How To Know if Your Teen Has RAD

Reactive attachment disorder, or RAD is triggered when a child is unable to complete the bonding cycle with their primary caregiver before the age of five. Babies and small children begin building the foundation for trust, healthy attachment with others and security at this very critical stage in development. This bonding is established through affectionate touch, positive interactions, consistently having needs met and consistency of caregivers. Children for whom this is disrupted or entirely absent are at a higher risk for developing RAD, which is irreversible.

The symptoms of reactive attachment disorder among children and teens can vary, but most commonly include anger and aggression, risk taking, difficulty showing or receiving affection, inability to connect with anyone for any length of time and a desire to control every situation. Although there is no actual cure for reactive attachment disorder, there are medications and therapies that can teach a teen to recognize and manage his symptoms and still live a happy and successful life.

The teen years are particularly difficult for RAD teens and their parents. Lying and manipulation are common behaviors among RAD teens and parents must walk the fine line between showing love and affection, but without enabling the manipulation. RAD teens are no different than healthy teens in that they crave acceptance, however in RAD sufferers, it is an all consuming void and then they don't trust it when they get it. This can lead to elevated attempts to control their environment in unhealthy ways, such as substance abuse, sexual activity and self harm. The apparent lack of remorse or guilt after bad behavior can be particularly frustrating to caretakers, even when they know what the root of the problem is.

As difficult as the adolescent years are, they also offer a prime opportunity for treatment of RAD. It can be hard to explain to a young child why they feel the way they do, but teens are mature enough to comprehend, while still young enough to participate in early intervention before they head out into the world. It is a time when they are still able to open up about their condition and immerse themselves in ways to make changes to their still developing brains. Because of the very nature of RAD symptoms, the healing process is often a matter of one step forward and two steps back. Success  for both caretakers and sufferers requires a lot of consistency, patience and reasonable expectations. The treatment options available vary from special education programs and individual therapy to full time residential programs, depending on the severity of the disorder.

If you and your teen are struggling with reactive attachment disorder, please contact us at Liahona Academy in order to determine what your treatment options are and if any of our full time therapy programs will be a good fit for your son. We have years of experience treating teen boys with RAD and our goal is to help them gain the tools they need to recognize and manage their disorder in order to live a successful life and maintain healthy relationships. Call us today at 1-800-675-8101.

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