The Signs and Symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder

Blog-The Signs and Symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a condition in which children fail to establish healthy bonds with their primary caregivers. It affects children who have received inadequate care from their parents or primary caregivers—typically their mothers before the age of 5. A child might have RAD if there’s nothing neurologically or medically wrong with them, but they still can’t properly form attachments. The child may have difficulties regulating distressing emotions and may have a flat affect (no smiles) during interactions with caregivers. When emotional care and nurturing is withheld from a child during their first few years, it can have a negative impact on the rest of their life.

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a condition in which children fail to establish healthy bonds with their primary caregivers, and it can have a negative impact on the rest of their life. Click To Tweet

Left untreated, RAD can have a negative effect on a child’s behavioral, emotional, physical, and social development. Children with RAD are typically at a higher risk for depression, low self-esteem, relationship challenges, learning difficulties, and oppositional behavior. And 2016 research in Scientific World Journal found that children who aren’t treated for RAD may develop personality disorders when they reach adulthood.

Despite the serious effects on a child’s life, many families are either unaware of the problem or never seek help. This makes it difficult to accurately estimate the prevalence of RAD. However, a 2013 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that 1.4% of children in a deprived population experienced RAD.


Research shows that RAD can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Disregard of a child’s basic physical needs: For example, a baby cries, and no one responds or comforts the child. Or an infant is hungry or wet and they aren’t attended to for hours.
  • Persistent neglect of a child’s emotional needs: withheld affection and care: RAD can occur when infants and toddlers don’t get the nurturing they need. For example, if caregivers don’t look at, talk to, sing to, or play with a child, it can lead to attachment problems.
  • Frequent shifting of primary caregivers: For example, if a child bounces around with parents, grandparents, guardians, institutional care, or foster care, it may increase problems developing healthy emotional attachments.
  • Preterm birth or low birth weight: A 2020 study in Acta Paediatrica shows that preterm infants are at increased risk of developing RAD. Babies born at less than 32 weeks of gestation have 3 times the risk of being diagnosed with the condition, and babies that are less than 2.5 kilos at birth have twice the risk as normal-weight babies.


Children suffering from RAD may exhibit an array of emotional and behavioral symptoms, including one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Detached, withdrawn, or unresponsive
  • Resists attempts to soothe or comfort
  • Holds back or bottles up emotions
  • Exhibits avoidant behaviors
  • Sudden, unexplained outburst or irritability, fear, or sadness
  • Moodiness
  • Lack of smiling
  • Inappropriately familiar with others
  • Selective with attachment figures
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotion
  • Trouble accepting physical or emotional closeness
  • Reacting violently when held or comforted
  • Unpredictable behavior
  • Difficult to discipline

All of these symptoms may range from mild to severe. Research in a 2018 issue of Attachment & Human Development found that the longer a child was in institutional care before being placed in foster care or with families, the more prolonged and elevated their RAD symptoms were.


Healthy emotional attachments are necessary for the brain to develop properly, and children with RAD may have abnormalities in the brain. A 2015 study in NeuroImage: Clinical found that children with RAD have 20% less gray matter volume in the visual cortex. The researchers suggest such abnormalities may be associated with the visual emotion regulation impairments seen in RAD.

Additional evidence in The Scientific World Journal shows that children with RAD are more likely to have multiple comorbidities. In fact, 85% of those with RAD in this study had another diagnosis. Mental health conditions that may be seen with RAD include:


With proper treatment, it’s possible for RAD children to learn to trust others and have a healthy and fulfilling life. There are two main goals of treating RAD:

  • Ensure that the child is in a safe environment.
  • Help the child develop a healthy relationship with the primary caregiver.

Treatment for RAD often focuses on both the child and the caregivers. Play therapy, where a child can express their fears and needs in a safe place, is one possible treatment for RAD. Psychotherapy (for the child alone and/or family therapy), social skills interventions, special education, and parenting skills classes are other treatment options.

