What Is
Attachment Disorder?
Attachment Disorder is the lack of a secure, reciprocal, genuine, loving
relationship between a child and the primary caregiver, usually the
mother.  Attachment Disorder can intrude into all areas of a child's life
and, if not treated, can follow them into adulthood where problems with
relationships will continue.  At the root of attachment problems lies the

The DSM-IV describes attachment disorder as "Reactive Attachment
Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood".  It is commonly referred to as
RAD.  The previous DSM had added the term "reactive" to what Foster
Cline had termed "Attachment Disorder".  The DSM-IV focus is on the
child's inability to relate appropriately in most social situations.  The
indiscriminate selectivity and the inability to respond appropriately in
social situations is the core of its definition.

We at ACO concur with the belief that the term Attachment Disorder
best encompasses the true scope of the disorder.  It serves as an
umbrella for other disorders that are often diagnosed in conjunction with
or ,mistakenly, instead of Attachment Disorder.  Your child might be
diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, PTSD, Major Depression,
Bipolar Disorder, and/or ADHD, along with AD.  In other words, the
diagnosis of Attachment Disorder covers all of the behaviors one would
see in the above disorders, in addition to the indiscriminate affection or
the socially inappropriate behavior covered by the RAD disgnosis.

Attachment is on a continuum.  In its most severe form, one is totally
unattached.  Moving along the continuum towards "normal" would be
someone with an attachment strain or attachment issues.  In all the lists
of symptoms one sees, it is important to note that your child does not
need to have all of the symptoms, or even a majority, to benefit from the
appropriate treatment.

With younger children, symptoms may be very subtle.  Such behaviors as
having trouble discussing mad, hurt, or sad feelings with primary
caretakers are indicators.  Liking someone solely based on their looks or
what they wear is another.  Also, consistent difficulty with change, even
when the change is small or an early insistence on independence giving the
child the appearance of being much older are signs.  Other indications in
infants and small children include: "stiff as a board" responses to
cuddling/touch, poor eye contact, weak or no crying, indiscriminately
social, or no reciprocal smiles.

Older children, however, are much less subtle in the expression of their
disorder.  While some of these behaviors can be found in "normal"
children, children who experience attachment problems display many of
these behavior on a more intense and frequent basis.

Common Symptoms include:
  • Often argues for unusually long periods of time
  • Deliberately breaks or ruins things
  • Sabotages good times
  • Temper tantrums last for unusually long period of time
  • Steals or appears with something that seems                                 
  • Demands, instead of requesting
  • Doesn't learn from his/her mistake
  • Lack of cause and effect thinking
  • Lack of eye contact on parents terms, but can look you in the eye
    when lying
  • Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers (hugs plumber)
  • Lying often and about things that don't matter
  • Making false allegations of abuse
  • Feelings of entitlement
  • Poor peer relationships, no friends
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Lack of conscience
  • Unusual eating patterns
  • Preoccupation with blood and gore
  • Abnormal speech patterns
  • Early history of abuse, neglect, abandonment, unrelievable pain,        
    frequent/long hospitalization
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Attachment Consultants of the Ozarks