What is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? 

Markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts that begins before age 5 and is associated with a grossly deprived environment. 

  • Inhibited Type: The child persistently fails to initiate and respond to most social interactions in a developmentally appropriate way (frozen watchfulness, resistance to comfort, or a mixture of approach and avoidance).
  • Disinhibited Type: The child is indiscriminate or shows a lack of selectivity in their choice of attachment figures.

Some children look sad, unhappy, joyless or miserable. Older infants show minimal curiosity about their surroundings and little exploratory behavior. They may show delayed responsiveness to a stimulus that might elicit fright or withdrawal in other children. Some may shrink from contact; others may exhibit indiscriminate attachments. 

How does RAD impact classroom performance? 

A child with RAD may experience a variety of things at school, which could impact their performance. Examples could include:

  • Withdrawal from participation or certain situations or settings
  • Experience episodes of overwhelming emotions leading to outbursts or breakdowns
  • Have difficulty completing work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fluctuations in energy and motivation
  • Poor social skillsWhat can be done at school? 
  • If the child begins to feel overwhelmed or angry, allow a cool-down time with a designated place for the child to go, which will remove him or her from the situation.
  • Allow the child to express his or her feelings.
  • Encourage drawing or writing
  • Allow for a flexible routine/schedule
  • Allow for flexibility in timelines if the child is exhausted from the stress
  • Develop a safety plan for regaining self-control including a designated place for the child to go
  • Remind child as often as needed of materials to take home or assignments coming due
  • Break assignments or instructions down into manageable steps