Although there’s no medication to treat the core attachment deficits associated with the condition, medications for co-existing disorders, such as ADD/ADHD, may be beneficial. In addition, making sure the child is eating a healthy diet should be an integral part of any treatment plan, in addition to treating any micronutrient deficiencies with nutritional supplements.

In order to ensure that the best treatment plan is put in place, a child (and the caregivers) can also benefit from brain SPECT imaging to identify any undetected head injuries or other types of brain dysfunction that may be contributing to RAD symptoms.


If you’ve noticed attachment difficulties in any children who are in your care, seek help right away. The best way to prevent the long-term symptoms of RAD is with early treatment. Typically, the sooner parents or other caregivers get help for their RAD children, the better their chances are for living healthy lives as adults. If you’re struggling with how to handle a family member with RAD, here are some practical strategies that can help.

  1. Get help for your child. The best way you can assist your child with RAD is to recognize that you can’t do everything on your own. Consider getting help from an integrative psychiatrist who takes a whole-person approach to diagnosis and treatment. This can be a huge first step in supporting your child as love alone cannot fix trauma or attachment issues.
  2. Seek help for yourself. Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. If your child is struggling, or you’re having difficulty providing care, seek professional assistance to help you better understand your child’s unique challenges and learn how to help manage their symptoms. Getting guidance on how to handle your child during difficult moments can provide tremendous stress relief.
  3. Provide a stable home. An effective way to help children with RAD is to provide a safe and secure home environment. Additionally, at least for the short-term, it might be a good idea to reduce the number of caregivers. Have the most stable, reliable, loving caregiver provide the child with the stability, consistency, and attention they need.
  4. Create a safe environment. Make sure your child is in a place where they won’t be physically, mentally, or emotionally harmed. This includes removing sharp objects, or anything else that could lead to self-harm or harm to others in the family.
  5. Get clued in. One way to respond to your RAD child’s needs is to observe their habits and reactions. Pay close attention to their behaviors for clues to possible triggers. Try to anticipate difficult situations before they happen.
  6. Heal the brain. Having undiagnosed or untreated brain health issues can contribute to more severe symptoms of RAD. Adopting a brain healthy lifestyle can help heal the brain and minimize symptoms associated with RAD.

If you have a loved one who is suffering from any of the symptoms associated with reactive attachment disorder, the Amen Clinics method of integrative psychiatry is here to help. A full evaluation at Amen Clinics includes brain SPECT imaging, cognitive and psychological testing, as well as an assessment of the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors that may be contributing to RAD or co-existing conditions.

Emotional attachment issues in children can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make symptoms worsen over time. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. I can tell you that after 10 years of working with my adopted daughter diagnosed with developmental trauma/rad, and being a naturopathic physician and holistic veterinarian – there are no supplements, diet, counseling, etc. – that have been effective The only treatment that has been effective for us – unfortunately – is medication- which I attempted to avoid for all of these years. In addition, rad is not “rare“. As a matter fact it is quite common – and most people are not aware of it – including so-called “counselors“ who specialize in “trauma“. The prisons are full of people who more than likely could be diagnosed with an attachment disorder. Their seemingly is no “help“ from government agencies, the foster care system, etc. It is a lonely disheartening and extremely stressful journey for all involved.

    Comment by Judy Stolz — July 6, 2018 @ 3:37 AM

  2. Thank you for covering RAD. Where I live, clinicians say it does not exist but our family has lived with it for over 10 years. Progress is very slow and it helps our families so much when clinics like yours educate. Thank you!

    Comment by Michele Nigliazzo — July 6, 2018 @ 4:27 AM

  3. Dear Judy,
    Have you tried neurofeedback? I work with traumatized adults and children every day and proper modulation of brain circuits will relieve the symptoms and reduce or eliminate the need for the medications.

    Best regards,
    John Mekrut

    Comment by John Mekrut — July 6, 2018 @ 4:30 AM

  4. Same here, nothing seemed to work for our adopted son. When he was sent to prison at 21 was finally diagnosed with bipolar.

