New Here - & Qs on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Alli1, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. Alli1

    Alli1 New Member

    Hi all,

    I have just had a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) for my almost 8 yr old (other child is 6, no problems).

    I took her in because after over 2 years following her father's death, still lots of behavioral issues.

    One of the things I've read is that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is caused by abuse at the home - but that is not the case here, so now I'm freaked out that dr will haul me off for abuse.

    She was very, very, very close to her father.

    Anyone heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) happening withOUT abuse?? Also, she always had a lot of these emotional symptoms, since babyhood, I just assumed she'd grow out of it - never did. Other child is totally different!

    Could dr be wrong??

    Alli1 - single mom of 2 girls
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Oh yes, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can happen without abuse. It can also be misdiagnosed.

    Has she always lived with you?

    Was her father's death sudden and unexpected? She may still be consumed with grief and fear and unable to move forward in her emotional development, especially since she seems to have had difficulty emotionally. Has she had grief counseling?
  3. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    I have a friend who has a 7 year old boy with the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis and to my knowledge he has never been abused. Dont worry about the doctor hauling you off for abuse, he wont!! There are plenty of diagnosis's with the underlying cause being abuse or neglect, and alot of the children who receive those diagnosis's were not abused or neglected. My difficult child has a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, where the main underlying cause is abuse or neglect and believe me she was not by any means abused or neglected. In fact quite the opposite, she has been the sole focus of my life for 17 years!!! I dont know much about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but others will be along very soon with their words of wisdom.

    Just wanted to say "Hi" and "Welcome", you have found a wonderful place to be. Everyone here is so kind and knowledgeable. You will receive lots of support and sound advise. Hang in there and God bless. :)
  4. Hi Alli,

    I just wanted to say welcome! You have landed in a very loving and caring place!

    It's good that you are getting your daughter help. My childrens father and my husband of 16 years died unexpectedly in 2005. My difficult child son was 9 and my easy child daughter was 12 (he died 11 days before her 13th b-day). Anyway, my kids were very close to their dad too - he was their primary caregiver while I worked outside the home for awhile (he was home because of a back injury) and did everything with them.

    I difficult child had certain problems before his dad died (including signs I didn't see at the time, but looking back now see), but I believe that his death was the catalyst that sent my son on the journey that will affect him the rest of his life. My difficult child has had alot of problems with grief too. One of his diagnoses is actually pathological grief - which is unresolved grief. His dad's death is a very touchy subject for him, and during counseling sessions usually can't handle very much along the subject without shutting down.

    If your daughter isn't in some kind of counseling, I would encourage you to get her into counseling. I would also make sure that your 6 year old gets into counseling too, she may seem somewhat fine now, but it's better safe than sorry regarding the grief.

    My heart goes out to you and your children.

  5. Alli1

    Alli1 New Member

    Hi and thank you for your welcomes.

    I took her to a counselor, that's who gave me the diagnosis (after one session) although she said she exhibits symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (of course I ran home and looked it up).

    I have to admit, we have always had "issues" since she was young - very defiant and sensitive to every criticism, no common sense, repeats sentences. (Minor stuff, I'm aware).

    She has always lived with us, yes, and her father took his own life so that was very unexpected.

    She has never seen a counselor before because the one I saw previously said "you are the best counselor for your child" which I understand in a way, but it obviously meant that for two years my child wasn't getting proper help. :(

    I'm glad I won't be hauled away. I'm sure I'm not a perfect mom... but if my other one seems 'fine'? It can't all be me?

    Anyway I can see that I am not alone and that so many are hanging on despite even greater I have to try not to go insane while waiting for her to get better. She will get better, right??

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I did not read the other responses, but I've adopted four children, and I want to give you my opinion. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) doesn't make sense in your case. I had a son with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) that we adopted at age eleven. He did not ONLY have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). That rarely happens. They also suspect he suffers from fetal alcohol effects and possible other brain damage due to his birthmother's alcohol consumption while pregnant. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is supposed to be the LAST thing diagnosed after everything else has been ruled out. Has he seen a neuropsychologist? I would be soooooooo very leery of that diagnosis since this child was nurtured since birth. If it were me, it I would not buy it and would move on to another professional with more credentials. Second, even third opinions, never hurt and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy will NOT help if the child actually has an evolving mood disorder or another disability causing the behavior. I would only trust a neuropsychologist or a Psychiatrist (with the MD). If you saw one, I'd see another one.
    Attachment disorder is classic with kids who are shuffled around from caretaker to caretaker after birth and do not attach to anyone because they can't--nobody feeds them when they cry, nobody plays with them, nobody holds them. Some extremist positions is that a child who is adopted at birth still misses mommy from the womb (I think it's nonsense, but others do not). In what way was your child neglected to this extent?
    I'd go for another opinion yesterday.
    Every diagnosis is just the professionals best guess. None can be confirmed by blood tests. Biology/genetics can tell you tons. Good luck.
  7. Alli1

