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Children that have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) are believed to still have the ability to form healthy relationships (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014). This being said, there are many rehabilitation protocols that people believe will help with RAD. There isn’t one treatment that doctors see as the standard treatment for RAD. The success rate of reactive attachment disorder rehabilitation is nearly 100% in infants, 90% in toddlers, and 50% or more in children 5 years of age or older (Buenning, n.d.).
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RAD is typically caused by some kind of early childhood trauma, which is not necessarily the fault of the parents. Most people associate RAD with abuse, but that is not always the case. RAD can occur from premature birth, in-utero drug or alcohol trauma, unwanted pregnancy, separation from the birth mother, postpartum depression in the mother, abuse or neglect in the first few years of life, adoption trauma, and hospitalization (Reactive Attachment Disorder, n.d., para. 3). The severity of the disorder results from the severity of the trauma. The more severe the trauma, the harder it will be to rehabilitate the child. RAD is a long-term psychiatric condition (McCreight, n.d.), but there are ways of successfully treating it.
Infants have a better success rate because they are not as developed as older children, so they’re more impressionable, as children get older, though, they become less impressionable because they are developing more. Because infants are so impressionable, they have a very high success rate with rehabilitation. As children get older, the success rate drops, but not by much. In children 5 and older, there is still a success rate of 50% or more (Buenning, n.d.). It is harder to have successful treatment because they have developed the thinking that they are alone and trusting people will result in them getting hurt. It is very hard for them to overcome these feelings if they have grown up thinking that way for years. Older children are a lot more developed than infants, and that is why infants have a better success rate.
Some treatments for RAD include family therapy, individual psychological counseling, play therapy, special education services, and parenting skill classes (Smith, Saisan, Segal, 2014). Family therapy involves fun activities for both the child and the parents or caregivers, which are meant to enhance the bond while helping parents understand the symptoms of the disorder (Smith et al, 2014). Children could also get individual therapy that is designed to help the child with monitoring emotions and behaviors (Smith et al, 2014). Play therapy is helpful in teaching the child appropriate skills and behaviors for interacting with peers and handling other social situations (Smith et al, 2014). The child could also get enrolled in special education services at school, and these programs can help the child learn skills required for academic and social success while also helping with behavioral and emotional difficulties (Smith et al, 2014). Another option is for the parents to take classes and learn about attachment disorders and other necessary parenting skills (Smith et al, 2014). While there is no specific pharmacologic treatment that exists for RAD, some psychopharmacologic agents can be used to help address associated problems like explosive anger, hyperactivity, and difficulty focusing or sleeping (Lubit, Maldonado-Duran, Bram, 2013).
One case of successful rehabilitation is in a 4-year-old named Alice. Alice was adopted at the age of 1 1?2 through an agency (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): Real Life Stories, n.d, para. 3). Not much was known about Alice’s biological family, and she had already been through 3 sets of foster parents (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): Real Life Stories, n.d, para. 3). When she was adopted, she was physically underdeveloped, barely showed interest in toys or people, and showed symptoms similar to those in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): Real Life Stories, n.d, para. 3). Before she was adopted, she was being evaluated by a team who was concerned with her willingness to climb on any adults lap and her inability to differentiate between people (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): Real Life Stories, n.d, para. 3). After she was adopted, her and her adopted family got family therapy, and Alice made significant progress (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): Real Life Stories, n.d, para. 3). By age 4 Alice was physically sturdy, well-adjusted in school and the relationships that she had with parents and siblings were developmentally appropriate. Alice’s case was an example of how successful therapy can be for rehabilitating children with RAD. Although Alice was only 1 1?2 when therapy started, so her disorder was not very severe and developed, it still took nearly 3 years to get her to be fully rehabilitated.
People with RAD can be successfully rehabilitated, but it takes a bit of time. It is a difficult disorder to deal with, but with the right type of treatment and a loving support system, children and adults with RAD can be rehabilitated.
The Successful Rehabilitation of Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. (2023, Mar 07).
Retrieved April 2, 2023 , from
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