RadKid.Org: Reactive Attachment Disorder

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RadKid.Org: Reactive Attachment Disorder & Detachment Issues

Yeah, don't we wish!Reactive Attachment Disorder ...

I had heard of the terms before, but until I agreed to take my 12-year-old nephew in, ?reactive attachment disorder?, sometimes known as ?detachment disorder?, or simply ?attachment disorder?, held no personal significance to me.

My wife and I took our nephew in to live with us in January of 2002. While we knew, and anticipated that there would be significant problems, we had no idea as to the extent of his disability.

Our nephew was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, or RAD, shortly after coming to live with us and, despite the fact that this is a disorder that was barely on my screen of consciousness prior to that time, my wife and I have both come to understand it quite well.

Making it go away was another matter entirely.

As a paramedic for more than twenty years, I had come to appreciate signs and symptoms pointing to specific diagnoses, yet I was astounded to see how closely and how clearly our nephew fit the pattern for reactive attachment disorder. I only wish that treating the problem were as easy as diagnosing it appeared to be

Through books, tapes, classes, and conferences, my wife and I have devoured all of the useful information we can find on attachment disorders and, as we have learned more, we?ve added to this site. If you?ve just begun your own search for ways in which you can help your child, we understand what you are looking for, and believe that this will be a good place to start. We have included links to books that may be helpful and to other useful sites we?ve found on the Internet. We?ve also created a support board on Delphi Forums, and you can find a link to it in our Books and Resources section, along with other support forums on the subject.

Please be careful, however. Reactive attachment disorder is a newly recognized disorder - and as such, some of the available information is confusing and may appear contradictory. Treatments vary from traditional therapy to centers selling a quick fix. While I cannot evaluate the efficacy of each of these claims, my best guess is that the most useful therapy for a kid with reactive attachment disorder will be something in between.

Last Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009


We?ve chosen to remain somewhat anonymous on this site - not because we?re trying to hide anything, and certainly not because we?re ashamed - but because we live in a fairly small town, and we don?t want any of our nephew?s friends and acquaintances happening upon this site while surfing the web and making the connection between him and his disorder. Although reactive attachment disorder requires that he have little or no privacy within our home, outside of the home it is another matter, and it is clear to me that the reactive attachment label wouldn?t make his already difficult relationships any easier.

After more than three years of attachment therapy and RAD parenting, I am pleased to report that our nephew is doing much better, so much so that his therapist recommended that he was no longer in need of regular therapy sessions.

He has learned empathy and responsibility. He has developed reasonable cause and effect thinking, and he has learned to make good choices, none of which implies that he always chooses to make the good choice. His emotional age has become unstuck and he is developing rapidly. While he still angers easily, he has made great progress in learning to control his anger and even to make reasonable argument in the midst of it. It has been months since he has become violent; and we hope, pray, and even dare to believe that we are beyond that.

For this, I would like to thank Stephanie, his therapist; Dr. Dan Hughes, who followed his treatment carefully, even meeting with us a couple of times; the authors of the several books from which we have gleaned the answers to many of the problems we faced; ATTACh, for putting on such a wonderful conference in Pittsburgh in 2004; everyone on our RadKid support forum, for being there to listen and to give advice; my wife, who persevered even when I was weak; and especially my nephew, for not giving up on himself, as he threatened to do many times.


For reasons of his privacy, I won?t go into any details but our nephew is eighteen years old now, and on his own - by his option. While I?d like to be able to say that he?s doing marvelous, the reality is that he still has a ways to go.

Nevertheless, I feel confident that we?ve given him the tools that he needs to take these continuing steps, and pray that he will use them. In the end, perhaps that all that any of us can do.

I am not a therapist or medical professional, but an experienced and well-read parent. Nevertheless, I?ll be happy to answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability, or to refer you to someone who can. Better yet, join us in our forum, hosted by Delphi Forums.

-- ken & michelle anderson



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