond with his or her primary caretakers (parental figures).

Children with RAD often have trouble managing their emotions. They struggle to form meaningful connections with other people. Children with RAD rarely seek or show signs of comfort and may seem almost fearful of their caretakers, even in situations where the current parent figures seem quite loving and caring. These children are often irritable or sad, and may report feeling unsafe and/or alone.

Who is likely to have reactive attachment disorder (RAD)?

Reactive attachment disorder is most common among children between 9 months and 5 years who have experienced physical or emotional neglect or abuse. While not as common, older children can also have RAD since RAD sometimes can be misdiagnosed as other behavioral or emotional difficulties. Children may be more likely to develop RAD if they:

  • Have had many different foster care providers or spent time in an orphanage
  • Were taken away from primary caretakers after forming a healthy bond
  • Have had multiple traumatic losses early in life

If you want to see more of the RAD vs. AD diagnoses check out the Cleveland Clinic review of a 2018 report.

My child had RAD and there’s no doubt.  She started out with trauma and just kept having traumatic things happen to her. There have been times when I felt that she was a magnet for bad things. Most of which probably weren’t her fault, they just kept happening. It started in Chittagong, Bangladesh, continued in Calcutta, India, was reinforced in Utah, and finally in Arizona.

She was never diagnosed with anything specific, but knowing her background once she felt safe enough to tell me her history, I can confirm that she has RAD.  She still has RAD and she just turned legally 51; you have to know the judge in India gave her a birthday of February 16 (the day she went to court) and said she looked 10 Years old, so her birthday became February 16, 1970.

I always say her age as legally, because we know she had to be 3 or 4 years older when she came. It was a fluke of an adoption story. If you want to read the whole crazy story of my daughter’s adoption, you can read find it in my book “My Adoption Life: Living with a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Child” on Amazon.

My Adoption Life

FYI: I’m doing a podcast that will be live on Tuesday.  I’ll be making the announcement that day, when it will be available and where you can find it to listen to it.

I hope your Easter is a blessed day.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

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