    Alli1 New Member

    Wow, Ok, maybe I will see dr. on Monday (our scheduled visit) and discuss this with her.
    I don't think I was awful to her... I mean, when she was a baby, I was criticized for carrying/holding her too much, I would rock her to sleep for like an hour every night, I didn't believe in crying it out, after several exhausted months of sleep deprivation I finally put her in bed with us so finally we could sleep at night. I only worked part time then quit to be at home with her before second baby was born, we played, read books, etc, rarely if ever watched tv, went to parks and for walks a lot.

    This was as a baby... but even as a young thing she would run out in the road - which she still does as an almost 8 year old, her sister 2 years younger can understand the dangers of parking lots and streets better than she can. And she would run off a lot, she would do the opposite of what I asked, she would be visibly (to others) defiant, she would get upset if I made her wear warm clothes in winter (she STILL gets mad if I ask her to wear a jacket) and cool clothes in summer... I am mostly tiptoeing around her (and her sister does it too) excessive moodiness and tantrums. And other people as well, family of mine, don't like being around her or find her very difficult to deal with (and always has).

    Her father, however, was the most patient person in the entire world and would endlessly deal with her and also ended up holding her all the time - even as a four and five year old (we're talking carrying her around while fixing dinner, holding her while actually feeding her food for her, etc). I had set stricter boundaries but that was his relationship with her... and probably why she was so upset when he died.

    Anyway thanks for letting me get this off my chest also reassuring me that possibly this is not the correct diagnosis for her. It's been so hard (as I'm sure all of you know and have harder too) and there have been times when I wish she was 18 and leaving home... terrible to say but I just can't deal.

    Thanks for all the replies and good luck to all who are doing the best for their kids - I see lots of love here.

  8. losttheplot

    losttheplot Guest

    Hi Alli1

    I too have a child who is 7 who was recently diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and he is my child...he has never been abused or neglected and is my child not an adopted or foster child.... I didn't agree with this disorder when it was told to me because I thought it only happened to kids who had been abused or suffered severe trauma ...The Pysch said its partly due to genetics (dad having narcissism) and just the way he was born... he wont allow himself to get close and he needs to always be in control ..I didn't get how he could have it and ODD but who am I but just the Mum.... LOL

    difficult child hasn't been abused etc but in his case they sat he choses not to form attachments with those closest to him but will talk and take things from strangers, he hoards food, doesn't feel pain or show empathy, wont hug me unless he wants something, breaks his and everyone else's stuff and throws it out in anger...I could go on.... .....

    I read and have added that Some disorders have similar symptoms to Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). so these have to be ruled out so they get it right before they see its definitely Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)...

    Anti-Social Personality Disorder.
    Conduct Disorder.
    Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
    Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
    Developmental Disorder of Receptive Language.
    Socio-Emotional Problems.
    Mental Retardation.
    Rett's syndrome.

    With my difficult child I think its more than likely something else but thats me cause I like second and third and fourth opinions.....

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    There is one other thing you need to check out:
    Autistic Spectrum Disorder
    It's a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) mimicker. These kids don't like to be held, make poor eye contact, often do not like to or know how to socialize and are very rigid. They can appear to have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but they don''s just how they are.
    I would always question Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) if it really makes no sense. Why would an infant choose not to attach? I don't buy that either. I'd be looking elsewhere for a diagnosis. there too.
  10. Alli1

    Alli1 New Member

    Ok, I'm going to look into some of these other possibilities - I do think something is there, but hopefully I can find out what it is. And get a better diagnosis.

    I have to say, I am really appreciating two things here: one, there are so many supportive people who can provide real insight, two, it's making me realize that the sooner I take care of this, the better equipped I will be during those (for me feared) teenage years.

    Thank you all for your posts! :D

  11. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Another parent of a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child. Mine was severely abused and neglected until age 3, when I adopted her. However, it is possible for a biological child that is loved and never abused nor neglected to have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This usually occurs when the child is very colicky, a preemie or has sensory issues which makes being held uncomfortable.