    Comment by Karen — July 6, 2018 @ 5:42 AM

  5. I agree it is a long hard road. I think there is not one treatment approach that is best for all children. As a Licensed Professional Counselor I was disappointed at the information in this article. To be fair I think significant advantages need to be made and more training. I am sorry for your experience and I agree attachment work is challenging. I wonder how your daughter would have done with out all your support.

    Comment by Lisa Jones, — July 6, 2018 @ 5:47 AM

  6. Judy,
    We have had our adopted daughter for 15 years (she came to us at 10 after more than 20 moves through foster care). We have made great progress from where we started from, thanks to the help of the Lord and family who we had to train in understanding RAD. There is a trust level for the last few years that has brought a sense of peace to our mother-daughter relationship. Her sisters were also adopted but never bonded with their mothers. Our daughter’s twin has also come to lived with us for the last year and her trust issues are very evident. We also adopted 2 brothers as 7 years age. The older one could not trust adults and entered juvenile detention as a very young teen, causing unbelievable pain to our family through his actions. He is not permitted to return home due to minors in our house. We are still his parents and let him know that we care about him. We are also concerned about our youngest son who has fetal alcohol and has social impairment, but he is able to receive love. The bottomless wells of our adopted children never seem to retain what we pour into them, but those outside the home see progress in our kids. Because it is a lonely disheartening and stressful journey, may I encourage you to find those who understand our daily life and get support. I firmly believe that what we do for our children is better than what they would receive without our presence. Kristi Saul and Brian Post have offerings for the daily survival of RAD families that have been helpful for us. I agree with everything you wrote. I have considered scans for a few of my children but cannot fund the expense. Sending you encouragement.

    Comment by Karen — July 6, 2018 @ 7:17 AM

  7. i’m 58, and have had the brain spect imaging done. The result of the study is that I show patterning of PTSD. Not until a month ago did my psychologist say that PTSD can be related to a specific event, or a LACK of something you didn’t receive as a child…safety, security, etc. Now I know I have the latter. Still struggle greatly with forming bonds close to me , except for my children, but have no problem loving others- which are at an arm’s length away from me. Pretty sure I have RAD. I have never heard this term until today. Through Amen clinic, have tried to treat with prescription drugs because I thought that would be the easier and cheaper route, but after 10 months of treating and failing to come up with a treatment plan that works, i may have to try the naturopathic route. Didn’t choose to start with this as it’s so expensive and so many pills are required to be taken. Tried neurofeedback, but that didn’t seem to get me anywhere. Thoughts and recommendations appreciated 🙂

    Comment by pam hilton — July 6, 2018 @ 7:48 AM

  8. Although it may take a decade or two, I believe that bonding with a puppy and being able to be it’s owner for its entire life in a stable environment can teach a child how to express affection and develop trust.

    Comment by Jill — July 6, 2018 @ 9:05 AM

  9. I deeply empathize with the suffering your daughter and your family has gone through. Raising a child with attachment issues is often traumatizing for the caregivers and siblings too, and the systemic nature makes it all-the-more more challenging to make progress. I echo so many of the comments here – there isn’t a deep or accurate enough understanding of RAD and developmental/attachment trauma, and meaningful support can be so hard to find. I can’t speak either way to the efficacy of pharmaceuticals and like other commenters have said, the best treatments will likely vary a lot based on the individual, but I agree with John Mekrut about the neurofeedback – it has helped our whole family in gradual yet accumulatively significant ways. And so have the camps offered by Camp Revolution Ministries. They provide concentrated support (neurofeedback, coaching, individual and group therapy, education, etc.) for the entire family, helping restore hope when it’s been lost. And it’s affordable, too, relatively speaking. Wishing all of you the best on your journeys, and comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone.

    Comment by Healing Hearts — July 6, 2018 @ 9:32 AM

  10. Brainspotting therapy, a deep brain therapy, in conjunction with IFS (internal family systems therapy) or ego state therapy, schema therapy- can help access the trauma stored from early traumatic childhood experiences.

