difficult child has Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Stella, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. Stella

    Stella New Member

    So I met with a lady from our local Family Support Agency recently. She had received a letter from the Clinic where I bring difficult child and it stated that they believe difficult child to have "Reactive Attachment Disorder in the context of complex neuro-developmental delays".

    Only once before about three months ago one of the docs made a throw away comment that difficult child may have "some type of attachment disorder". This is the only time I have heard mention of it. It seems to me that this is what they believe but they are witholding this information from me. They are very much in the "prefering not to label" side of the fence.

    Because this doctor mentioned attachment disodered once before I have read up a bit on it. I know it is mostly found in kids who have been adopted. I am difficult child's biological mom. Is it rare for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) to be found between biological mom and child?

    I worked full time up until a couple of years ago so for the first 9 years of her life difficult child was reared by me and her two grandmothers. I think they believe that this is a big part of the reason why difficult child has not attached to me properly. I also know that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can be caused by neglect and abuse. difficult child has certainly never been neglected and as far as i know there has been no abuse. difficult child never talks about feelings so if she had she probably wouldn't say. I have however brought her to differenty professionals over the years including play therapy and there has never been any evidence of abuse.

    I know plenty of other kids who have been looked after by grandparents and various other caregivers as their parents work and they have turned out fine? How is it that it could have had such a negative affect on my child?

    Also are the symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) the same as a kid on the spectrum? As it was only last week that difficult child's psychiatric was saying he "suspected Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)" only to change his mind a week later!!!

    If difficult child does have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is there ANYTHING i can do to make things better?? Any suggestions or help would be much appreciated?? :sad-very:
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    All diagnosis. are subjective. If you doubt the diagnosis., take it with a grain of salt. Sounds like she was living with people who loved her. She wasn't in daycare. She wasn't NOT loved. I would get another opinion. Bet it's a different one.
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    My understanding is that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a diagnosis made after all else has been ruled out. If Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is on the table, you need to make sure it's not that before settling on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    Are you living in the US? Has your difficult child been evaluated by a neuropsychologist or a developmental pediatrician? Is there an Autism Clinic associated with a children's or university teaching hospital where you could bring her?
  4. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Hi Stella.

    My difficult child has the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis, too. He is my bio son. I went to work when he was 3 months old, and his dad and brother cared for him at home til bio dad went to work each day, then grandma cared for him til I got home. When brother went on his annual vacation with my parents, we discovered who was doing the care-taking when he and bio dad were caring for wee difficult child - it was all on brother's shoulders, cause bio dad did neglect him while in his watch, which happened 8 hours daily from about 4 months to 6 months. Once I discovered it, tho, he hasn't been with bio dad again.

    Their theory is that between the inconsistent responses to his cries between 3 and 6 months (possibly earlier - I know brother did his best, but he was just 12), and difficult child being pre-wired to be different, by the time the neglect was caught, he was mobile, and too busy crawling, walking and running and learning all these other motor skills way early and not interested in the types of things that build attachments.

    Sadly, of all the diagnosis'es they've thrown at my difficult child, while I can't see HOW he can really be Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), his symptoms and behavior fit it. Nothing else he's diagnosis'ed with truly fits.

    So that's what I know about it. I think its rare to have a healthy bio child diagnosis'ed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but its my understanding that it does happen.

    Read up, and like all the other labels they throw at you, see how it sits in your mommy gut.