    From what you have described, none of these things occurred. Therefore, I would seriously question the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis. To state that after one session is, in my opinion, ridiculous. Even given my child's history, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was not even mentioned for 2 years although it was considered. Her therapist wanted to see how she did in a loving environment before making that diagnosis -- it is a very harsh one and one that especially devastating since there are no drugs that and behavior modification is only partially successful.

    One thing I'd suggest you do right away is get the book The Explosive Child. It can help you with parenting your child and give you some insight with what is going on in her mind.

    I also second that you try to get a neuropsychologist evaluation. This is very involved (usually takes several hours over a couple of days) and filling out of several questionnaires by parents, teachers, caregivers. Even this can be hit or miss but it is far more accurate than other types of Dxing for mental or behavorial issues.

    In the meantime, welcome to our little corner of the world. I'm sorry you're here but so very glad that you found us. You'll find a great wealth of information, a lot of comfort and caring and even a laugh or two along the way.
  12. navineja

    navineja New Member

    Yes Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can be found in children who have not been abused, since it is a bonding issue. Children whose mothers have suffered postpartum depression have been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), as well as children who have had serious illnesses while very young and have not been able to experience normal bonding due to hospitalizations. You may want to check out for more info and help, in addition to the wonderful advice and support you will find here.
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome Sweetie!

    first thing to do is make an appointment with a psychiatrist, preferably at a major children's hospital. If at all possible get a multi-disciplinary evaluation including a neuropsychologist. This is an evaluation that takes many hours and all the "professionals" work together to find out what is wrong.

    If you can't get the multi-disciplinary evaluation, get a neuropsychologist evaluation and also get a psychiatrist on board. I truly think you are NOT dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). My very high functioning Asperger's child was suspected of having Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) because he had ear infections that were quite bad and we sometimes didn't know because he couldn't tell us. It was bs. We did everything possible to help him, gave him everything he needed.

    Your child is probably still grieving. I don't know how to help with that much grief in such a young child, but someone will. It also sounds VERY much like there are sensory issues. You need to get a private occupational therapy evaluation with attention paid to sensory issues and Sensory Integration Disorder. The book "The Out Of Sync Child" can explain this more clearly than I can. We found that serving the sensory needs of our kids really really calms our home, and really, who cares if he/she is wearing long pants on a hot day? When they get hot enough, they will take them off. Put a little sticker on her that says "I dressed myself" and let her be. I have truly been there done that, my youngest wore ratty pants and a HUGE nightshirt to go see his sister in a play. I could have fought about clothes, but then we would have ALL been miserable through the entire play. He chewed on teh shirt collar, had it wet almost down to his belly button, but I didn't have to wear it and as long as he doesn't gripe, I let it go. this is just an example of some of the stuff that helps kids with sensory problems. Your daughter may like being wrapped up tight in a blanket like a burrito. The deep pressure can serve a sensory need, and make her calmer in other situations. I would read the book and have the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation before trying that though.

    in my humble opinion giving a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis on a first visit should be malpractice. The "expert" didn't have enough time to learn about your child, much less the family and family dynamics. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) must be the diagnosis of the week, one she is giving out because she just read something about it. go f ind a therapist AND a psychiatrist (with the MD) and have them do some real evaluations before you despair.

    I am sorry your daughter is in such pain, and that you are too. This is a good place to be, and you will get a lot of helpful and valuable advice. I DO recommend going to the FAQ forum and reading about the Parent Report. It is a way of organizing info about your child and family so you have it on hand to share with the professionals in your child's life. Keep her picture in there so they remember she is a PERSON, not just a number or a client.


  14. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Another Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) parent here. It took almost 2 years before the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was given to kt & wm. In fact I remember the therapist saying, "well, this isn't working, I guess we'll have to consider Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)".

    Saying that, attachment disorder is a spectrum - from attachment issues to full blown reactive attachment disorder. This diagnosis isn't given lightly.

    I agree that your difficult child should have a full MDE.

    Good luck & keep us update.
  15. Christy

    Christy New Member

    We suspected Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) at one point with my son who had a history of neglect until he was placed in fostercare at age 4. He now has a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder and some mixed opinions on Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified. In reading about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), I remember something about multiple care givers in the earlier years contributing to the condition. If you had a lot of baby sitters, nannies, daycare workers, etc.. before the age of two, then a child may not have formed an attachment to one person. But if you were accused of holding him too much as a baby then this is probably not the case. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) would seem unlikely.

    Good luck seeking the answers you need to best help you child.
  16. reallytrying

    reallytrying New Member


    Many positive thoughts in your direction as you start this journey--My family and I have just begun ours as well. I'm finding that while I once feared a diagnosis, it actually gave me a place to start.