A problem often not thought about with children today is reactive detachment disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic “Reactive attachment disorder is a rare but serious condition in which infants and young children don’t establish healthy bonds with parents or caregivers.” This condition is normally manifested because of abuse, abandonment, neglect or simply adoption. Attachment disorder is not a condition inherited through race or sex; it can begin before age 5 and last into adult hood depending on the severity of the disorder.
Reactive attachment disorder is noted as a rare condition in the United States; although there are no known studies of attachment disorders in children. Currently the only data that is available is through adoptions and foster care placement. This data is used to estimate the approximate number of children that possibly have attachment disorder although the estimate is ‘rough’ at best. It only accounts for the children in foster care / adoption and not the children still in abusive relationships that can cause the disorder.
Reactive attachment disorder has no physical signs directly linked to the condition although various indicators are normally present such as:
- Signs of physical maltreatment, such as old fractures or bruises
- A syndrome characterized by excessive appetite in children who have been in several foster homes
- Excessive appetite and excessive thirst in children who experience severe stress
- Poor personal hygiene
- May appear bewildered, unfocused, and under stimulated
There is not a ‘cure’ for detachment disorder but many children / teens can develop stability with the aid of treatment. The Family Foundation School has students that have been diagnosed with this condition and the school provides various groups to assist in this area. Some of the Family School’s specific support groups relevant to this disorder are the: social anxiety group, grief group, and adoption group. In addition the Family Foundation School also provides individual counseling for its students in multiple areas.