  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    in my humble opinion, working full time does not "create" Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), or kazillions of kids across the US would have it. I mean, think about it.
    I would definitely look into Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) first. The people who made those comments probably are not well versed in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) characteristics and can only offer what they know--which is limited.
    And yes, there is something you can do about it. Just spend time with-your difficult child. Make sure you have a good routine. It really makes a diff.
    Best of luck.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I read an article that warned that autistic spectrum disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) have the same exact symptoms. Be careful. Children who were loved in my opinion need to be double checked for autistic spectrum before they jump to the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) conclusion. I've also read (a lot) that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) should not be given to any child until EVERYTHING ELSE is ruled out (and I'd get more than one opinion). It is my own personal belief that it's nonsense that just because you work and the child has loving caregivers he can still develop Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). If that were the case, every child with two working parents would have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) because there are always inconsistencies in caregivers--I find it to be baloney (my opinion). I wouldn't buy it though. I think the label is thrown out there a lot when the doctors are at wit's end and can't come up with anything else.
    in my opinion get another opinion and look closely at Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These kids also act like they don't want to be touched, make poor eye contact and can rage. But they an be helped. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy for an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kid would be devestating!
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am sorry. I know how horrible it feels to be told your child has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    In our case we were told Wiz had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) because he had a botched surgery at 18 months and he had bad ear infections that needed tubes. By botched I mean it was urinary surgery to do 2 procedures and teh anesth doctor refused to listen and gave the wrong medications and Wiz WOKE UP during the surgery. At 18 months he could DESCRIBE the surgery - it was the first indication we had that anything went wrong!!

    It was a totally WRONG diagnosis for Wiz. He is an Aspie. The same things that they said were Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) were Asperger's and Sensory Integration Disorder. The botched surgery hurt, he needed therapy for that.

    2 working parents does NOT cause Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). In our case I was a student with a relative who left $ so I did not have to work and go to school with a young baby. Gotta love my Gma!! Wiz was in a good daycare with caregivers who really CARED for about 10 weeks. He kept getting sick and our doctor finally said he couldn't be in daycare, he needed a private sitter or a parent at home. His immune system couldn't handle it.

    So we found a neighbor of my parents to babysit. I babysat her kids when I was in high school She is one of the top 5 moms I have EVER had the honor and privilege to know. To this day I often approach new parenting situations with "What would M do?"

    She DOTED on Wiz. Loved him, taught him,cared for him in every way. For over 2 years!

    So NOWAY was Wiz Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). He was also FULLY attached to husband and I. We were very close, and in many ways still are close emotionally.

    ALWAYS follow your mommy instincts. YOU are with your child every day. The "experts" are with him maybe an hour a week, at MOST. YOU loved and care for this child every day of his life. saying he had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) because you worked is horse manure.

    And it is WRONG.

    Your son may have an attachment disorder, but I would be willing to bet not Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). And I don't bet.

    Keep pushing on the aspie diagnosis and treatment. See a neuropsychologist or have a multidisciplinary evaluation done. See an occupational therapist to check for sensory issues. MANY people with autistic spectrum disorders have significant sensory issues.

    With Wiz he really became more able to handle things when we did the brushing therapy for sensory integration disorder. ANd with my thank you early intervention on the sensory issues has helped him to the point that the docs all say he has sensory integration disorder and does NOT have any autistic spectrum disorder. And I REALLY thought he would have an aspie diagnosis - he had quite a few red flags.

    I guess what I mean from all of this is that just because some "expert" said it is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) doesn't make it so. Keep pushing, finding other experts to evaluate and try to help until YOU are satisfied that you have the RIGHT diagnosis and treatment.

    by the way, many Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) treatments are either highly controversial, banned in this country, or NOT recommended for kids who have other disorders. The treatment is very much not something for a child who does not have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). So be VERY sure about it before you begin any intensive therapy. Linda (timerlady) will have more info on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) when she is back around.

    Take some time and just BREATHE. Let yourself relax. Do something nice for yourself - you EARNED it listening to that diagnosis and researching it and wondering about it. It is a very scary diagnosis to face.

    Then start looking for a neuropsychologist and other docs to help!
  9. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Thanks all for your replies.

    Smallworld/MWM- no, I'm not in the US, I am in Ireland. The only place I have ever heard mention of a neuropsychologist before is on this board but I do intend to go down that path eventually and try and get a an evaluation.

    Sadly, of all the diagnosis'es they've thrown at my difficult child, while I can't see HOW he can really be Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), his symptoms and behavior fit it. Nothing else he's diagnosis'ed with truly fits.

