diagnosis I didn't know about until today


New Member
My 14 yr old son (difficult child 1) has been diagnosis'd Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)/mild & intermittent. His first diagnosis was Generalized Anxiety Disorder when he was nine. Two years later, when I pressed a psychiatrist at a psychiatric hospital, he shrugged and said our kid was a tough case to diagnosis, that he could be ODD, Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) as well. I read the diagnosis in a social worker's case report on us (long story, I'll skip it for now) but I don't know who assigned it to him.

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? I seem to recall people posting about it that had adopted kids from abusive/neglectful birth homes. That doesn't describe our situation. He is my biological son, second child, normal intelligence, text book pregnancy and unmedicated delivery, hit his mile stones on time, had plenty of attention and cuddling as an infant. I nursed him for the first three months before switching to bottle feeding (so my mother in law, who lived with us, could care for him as well). There were no violent situations or illness in the family. My in-laws lived with us and were enthusiastic and affectionate grandparents who doted on the kids.

Compared to his older sister, he was much clingier as a toddler and it was very hard for me to leave him with a sitter. He had to be pried off me, or worse, I had to sneak off while he was distracted. The caregiver, who ran a licensed home day care, told me that he was fine five minutes after I left, but the act of my leaving continued to upset him for a very long time. He did better in preschool but occasionally had periods of separation anxiety (particularly around the time his grandfather passed away).

He has always behaved well in school and his classmates and teachers genuinely like him, but at home, with me in particular, he is rude, oppositional, manipulative and very aggressive with his younger sister...he is being considered for a spot in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) five hours away and I would like him to go, his dad is a little less sure...the school district is willing to pay for this! That almost never happens in our town, you have to fight tooth and nail for any services.

What works for kids diagnosis'd with-Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

There are very specific criteria for the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) to be made & it's never a diagnosis given lightly. On what basis was this diagnosis made? It doesn't sound like much.

Having said that, I wouldn't even address this diagnosis if it was buried that deep in a report. Has this diagnosis been made to "help" the admittance to Residential Treatment Center (RTC)?

Can't imagine what is going on.


Well-Known Member
I'm with Linda. Who diagnosed him and why did they come up with the diagnosis? Was it a Psychiatrist (with the MD) that you saw? in my opinion it sounds unlikely given his history. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is caused by a lack of bonding in the early years. Remember, every diagnosis is only the diagnosticians best guess. If you're not satisfied, look elsewhere. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy is very intensive and controversial.


New Member
You know, it's possible that someone did give him that diagnosis to grease his admittance to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC). I'm going to call the SW to ask who made that diagnosis, because it's the first time I've heard of it.

I did notice on a website that listed possible Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) causes, maternal depression. That would apply to me, but my diagnosis is dysthymia, I've been on medication, never hospitalized, and periodically have been in talk therapy. I'm currently doing a DBT skills group with my older daughter who is diagnosis'd MDD, and I'm finding DBT to be very helpful in combatting my own "learned helplessness."


New Member
It is rare for a child to have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) who basically came from a good, loving home and was not a premie. The two most common causes are an infant with sensory issues who cannot be held and a mother suffering from post-partum depression who could not hold her infant. I'm sure there may be some other causes but they are bound to be few and far between.

That being said and having a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child, I would question this diagnosis. Quite honestly, it is an ugly disorder. As strange as it sounds, I would much prefer my daughter to be bipolar than Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). There are medications for bipolar. There are none for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) frequently turns into some type of personality disorder as the child matures. The therapy for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is long, intensive and frequently unsuccessful. Some of the therapies for it are, as was mentioned above, controversial.

I hope the diagnosis was given to help your son gain admittance to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or was done by someone who is not really qualified to make such a diagnosis. I wish you luck.