    Comment by Brainspotting therapy can access the area in the midbrain where the trauma/dysregulation is stored. You should try to find a skilled therapist trained in Brainspotting therapy! I have had success with my clients. — July 6, 2018 @ 9:34 AM

  11. It would seem, psychiatrists and psychologists can invent a name for any personality quark an individual happens to exhibit. The world would be a much better place without over-degree (non-scientific) graduates who cannot find a real job and interfere in child rearing. Also, it would prove beneficial if mothers would remain at home when they accept the responsibility of birthing a child…It does no good dropping them each morning like a piece of luggage to be reared by underpaid, under qualified, babysitters…regardless of whatever designations a child care facility tacks on to their position…

    Parents should raise children…

    Comment by Dr. Henry Sinopoli — July 7, 2018 @ 4:47 AM

  12. Yes, regading labeling, yes regarding parenting. Damaged parents will probably raised damaged children it is a viscious cycle. Life offers up difficulties – in response humans develope defenses to survive and fit in and be appropriate and accepted. Moving from other countries and trying to make a life – utilizing new languages and customs, Wars, economic depressionIt is fuel/ fodder for struggles. It is not just one thing. Blending in can be tricky. We all have troubles. It jusst shows on some more….

    Comment by Louise — July 7, 2018 @ 6:30 AM

  13. It was interesting reading everyone’s perspective on RAD. I have 2 adopted children. My son is 14 and wa adopted from Guatemala at 10 mts old. He was a very difficult baby and at age 18 mts was diagnosed with sensory integration, then at age 4 years was diagnosed with ADHD. He suffered from a variety of emotional problems including depression , anxiety. And aggressive behavior. I was then told he had high functioning autism because of his lack of social connections and also told he had RAD. This was by 2 different neuropsychologist. Not until I got him on the right antidepressant medication and ADHD medication did he start to calm down. I can not say that it helped him attach better to our family or others or improve his socialization but it did help his anger and aggression so we can now work with him and begin to develop a trusting relationship. We still have our struggles with him particularly in the area of socialization. He definitely has trust issues and admits to it. We tried therapy in and off sincevthe age of 4. None of it really helped because he never really connected to any of them. I feel sad for him and worry if he will ever be able to develop relationships and strong bonds with those that love him. The good news is he is in a safe loving family, is smart and is now attending school for special needs children on a regular basis. Thank you for sharing your experiences on this topic and good luck to all

    Comment by Cheryl — July 7, 2018 @ 10:04 AM

  14. Henry, I agree totally with what you said. A loving parent ideally should stay home with children that are born to them, be it a mother or a father. I like your analogy of the luggage, which, sadly pretty well describes the crazy life-style of two working parents, when, if they realized what they were working for (in many cases)–larger home, two cars, expensive shopping habits, etc., the might realize that one parent could work, at least, just a part-time job. It’s too bad that there isn’t a test that one would have to take in order to become a parent! Sometimes the worst parent continues to have baby after baby, with no stable home life or relationship, and the child suffers for the rest of its life, in many cases.

    Comment by Pamela — July 7, 2018 @ 12:54 PM

  15. Pamela, this is the first time I have read about this particular problem, but I am taking a Brain Health Supplement that helps with many issues. You can try it with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Please email me at if you want more information. It is a patented product with decades of science behind it. Diana

    Comment by Diana Haley — July 7, 2018 @ 2:04 PM

  16. Great comments! There is one thing not mentioned that all are affected by and that is EMF radiation (cell phones, WiFi, etc) I know from the reports of the professionals successfully working with those with autism that removing radiation from the environment or at least minimizing it especially in sleeping areas is key. This is an area that most do not acknowledge as technology is part of our lives now. The book EMF Freedom documents the negative influences. We reference it in the business I represent because the device is able to increase circulation and balance re-regulate the electromagnetic fields of the body.

    Comment by Steve Pohlit — July 8, 2018 @ 5:05 AM

  17. RAD evaluation;

    This is the first I have heard about RAD and do not remember it in the DMS 5 book (diagnosis of mental disorders) however, It makes a lot of sense to me. Here is my story; I was raised in a home with basically with no or a very lacking environment of support and nurturing, I call, absentee parenting, until I was 14 year old. I once asked my mom, where were you when I was young? You are in none of my early memories? Luckily, my father gave me love and hugs, but was absent for most of the time. My step brother and sister were not so lucky, as my father did not accept them as his own. He ridiculed and tore down their self-esteem. To be fair though, my father was not around until my sister was 4 or 5 years old and my brother was about 3 years old. However, my father just confirmed that they were as worthless as they thought. I, however, thought I was very important, smart and much better than my sister and brother. This has plagued me all my life.