    Shari, this is exactly how I feel at the moment. I am not fully convinced difficult child is on the spectrum. A lot of her behaviours seem to be directed at me. She doesn't trust me, she doesn't let me hug her or touch her, she sometimes screams at me "I wish granny was my mom" or " I want a new mom" and she never shoes any remorse for anything she says or breaks!!! I feel rejected by her, no matter how hard I try I can't seem to get through to her and it's heartbreaking. I read somewhere before that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids see love as a sign of weakness - how can i win????

    Despite all that, there are moments, for example, Sunday just gone, was Mother's Day here in Ireland. I woke up to difficult child bringing me breakfast in bed. She made some toast and used a scissors to cut out the toast in the shape of a heart :) She also had also bought me a huge card and a pair of pink fluffy slippers. Although I was delighted she did this, it didn't stop her tantrums throughout the day and she had such a rage last night that she threw my ipod on the ground and smashed it. I find myself questioning whether the card and the toast etc were to make me happy or just because it was Mothers Day and this is what she's MEANT to do. I really don't like that I am questioning the motives behind anything good she does....

    Terry - thanks for that link, I read that article. I found it very interesting and it does offer a bit of hope which is nice and some articles I have read on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) are truly terrifying and the prognosis is NOT good.
    It does say "Attachment disruptions and disorders often have similar symptoms of disorders such as ADHD or autism and may be misdiagnosed"
    How are we ever meant to truly know if we have the right diagnosis???

    Susiestar - difficult child DOES have sensory problems. So if she does have a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) - she is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) with sensory issues!! Thanks for the advice about not starting any intenstive therapy until I know for sure. I have read somewhere that therapy for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) will be much more likely to work before the age of 12. If she does have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) -this means i have one CRUCIAL year to get things back on track. I don't want to rush into though in case like you said... it may be the wrong diagnosis!!!

    Take some time and just BREATHE. Let yourself relax. Do something nice for yourself - you EARNED it listening to that diagnosis and researching it and wondering about it. It is a very scary diagnosis to face.

    Thank you for that, I have to admit that i am TERRIFIED by what i have read on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and am torturing myself with fears that difficult child is going to grow up to be a sociopath and do something awful. Sometimes I think too much knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    In saying that, a poster on here before said "prepare for the worst but hope for the best" and I suppose that's what i am trying to do by educating myself on the possibilties.

    Thanks again.

  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    stella, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids don't like to be touched or hugged. It's a sensory thing. They don't like eye contact either. Raging is also common with their level of frustration. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) doesn't make any sense, but I'll trust your mommy gut.
  11. Stella

    Stella New Member

    i'm glad you trust my mommy gut MWM because I don't. I really don't know what to believe.

    Ok, sensitive question here but what if there was some sort of sexual abuse that I do not know anything about. I know it's a horrible thought but right now every possiblity is running through my head.

    How would we as mother's ever know if our child didn't speak up about it or if they were too young to articulate it when it happened or even didn't remember it?? Would it come out eventually or would some professional have picked up on it by now???

    Even the thought of it is making me sick.:(
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I think you would have noticed a sudden change in behavior.
    When did these behaviors begin?

    Also, in regard to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), the not wanting to be touched part, and the lack of remorse are very Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). They can be taught, though. FYI.
  13. Stella

    Stella New Member

    difficult child's behaviours have more or less always been there but have progressed as she has gotten older. They behaviours weren't sudden but have been at there worst during the last year.

    The symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) really are so similar to Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) that it's frightening. I'm going to do my utmost to track down a Neuro-psychiatric. The saga continues....!!
  14. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Good luck, Stella.

    Agree or not, I remember very well how bad that diagnosis hurt.

    Keep us posted.
  15. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    I haven't read the previous replies.....sorry if I'm being repetitive.

    There are very very specific criteria for a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder. Very specific criteria. A psychiatrist with a specialty in this area (i.e. a practice with lots of attachment disordered kids, practice in RTCs, group homes, etc, with the main population of adopted/foster/neglected or abused children). This diagnosis isn't given out lightly nor should be.


