Friday, March 16, 2012

RAD described by DSM-IV

So, as a parent of an adopted child, I know a thing or two about RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).  It is a set of behaviors that make parenting very difficult.  The following is a list of criteria for RAD:

Markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts, beginning before age 5 years old, such as:

- failure to initiate or respond in developmentally appropriate fashion to most social interactions

- excessively inhibited

- hypervigilant

 - highly ambivalent and contradictory responses (sometimes drawing close to caregivers, other times avoiding caregivers)

- resistance to comforting

 - frozen watchfulness

 - excessive familiarity with relative strangers

 - lack of selectivity in choice of attachment figures

Adopted children come to us sometimes with severe abuse and/or neglect in their background, or frequent changes in foster care.  Other times, there is some kind of disturbance in the attachment process with the main caregiver (usually the mother), such as extended hospitalization before age 5, of either the mother or the child.

Children with RAD, technically, have no mental retardation (IQ lower than 70).

This blog will serve as  more of a "what to do," since I am all about practical solutions.  Please feel free to leave your comments, concerns and questions.  But, please be aware, that as a Parenting Coach, I cannot give too much advice away for free.  If there is need for extended phone counseling, please visit my website at this link:



  1. I sometimes get general comments from well meaning friends "oh dont worry so much about it! Boys will be boys" or "He is 7! Of course you are going to see a, b and c behaviors!" In the end, it is up to you the parent to decide if you know something needs some attention or not. Only YOU can know if it is time to investigate if there are better ways to navigate the life path for and with your child. Sometimes it is ok to listen to your friends and to let go of some of the natural anxiety that comes with parenting, but sometimes it is important to ACT on what we normally call our "Gut" feeling.

    1. Thanks Victoria! I agree that sometimes you have to go with your "gut." I don't agree with 1-2-3 Magic technique, philosophically, but I do use it - backwards. I say, "You have until the count of 1 to do this. 5....4..." She moves! But I rarely advise this technique to others.