Raising children in today’s society is difficult. And for caregivers or parents of abused children, the challenges can become overwhelming. As much as adults, children can suffer from mental disorders. These include Depressive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders and Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders. Reactive Attachment Disorder(RAD) and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED) are names given to a collection of symptoms that have a common or unifying cause, usually trauma, abuse, neglect, and/or repeated changes of primary caregivers. They are associated with an interruption of the child’s normal processes of forming attachments and learning to trust others. Therapy cannot begin and end with each session — it must be an ongoing process that involves the entire household. Understanding the origins of RAD and DSED, how these children formed their core beliefs, and how these beliefs affect their functioning and relationships with themselves and others is key to successfully healing the child’s wounds. It is also important to remember that the adoptive family has also been wounded from the internal and pervasive fear felt by the affected child. How they respond to it is often expressed with highly destructive behaviors directed at others as well as themselves.
If you suspect your child has an attachment disorder, seek professional advice from someone who specializes in attachment and adoption issues. Join a support group. Have your child evaluated by a psychiatrist who is familiar with RAD and DSED. Often children with a history of abuse and neglect experience many disorders, including Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, learning disabilities and/or sensory integration and processing difficulties. Treating a child with multiple diagnoses requires a team of competent professionals. Parenting is hard. Being the parent(s) of previously abused children presenting behavioral disorders is even harder, but you are not alone. There is help.