The mind of a new-born baby is like a blank canvas, which has to be filled with the colors of love, affection, care and utmost attention by the parents. On the other hand, with all such colors missing, there only remains a sheer space of darkness, wrapped with nothing but negative and undesired elements which do nothing but strangle a life from growing to its fruitful ends. I am speaking about one of the rare mental disorders known as attachment disorder or more appropriately, reactive attachment disorder (RAD). Although, attributed to be rare, this disorder can get so severe that it can actually make life not worth caring for anymore, for the affected person. The disorder usually develops at the tender age of childhood, and progresses to adulthood, where it may take a more serious form.
Attachment Disorder - Its Main Symptoms and Causes
Right from blank facial expressions, and uninterested behavior in interactive activities during childhood to severe alcohol abuse in adulthood and sheer negligence of actions and their consequences, every nook and corner of the affected person's life is jeopardized by RAD. The general symptoms may come up in the form of:
- Striving to be socially detached
- Sad or blank appearance
- Unmoved by the emotions of other people
- Turning a blind eye to what others say or do
- Void of interest in playing any kind of games
- Being at ease when left alone
- Becoming excessively introvert or excessively extrovert, especially to strangers
- Persistent in holding back emotions
- Developing a desire to gain control on everything around them
- Lacking the feelings to connect, empathize or sympathize with others
- Not trusting anyone
- Loaded with the feeling of being helpless
- Lack of responsibility
Speaking of the root cause of the disorder, it can be traced back to the infancy of the affected individual. Considering the example cited in the earlier segment of this article, what would you get if you brighten up a blank canvas with lovely colors? The result would come out in the form of a beautiful and lively image. And what can you expect if you keep splashing the same with a black ink? Nothing but an unpleasant image of disaster. The same goes with a child. Love, attachment, care and the willingness to fulfill a child's physical and emotional needs are the basic and the most important ingredients in building up a bond of attachment and closeness between the caregiver and the child.
The positive feelings that a mother passes on to her child, are the very things that go on to help the child to love and trust other people; to understand their emotions and needs. However, on the other hand, if these very elements of emotional warmth are missing, then it would only attract negativeness in the child's life. And this may occur by ignoring the child's needs, and communicating with the child only through a channel of abusive responses, hostility and neglect. The situation becomes grosser when the responsible person is the child's mother. And these very feelings grow and become worse with time, and erupt when the child steps foot in the social sphere of his/her life; eventually earning the reputation of suffering from problems such as reactive attachment disorder.
How is RAD Treated?
It is important to know that the treatment process for this problem is not standardized. The methods that are included in it are taken up with a purpose of setting up a safe environment for the affected child, and help him/her to understand the importance of building a healthy bond with his/her caregiver, which happens to be the mother in most cases.
The program encompasses a team of various experts, use of medications, involvement in psychological counseling, and educating not only the child but also the parents and caregivers about the disorder. Although the problem is a chronic one, adequate attention when paid to the treatment process, it is most likely that the patient would be able to grow into a normal individual like others.
The treatment of attachment disorder may include:
- Classes to help parents develop an understanding towards ideal parenting are considered as an important step in the treatment. Following the program religiously does yield appreciable results in improving the relationship with the child, and help develop attachment.
- Medications may also form a part of the treatment. However, these are not meant specifically for the disorder, but for controlling severe symptoms such as explosive anger, sleeping disorders, depression, agitation, anxiety or hyperactivity.
- Psychological counseling also, is an essential part of the treatment. The program is mainly directed towards addressing and correcting the issues that the caregiver is facing with bonding with the affected child.
- It is most likely that attachment disorder also reaches out to affect a child's educational aspect. So in order to tend to this problem, special education services may be put in place to deal with the condition.
- There could be some cases, wherein, the sufferer may have reached such a gruesome stage of this condition that he/she is at a high risk of inflicting harm not only to themselves, but even others. So in such serious circumstances, the treatment is usually recommended to be commenced and continued at the residence of the patient.
To conclude this article on RAD, given its nature of being a long-lasting disorder, prevention seems to be the best way out. However, experts are of the view that there exists no known way to prevent such a rare disease from developing in a child. However, there are ways with which, the chances can be lessened. And these ways are nothing but simply letting your little one know that you are there for him/her and will always be with all your love and care. Just do your bit with the 'canvas', and the rest will fall in place. Take care of yourself and your child!