    My brother became a Heroin addict then schizophrenia, homeless, paranoid, delusional and is now dead. My sister is a drug addict as well. It seems to me that she was able to cope with life until her 30’s. At that time, her daughter, 19 year old was diagnosed with degenerative, debilitating disease and a divorce which sent her into a tailspin. She has still not recovered after 30 years and is still taking drugs, periodically stopping and is now married to a drug addict with a felony for drug dealing as well. She recently disclosed to my mom and I that my father sexually abused her at 17 years old.

    I had a stepfather that entered into my life at about 14 years old. He created a strict and very structured environment. WE (us kids) hated his new family and my brother enveloped himself and my sister ran away and was homeless and drug user and lived from place to place. She had her daughter at 17 years old.

    I was saved by the entering of animals into my life. We moved out to a small farm and I had my horse (rode everyday, every minute I could. I cried with my horse and hugged him forever it seemed! we had rescued dogs, cats with goats, pigs, calves. The animals gave me lots of responsibility taking care of them with nurturing, caring and taking care of their essential needs. Sounds familiar, huh? Well, I believe it his situation saved my life. Yes, I have had pretty rocky times, but nothing like my brother and sister. I believe that RAD is very valid and not just a term used to diagnosis b bunch of symptoms and it invalid. I currently work in a behavioral health hospital as a Psych Tech for 4 years in a chemical dependency and acute care adult and child unit. I am entering into a BSN nursing program very soon and will be a psych nurse in the future.

    Comment by Nikki Garcia — July 8, 2018 @ 12:24 PM

  18. Find a good Homeopathic physician.I’ve seen some amazing results

    Comment by Peggy Brewster — July 8, 2018 @ 12:54 PM

  19. I believe after reading the reasons for rad in your site that my oldest sister suffers from rad! At the end of my mother’s second pregnancy with me she developed a bad cold! My paternal grandmother offered to take care of my older sister so my mother could rest and get better! We found out years later that my sister was with my grandmother for six weeks before my birth! At over70years old my sister is still resentful and angry at our now late mother over her feelings of abandonment! Our mother did tell me that she was impatient with my sister during her pregnancy with me! She also told me that when our grandmother brought my sister home after my birth that when my sister came in our grandmother had cut her hair short, without asking my mother! Mother was nursing me and on seeing my older sister with her new haircut she burst into tears! My older sister has told me more than once that she that day thinking, “I don’t need a mother!” She was two years and seven months old! This affected our family life for the rest of our childhood! My sister told me she hated me many times! She put me down at every opportunity! I had a complete nervous breakdown at 30 years old and have been subject to depression on and off sense! Recently I wondered if I might have PTSD! I have thought of having the scans done but without insurance coverage it’s unaffordable! I have been on antidepressants for almost 30 years and had cognitive therapy on and off! I don’t think I have rad but it has definitely affected my whole life! Anyone else been the brunt of a sibling with rad! Thank you

    Comment by Judy — July 8, 2018 @ 3:22 PM

  20. Reactive Attachment Disorder is very difficult to deal with and few people really understand what is going on. It is really Development Trauma Disorder and lots of things can cause it. It is not always lack of mothering or switching caregivers and home. Medical trauma as a young child, birthing trauma, and divorce, depression in the care giver, and daycare can cause attachment issues. I have worked with twins who have had it. My daughter, adopted at age two, had RAD but I write to let people know there is hope for those struggling with these precious children! My daughter was raging, lying, defiant, manic moods and ADHD along with high anxiety. Twelves years later she is one of the most calm, regulated and kindest child in her grade. Went from special ed to A student! My daughter has changed my life and everything I do….therapy needs to begin in the home and ASAP as the child needs to attach to the primary caregiver. The neurological impairments need to be addressed. Neurofeedback has been life changing as well development movement programs. Unfortunately, our current society is not set up to support families and attachment, but there are many things one can do to retrain the brain for connection, love and trust!