    Additionally, there is a spectrum, if you will, from mild attachment/adoption issues to full blown reactive attachment disorder.

    The tweedles were diagnosis'd with this disorder before the age of 5; the gov't sat on this information until I went to court to obtain all of their medical/psychiatric records. There needs to be multiple changes in primary caregivers (i.e. many foster situations for long periods of time); not daycare or grandma or grandpa stepping in to help a parent during work or for a week or two.

    Steph, I'm sharing this with you because you need to know the facts. If you head down the road of attachment therapy & difficult child isn't attachment disordered you've lost possibly years of treatment. The prognosis is poor at best.

    Of late, I've seen this diagnosis handed out in very inappropriate settings & it angers me for the child. I could see the attachment disordered children when I'd visit wm or kt at the p-hospital or Residential Treatment Center (RTC). You just know which kids have it & which ones have other issues.

    by the way, if there is some level of sexual abuse in the past you're possibly dealing with PTSD or severe or complex PTSD versus Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    I hope this helps clear your mind a bit.

  16. Alttlgabby

    Alttlgabby New Member

    Oh, and there are diff kinds of attachment disorder. Actually, your experience could fit into one of these. This is a really interesting article, especially since they did mention similarities to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD):

    Terry, thank you so much for that link! I thought maybe difficult child 1 had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but some of the symptoms just didn't seem to fit. She is being tested for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) because we know there is a history of alcohol use while Mom was pregnant with her, however, the secure attachment symptoms fit her to a T as well as a lot of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) symptoms. We worry about the stranger issues with her. She will talk to ANYONE!!! She will try to touch them, play with their hair, etc... She also didn't hug us at all when she first came to us a year ago. She got to where she would hug once in a great while if she saw her sister hugging us, and has just recently gotten into giving us hugs on her own every great while. She was also VERY withdrawn when she came to us, but about 3 to 4 weeks ago she did a complete 180! She wouldn't talk when asked something. Would just clam up! Now, she will answer us. She wouldn't talk much at all, but now talks more. So, now I am wondering if this couldn't possibly be part of an attachment disorder for her and she is becoming trusting of us since she has been with us about a year. We set bounderies and limits for her, which she didn't have before. She knows she is taken care of and loved and doesn't have to fear being yelled and screamed at and that she gets to keep her belongings without them being sold off to pay the electric bill. I remember the time when her Mom and Dad (the girls are my bio nieces) stayed with us for about 4 months when she was about 2. She didn't speak at all. She would just look at you with no expression on her face. Her Mom would put her and her little sister in a port a crib and throw bottles at them while she would sit in a chair and watch tv all day! So, I could very well understand if she does have something like this. She has some other tendencies that I see as well, but are not consistent with SAD. She picks her lip and I think she is hypersensitive (?)because she can pick her lip or her skin until it bleeds and says it doesn't hurt! Yikes!
  17. PorcupineWhisperer

    PorcupineWhisperer New Member

    I think one of the reasons that people confuse Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids is that both disorders at their base are disorders of social relatedness. I think a core difference bettween the two is intent and intesnity. An Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) child may say hurtful things, but generally the desire is not to hurt, but just not getting the subtle social cues. A Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child on the other hand may say hurtful things, but that's his goal - to hurt. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids typically enjoy the discomfort they cause and the power that that discomfort gives them (this is of cousre dependent on how severe the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) symptoms are).

    The psychiatrist of the kid that I wrote about in my post recently said he thought difficult child had Aspergers. I sat down with both the mom and difficult child and we compared the symptom list for each. While there were some similarities, there was no stealing, lying, fire setting, annimal crulety etc related to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). For them Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was the overwhelming diagnosis.

    Good luck in you search for answers. :)
  18. compassion

    compassion Member

    difficult child's casmanagre today said difficult child sounded Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Yes and that is much like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Compassion