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Understanding Attachment Disorder

The Attachment Place, LLC was founded to provide help and support for families experiencing problems with attachment disorder, sometimes called reactive attachment disorder (RAD) or developmental trauma disorder. This disorder is caused by early separation from the child’s primary care giver, whether physical or emotional, especially during the first two years of life. It can also be caused by other early childhood trauma. Many children suffering from this disorder were adopted into families after spending their early years in orphanages or the foster care system. Others are living with their biological families and may have experienced trauma that made it difficult to form a secure attachment.

Separation from the primary care giver occurs for many different reasons. Sometimes an infant or mother have been hospitalized, and thus separated. Perhaps the child experienced chronic physical pain and couldn’t accept nurturing because mom wasn’t able to ease their suffering. Mothers going through extreme stress, such as a divorce, or who are depressed sometimes unintentionally withdraw emotionally from their babies. Mother’s struggling with addictions also may not be able to meet their child’s needs.

When a parent, for whatever reason, is unable to affectionately facilitate emotional ties or bonds between parent and child, the child will not be able to experience a healthy attachment. Unattached or insecurely attached children feel a deep sense of abandonment, which is often expressed in behavioral patterns. These behaviors can lead to a variety of diagnostic labels which may include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), ADD/ADHD and reactive attachment disorder (RAD). Many of these children receive multiple diagnoses. Children who have suffered from traumatic early relationships or events need a therapeutic and nurturing home environment to be able to heal. In this place, a child can begin to develop a conscience and experience loving and remorseful feelings, often for the first time.

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