    Comment by Kelly Pittman — July 8, 2018 @ 6:31 PM

  21. . I agree with you perfectly. I have a 50 yr. old son who has this disorder from childhood. I’ve tried everything, he refuses to cooperate with any help offered.

    Comment by Dear Ms. Stolz.. — July 9, 2018 @ 5:25 AM

  22. Thank you so much for replying to my comment! I will start looking for brainspotting therapy providers in my area of Atlanta. Thank you for taking the time to reach out!


    Pam Hilton

    Comment by Pam Hilton — July 9, 2018 @ 7:38 PM

  23. If they don’t harm it or kill it… Many RAD kids hurt or kill animals… my daughter can’t be trusted with her own puppy…

    Comment by Jennifer Dugas — July 11, 2018 @ 9:21 PM

  24. You do realize that a lot of the children we are talking about are adopted by our families. Our two adopted children were both exposed to alcohol in the womb by their birth mothers. The older we got at 2.5 years old from an orphanage. This shows none of the physical signs of FAS, but was violent and abusive the moment we got them . This child has been diagnosed with attachment disorder, bipolar, ODD, OCD, ADD, and a borderline IQ, you name it. As an adult they look more like Borderline Personality Disorder. This child has extremely poor adaptive functioning – they cannot follow directions on packaged food the complete cooking it (they can read well but do not understand the “how”), but made a C in high school algebra. Cannot wash their hair correctly, andinnocently unloads the dishwasher before it is done. Our younger child has ALL the facial features of FAS and confirmed alcohol use by the birth mother – but mild learning disabilities, a normal IQ, and struggles with anger, possibly from the violence of the older sibling when young. I stayed home and was a full-time mom. We did not created these issues. We are working to repair and ameliorate the damage others have inflicted on our children.

    Comment by Sue — July 31, 2018 @ 4:35 AM

  25. AMEN!!!

    Comment by Diane Griffith — August 23, 2018 @ 2:01 PM

  26. Judy,

    I would suggest to have your daughter take Sedona Method classes or Center for Releasing classes. It helps with the emotions. Or if you’re inclined, take the class yourself and it affects your relationships in a positive way.


    Comment by Jm — August 31, 2018 @ 4:08 AM

  27. Judy,

    I have 3 adopted children with FASD and RAD. Bio siblings, tho my oldest adopted daughter did attach she is attached in a different way. Her two younger siblings never did. And you are correct, it is a very hard and lonely road. If you are not in a support group find one so you know you are never alone. But you are right most therapist do not get it. But if you find one who does they are wonderful. A lot of children adopted from Russia and other countries come to us with RAD. Mine were adopted out of the Foster care system and it has been a night mare. Hang in there because you are truly not alone. HUGS from one RAD Mom to another.

    Comment by Anne — January 29, 2019 @ 7:14 PM

  28. RAD is often misdiagnosed as Bi-Polar Disorder. However, sometimes medications can help. There are natural remedies that can also help. It is common for children who have RAD to also have fetal alcohol or drug effects, even if not full blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This combination can cause gut problems, along with damage during brain development, which is structural. Some people use hard chamber Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber treatment (look up Dr. Neubaur) and juicing, supplements and sleep care from orthomolecular psychiatrist or highly trained naturopathic physician. Chiropractic can also help because the child may have bern beaten, had to sleep in unnatural cramped ways, forced to sit or lay for extended periods. Often food isn’t enough to correct longstanding vitamin defeciencies, just like love and patience isn’t enough to overcome severe trauma and forced social interactions or “hugging” is not going to cure delayed social-emotional development.
    There are trained counselors, but you have to be very careful to ask questions about their experience and training or you could end up worse, not better. There are residentisl treatment models that have had some success.
    AMEN Clinics are on the right track.

