Thursday, April 22, 2010

Adoption and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

At Sorenson's Ranch School we have a lot of students who have been adopted. Most of these students were adopted at an older age and remember the abuse and neglect they experienced prior to adoption. Some adolescents do not remember the abuse and neglect they went through. Those that do not remember still have the experiences imprinted in their brains and experience symptoms from their earlier years of abuse and neglect.
During their treatment at Sorenson's Ranch School each student who has been adopted attends an adoption group. This group is offered to the students to help them recognize how some of the problems they are experiencing now stem from issues connected with their adoption. We help the students work through their feelings of anger and confusion related to their adoption. Students are also able to relate to each other and see that they are not the only ones that have certain feelings about their adoption.
It is important to note that the first two years of life are the most important and critical time for a secure attachment to take place. Children need to experience the cues of attachment from their primary caregiver. These cues are eye contact, touch, smiling feeding, heart connection and being in the caregivers arms. It is very important that the child’s needs are met during the first two years. Parents may wonder what some symptoms of a compromised attachment are that may be affecting their teenager. A brief list of these symptoms are low self-esteem, needy or clingy, extremely difficult time coping with stress and adversity, lack of self-control, behavioral and academic problems at school, lack of compassion and empathy, do not show remorse, aggression and violence, difficulty with trust, hoarding, difficulty showing affection, oppositional with parents and other authority figures, unable to develop and maintain lasting friendships, and negative view of self and the world in general.
Some of our students are diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and some have less severe attachment issues and do not fully meet the criteria for RAD, but still have some attachment issues related to their adoption that need to be worked on so that the adolescent can be successful in life and have successful relationships. It is important to get your child help early if they are experiencing symptoms related to attachment or their adoption.

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