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Reactive Attachment Disorder

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2/16/2010 9:23:49 PM
Posted: 8 years ago
There is a condition referred to as Reactive Attachment Disorder that describes children who at a very young age (under three) did not receive adequate bonding with their mother. Although I have a healthy skepticism of research, there is plenty of research out there, to show how very critical early bonding is, yet people who often take what the experts say as gospel seem to conveniently overlook. From my experience as a school psychologist, I believe many kids today share some of the same problems as children with a true Reactive Attachment Disorder. This is the case for children from all types of backgrounds: high income, low income, professional parents, blue collar parents, two parent homes, single parent homes, Caucasian families, minority families, and many combinations thereof. There are kids who come from all kinds of homes that don't receive the bonding, attention, and time from their parents. Don't misunderstand me, I do believe there are children who suffer from genuine Reactive Attachment Disorder. These are the most serious casualties of parental neglect. They often are the infants who were born to a drug addicted mother, were abused, and bounced from foster home to foster home. But everything occurs on a continuum. Kids who come from high-income, two-professional-parent homes, with all the material fluff and activities that money can buy, can be the victims of insufficient bonding, attention, and caring from their parents. Each child has to be considered individually.

Let's consider the child who appears to have everything he needs. Was he dropped in daycare at six weeks old, with who knows how many daycare workers "caring" for him and "bonding" with him? If he has two professional (or working) parents then he probably was. Or maybe he was six months old, or a year old. Some people think that's more than enough time to have laid the emotional foundation. As inconvenient as it may be for these parents, critical bonding and emotional needs continue beyond the first year. Lets even say that he stays with grandma or the same babysitter for the time that mom is gone at work, day after day, week after week. Is that the same as mom? Remember, when he was in the womb he was already getting to know Mom through her voice, her heartbeat, and so on. And when he first comes out whose smell, voice, touch, and taste does he bond with? Yet some parents are willing to say that just anybody can substitute for mom.

Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder have problems with trust and control; they don't know what to expect (inconsistent parenting, abusive parenting, no parenting, many "caretakers" and foster homes) and it has to be their way, even in school; they are destructive to self, others, and material things; they suffer serious difficulty with peer relationships, delaying gratification, and organization. If you showed this list of problem behaviors to a teacher she would probably say that describes half her classroom. Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder make it really clear just how important bonding, time, and attention from Mom and Dad really are. Although there are only a very small percentage of children with true Reactive Attachment Disorder, the symptoms (behaviors) described above represents the majority of behaviors that problem children present in the schools, and in every case I could trace them back to lack of time, commitment, and caring from their parents. If you are a parent, where are you going to spend and invest your time and effort?