    Comment by Darci — February 18, 2019 @ 10:02 AM

  29. I am amazed at how many folks are talking of treating this by prescribing yet another pill. No pill or medical therapy can or will take the place of pure human interaction. I am a trauma counselor specializing in Type A attachment issues and co-occurring issues. I can say and see evidence that, Therapies can only assist in a process that already needs to be in place. In the example of many in prisons possibly having attachment disorders. It is true that when healthy bonds are not formed between mother and child fromprenatel through first five years, the child becomes impaired in this area including reasoning but the child still wants to be loved and accepted. This in turn leads to youth forming relationships with unhealthy people, gangs ect. These other youth are usually also suffering attachment issues. There are also adults who will target these kids to give them what they need in order to lead them down unhealthy roads. A person ends up emotionally fractured thruogh lack of attachments, the only true way back is thruogh forming healthy attachment issues. Keep in mind those who have been emotionally neglected need more time and attachments to overcome because so much of the formative processing has been impaired. This is a call of the heart and not a treatment. In order for treatments to effective and result producing some solid healthy love and attachments need to be in place. A treatment or pill alone cannot replace human interaction on the emotional level. Without the human interaction factor the treatment is only reinforcement of rejection. When I do trauma therapy with a child or teen it becomes family therapy because the structure of binding inevitable needs to be addressed. I have found in trauma therapy I’ve neded to get creative in treatment with individualized programs in order to help facilitate their growth and ability to receive. When dealing with an adult it’s a bit more challenging but possible and the program of treatment becomes more creative.

    Comment by Deborah — March 1, 2019 @ 5:21 AM

  30. I’m totally in agreement with you on this argument. My daughter and granddaughter have all the symptoms of RAD but we’re not neglected in childhood. My daughter is hesitant to get close to anyone and has isolated her daughter by physically verbally and emotionally abusing her. She resists attempts at counseling, therefore my granddaughter has to live with her aunt for a safe and stable environment; the counselors only hear my daughter’s side of the story and take sides with her and encourage her to “rescue” her daughter from the safe and stable environment she is in now with my other daughter; this has led to extreme conflict from all sides of my family; my granddaughter is gifted but dropping out of high school just before her graduation. We’re all amiss on what to do. Sorry I’m dumping on you with my story . More power to your holistic approach in being a vet . Thank you .

    Comment by Steve Brandt — March 1, 2019 @ 5:37 AM

  31. I agree with the brain spotting recommendation. I would also suggest you look at Dan Hughes work, ‘Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Traumatized Children’ and find a therapist trained in his methods, which are highly based on attachment play. EMDR is also very helpful for trauma, working much like brainspotting, in case you cannot find a brainspotting trained therapist near you. (Another book that is really helpful with difficult kids is called ‘Transforming the difficult child: The Nurtured Heart Approach’- I forget the author, sorry, but his methods fit really well with Dan Hughes methods. One thing Dan Hughes said that I will never forget is “The more children need discipline, the less it works” He is speaking to the attachment- Kids who are attached want to please you. Kids who are not, fight harder against discipline. You’ll need other methods. Good Luck!- I hope you see this- Lisa Heitmann

    Comment by Lisa Heitmann — March 1, 2019 @ 6:45 AM

  32. Ooops- I have to comment again. Pam, I did not see your earlier post and assumed you were dealing with kids. EMDR and Brainspotting are both good for trauma , but also look for a therapist who works with attachment. For people dealing with RAD kids, yes, it is trauma based, and good treatment will work with whoever is the child’s parent too, teaching you ways to help your child connect. It is harder with teens as they fight harder. Dan Hughes, as I mentioned in my earlier post, has several books and also trains therapists, so you can likely find someone trained in his methods. Also, Homeopathy can do wonders in helping shift a child’s internal world. Much safer than medications, in my opinion.

