Reactive Attachment Disorder


Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) refers to a severe and uncommon condition characterized by persistent emotional and social difficulties in children. It typically occurs as a result of significant neglect, abuse, or early traumatic experiences, which hinder the child’s ability to form healthy and secure attachments with caregivers.

Key Features:

  • Emotional Withdrawal: RAD often presents with a lack of positive or negative emotional response towards caregivers or others.
  • Avoidance of Seeking Comfort and Support: Affected children may actively avoid seeking comfort, support, or affection from caregivers, even in times of distress.
  • Difficulty Trusting Others: RAD may manifest as an inherent difficulty in trusting others and forming reciprocal relationships.
  • Easily Provoked Anger or Irritation: Reacting with unwarranted anger, irritability, or fear when faced with everyday events or attempts at emotional closeness.
  • Socially Inhibited and Detached: RAD can lead to a general lack of interest in social interactions, limited responsiveness, and a lack of appropriate social and emotional reciprocity.


The diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder is typically made by a mental health professional using various criteria stipulated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These criteria involve evaluating both the child’s behaviors and the quality of their attachment relationships.


Interventions for children with Reactive Attachment Disorder typically involve a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach. These may include:

  • Therapeutic Interventions: Various forms of therapy, such as play therapy, attachment-based therapy, and trauma-focused therapy, can help children develop healthy attachments and address their emotional and behavioral difficulties.
  • Parenting Support and Education: Caregivers often require guidance and support to understand the unique needs of children with RAD, learn therapeutic parenting strategies, create a safe and nurturing environment, and develop secure attachments.
  • Stability and Routine: Establishing a stable and predictable daily routine can provide a sense of security and consistency for children with RAD.
  • Collaboration with Professionals: A collaborative approach involving mental health professionals, educators, and social workers should be adopted to create an integrated support system for the child.


With appropriate interventions and consistent support, children with Reactive Attachment Disorder can experience improvements in their emotional and social functioning. Early intervention and a therapeutic environment greatly enhance the chances of developing secure attachments and improving overall well-being.