By Trace Embry
Today, I want to tackle the difficult subject of Reactive Attachment Disorder (R.A.D.); also known as Developmental Trauma Disorder (D.T.D.).
We are seeing R.A.D. surface more frequently within the American families of today’s culture.
Many parents are unaware of how important this topic could be for their family. In today’s post, I will merely scratch the surface of a complex disorder that may be affecting your home.
What is R.A.D.?
R.A.D. stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder. The Reactive Attachment Disorder is typically associated with foster or adopted children. Essentially, there is a disconnect from the biological parent and the child will struggle in developing a healthy bond with the adoptive parents.
More recently, Reactive Attachment Disorder has been referred to as Developmental Trauma Disorder (D.T.D.).
D.T.D. is substantial because it encompasses all trauma in the developmental years of infancy, which can include adoption. Therefore, Developmental Trauma Disorder is appropriate and doesn’t necessarily constitute that a child is adopted or is a foster child. In short, many parents may experience Reactive Attachment Disorder symptoms even though their child is their own biological son or daughter.
What Causes Reactive Attachment Disorder?
During the first 36 months of life the human brain develops to 90% of the adult size and the pathways are being formed rapidly during this time.
Any major cause of trauma in the infant’s first 36 months of life can drastically alter the brain. Some examples are:
- Extreme nutritional, emotional, and/or physical neglect
- Parents “not wanting” their child. The child could begin developing the sense of not being wanted even in the womb.
- Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
The trauma generally associated with Reactive Attachment Disorder or Developmental Trauma Disorder is the lack of bonding between the biological parents and the child. This lack of bonding occurs in many families today.
Some parents are not prepared for parenthood, aren’t naturally equipped with the skills it takes to be a loving parent, or other circumstances stand in the way.
Unconsciously, during those first 36 months, the child experiences feelings of being unwanted, unworthy, and unloved. This ingrains a blueprint in the child’s brain that love and relationships are dangerous or unsafe. Furthermore, it causes fear and lack of trust and puts the child in “survival mode.”
Trauma can also distort a young child’s perception of love entirely, and they view love as a painful emotion.
Have you heard of R.A.D? What are your thoughts on developmental trauma?