    Comment by Lisa Heitmann — March 1, 2019 @ 7:01 AM

  33. Agreed about child raising, but I was a single parent, because my child’s father wanted me to have an abortion. My child being born was huge for me, I love her so. I had to pay child care or babysitters. My family were 13 hours away. Expecting mom’s to stay home is not always possible plus, why not dad’s? It takes 2 to make a baby….someone has to work and sometimes, the smarter one is the mother. You must not have any children or you were born with money. I do not believe my child had RAD, but I did have to use child care…..and right now, I am one of those underpaid childcare workers. But I am working there by choice, not because I have to. I once worked corporate USA in management being paid more, but maybe just maybe, being in childcare helps attachments and socialization…we have many highly educated staff members, but we choose to be in child care because of corporate burnout. Kids are more loving.

    Comment by Constance H. Hober — March 1, 2019 @ 8:05 AM

  34. We have two children adopted from Foster Care when they were 5 & 6, nearly 16 years ago. The older one has RAD and the younger FASD. Raising them was heartbreaking. It still is. I guess all I want to say is #metoo.

    Comment by Robin — March 1, 2019 @ 1:40 PM

  35. Dr. Amen – Do you have any brain scans of children who have developed RAD? Unfortunately, my experience with the public schools is that they are very poorly equipped to deal with children with RAD. They tend to immediately question the adoptive parents about their care and discipline rather than being willing to see that the RAD child is going to require a very different kind of in-school and in-home discipline than the typical child.

    Comment by Donald Denton — March 2, 2019 @ 5:59 AM

  36. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Because of childhood illness I spent most of my formative years in and out of clinics w/long-term stays in hospitals. It has affected me tremendously and I am in the adult phase of that where now I don’t trust people. It is very difficult to form attachments and when I do I often pick the wrong kind of person and they invariably do me further harm. It becomes a vicious cycle spiraling down further and further into trusting absolutely no one; that drives me into isolation at times which is the worst thing I can do. BUT….”but God”….I find that there IS an answer and the answer is Christ Jesus. The body of Christ has helped me a lot but we must not expect more from people than they can give; we’re all broken. Another good therapy is to always be helping others. Please keep going and simply do the best you can day by day. May God bless you above and beyond all you could hope for or imagine.

    Comment by SKB — March 2, 2019 @ 8:53 PM

  37. Adopted children have baggage we cannot comprehend on a lot of levels. my best friend adopted 4 siblings from severe abuse and neglect and all 4 have rad of varing levels. they are adults now and 3 function relatively well the 4th struggles constantly. they didnt know they
    were even attached to her until she died suddenly of a heart attack. If they dont get the help they need to deal with the ghosts ofrom the past they self medicate which can be worse that what the doctor gives them. dont loose heart she she just needs that unconditional
    love that shows love no matter what . I told mine thay no matter what he does I will always
    love him I may not like what you do but I will always love you and I try to live that out.

    Comment by Kathy Guess — March 2, 2019 @ 9:14 PM

  38. Absolute H E L L for all involved.

    Comment by debcinga — March 4, 2019 @ 7:26 PM

  39. Alot of children are removed from homes where they are bonded with parents and can’t/ are uncomfortable bonding with strangers. It’s a sad and broken system. Yes, there are families that need help but all of these removals are doing more harm than good to the children’s sense of connection with caregivers and adults.

    Comment by Jennifer — January 25, 2020 @ 1:40 PM

  40. We have a 19 year old daughter with RAD. I do believe the right supplements & diet can help. However, helping a now ADULT child, who says nothing is wrong, can’t sleep due to anxiety, has bouts of attempted suicide, & lives life with no thought of consequences….how do we help someone like this?

    Comment by Renee Mohr — February 3, 2022 @ 8:07 AM

  41. All we need are love and a lot of hard work from our primary care takers. There is no easier way out.

    Comment by Qiong Wang — February 5, 2022 @ 3:25 PM

  42. Hello Renee, thank you for reaching out and sharing. We’d be happy to provide information regarding our SPECT scans and services for your daughter. Please contact our Care Coordinators:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 5, 2022 @ 6:33 PM

  43. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    Comment by graliontorile — November 24, 2023 @ 10:21 PM

  44. great points altogether, you just gained a new reader. What would you suggest in regards to your post that you made some days ago? Any positive?

    Comment by graliontorile — November 27, 2023 @ 7:29 AM

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