Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD

Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD

Positive relationships are the cornerstone to the happiness and overall well being of a child. Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD, is a serious, though rare, condition that can develop in infants and young children, when they fail to form any type of relationship or attachment to parents or caregivers. Normally present and diagnosed before the age of five, children with RAD can struggle throughout their lifetime, especially without proper treatment.


RAD can occur when an attachment between an infant or young child and their caregiver is not present or constantly interrupted. This can be due to neglect, such as by not having their physical and emotional needs met, or by the lack of a consistent and continuous caregiver, such as a child frequently changing foster homes.

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of RAD, like most disorders, will vary from child to child, as will the severity of symptoms present. Some of the general symptoms or signs present if a child has Reactive Attachment Disorder are:

  • Depressed mood or consistent unexplained sadness.
  • Resistant to emotional or physical comforting.
  • Inability to form positive relationships.
  • Socially awkward- often watches social situations but never actively participates.
  • Does not show true emotions- may go out of their way to seem happy and content.
  • Lack of interest in social games or activities.
  • Does not ask for help when needed, which can lead to low grades and difficulties in school.
  • Low self-esteem or self-worth.


Early intervention is very important in the successful treatment of Reactive Attachment Disorder. The main goal of RAD treatment is to help the child learn to form attachments and foster relationships with parents and caregivers. To make this possible, parent or caregiver education will be a major focus. As is creating and maintaining a stable, safe, and nurturing home environment for the child. Individual and family psychological therapy is often a treatment option to help both the child with RAD and the caregiver.

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Reactive Attachment Disorder
Shandy Marso, Contributor

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