What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Reactive attachment disorder is a mental condition that occurs when a child does not develop a healthy body with a parent. It often occurs in children born to women who did not want them. When a biological parent is not available such as situations in which kids are in foster care, caretakers are responsible for treating those children as their own and helping them bond with adults. It can cause problems during the early childhood years and as the child ages. Doctors and other medical professionals can identify the signs of the disorder and suggest treatment options.

Primary Causes

When a baby cries, it’s a sign that he or she needs something. The child’s caretaker is responsible for identifying what the child needs and providing it. This simple interaction creates a connection in the child’s mind and helps the baby bond with that adult. The main cause of this disorder is a lack of care. If a child lives in a house with one or two parents who are addicts and constantly put their needs first, the child will not develop healthy attachments to anyone. The disorder affects children who do not form early attachments to others.

Signs and Symptoms

A common sign of the disorder is a lack of emotions. As children grow and develop, they learn how to exhibit responses based on their emotions. They smile when they are happy and cry when they’re sad. Kids who suffer from this disorder do not show any emotions because they learned in the past that it will not cause a reaction in those around them. According to the Mayo Clinic, other signs and symptoms of the disorder can include a lack of interest in others and/or simple activities and irritable behaviors. Some children may act withdrawn too.

Treatment Options

Professional treatment options can help kids cope with the disorder and help their guardians too. One option is family therapy, which requires that the guardians and other members of the family attend therapy sessions with the child. Play therapy can help younger children suffering from the disorder before or after they start school. These therapy sessions teach kids healthy ways to play and get them interacting with other children. Professionals may suggest that the guardians and other adults attend parenting classes too. These classes can help them learn how to cope with children suffering from reactive attachment disorder.

Possible Issues

It’s important that guardians get children with this disorder both diagnosed and treated to prevent any future problems that might occur. This disorder can cause different issues, including low self-esteem and troubles in their personal relationships. Adults and teenagers who have the disorder often suffer from low self-esteem, which changes the way they think about their bodies and minds and the way they view others. This can lead to depression and anxiety disorders too. The disorder can also make it difficult for teenagers to make friends and for adults to date and marry.

Kids learn by example and from the examples that their parents and other adults set for them. If those adults ignore or neglect the child, he or she can suffer from mental health problems. A common condition that can affect children who suffered from neglect before the age of five is reactive attachment disorder, which professionals can treat.