Reactive attachment disorder, or RAD, is a rare disorder most commonly diagnosed in children who have experienced severe neglect or relational instability early in their lives. This disorder is characterized by difficulty forming relationships with caregivers. Children with RAD are rarely able to receive comfortfrom caregivers when they are distressed and can be irritable, sad, or fearful when interacting with caregivers even if there is no apparent threat from the caregiver. They have difficulty trusting in those taking care of them and can be all but inconsolable with they are distressed. RAD can lead to profoundly negative consequences for children who suffer from it, but with specialized and compassionate treatment youth with this condition can overcome their symptoms.
At Youth Care, we believe that it is possible for children overcome the symptoms of this tragic and painful disorder and have created a nurturing environment that will allow them to develop healthy relationships with others. Our dedicated and compassionate staff is expertly trained in caring for young people with RAD and put forth every effort to ensure that they develop the skills needed to have brighter futures.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
Being a parent of a child with RAD can be immensely painful, as your attempts to care for your child can often seem ineffective. You may feel discouraged, sad, and frustrated, but there are some steps you can take to help your child. Some of these steps can include:
- Research RAD. While researchers are still uncovering the causes and effects of this disorder, reading books and articles and speaking with mental health professionals may help you gain insight into the disorder and give you ideas for how to best help your child.
- Remain a stable presence. RAD arises in children who have experienced tremendous relational instability or trauma, and so one of the best things a parent or caregiver can do for a child with RAD is maintain a stable, loving, patient, and consistent presence in the child’s life. Remind your child frequently of how much you love him or her and remain patient with him or her.
- Research treatment centers. RAD is a serious disorder that requires professional help to effectively treat it. Look into treatment centers and find a few that may be a good fit for your child.
- Once you have found an appropriate treatment center, make appointments to meet with the treatment staff and learn about the center’s programming. Offer to provide the treatment team with additional information so that you can learn how that center is able to meet your child’s needs.
- While your child is in treatment, remain an active presence in his or her life. Communicate with him or her regularly, seek out regular progress updates from treatment center staff, and try your best to attend any family sessions that the center may offer.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
Children with RAD are in need of care, and if they do not receive effective treatment, they may be at risk for a number of negative consequences. They may experience long-term relational difficulties, social isolation, and poor social support. They may struggle to relate with adults, have problems with anger,and experience symptoms of other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or personality disorders. They also can be vulnerable to developing substance abuse problems. Unfortunately, childrenwith RAD may suffer from cognitive delays or difficulties with language development, and medical problems like malnutrition may also emerge. While these consequences can be tragic and severe, with proper treatment it is possible for children with RAD to heal from the effects of this disorder and live relationally rich lives.
Types of Treatment Offered at Youth Care
At Youth Care, we offer residential care for the treatment of reactive attachment disorder in a peaceful, structured, home-like setting. In this comfortable, therapeutic environment, adolescents are able to receive the care they need in a realistic, family-like atmosphere that is fully conducive to true and lasting healing. Providing care for youth, aged 11 to 17, we, at Youth Care, are pleased to offer individualized programming that is tailored to meet each adolescent’s unique needs and enhance their already-existing skillset.
The residential program here at Youth Care is based on accountability, responsibility, and respect. A level system is used to provide constructive feedback to the students as they learn to show respect by displaying appropriate behaviors and earning privileges and increased levels of trust. This connection between accountability, responsibility, trust, and privileges is an important life lesson that can be used in our students’ future relationships and implemented as they achieve future successes.
At Youth Care, we believe in honoring the adolescents who are entrusted into our care by helping them understand the choices they have and the natural consequences that can occur as a result of the choices they make. We believe that this not only helps our students learn good decision-making skills, but it also enhances the confidence they have in themselves by showing them that they are capable of making those good decisions.
Throughout an adolescent’s time spent at Youth Care for the treatment of reactive attachment disorder,he or she will have the opportunity to participate in the following interventions:
Medication management: The use of certain psychotropic medications may be beneficial in helping to alleviate some of the distressing symptoms that youth experience. Whether or not medication is used, however, will always be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the particular needs of each adolescent. Students at Youth Care will meet with a psychiatrist once a week, and all medication management needs will be handled by the psychiatrist and Youth Care’s nursing and medical teams.
Individual therapy: Intensive individual therapy is a core component to the therapeutic process here at Youth Care. Students have the opportunity to meet with their primary therapists three times each week.Additionally, students can meet with an addictions counselor once per week if they are struggling with substance abuse concerns.
Group therapy: Group therapy sessions play a major role in the treatment plans of our students at Youth Care. Group sessions are held on a daily basis and are broken down as follows:
- Music therapy groups are held 1 time each week.
- Recreational therapy groups are held 2 times each week.
- Addictions groups are held 1 time each week.
- Process groups are held 3 times each week.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) groups are held 1 time each week.
Family therapy: At Youth Care, we feel strongly that family integration is key in helping our students manage the symptoms of reactive attachment disorder. Because of this, we work hard to ensure that our students’ families are heavily involved in the treatment process. Family therapy sessions are heldonce each week and are led by each student’s primary therapist. Additionally, Parent Days are held every 6 to 8 weeks, offering educational seminars, multifamily group therapy, parent support groups, family therapy sessions, and family recreational activities.
Recreational therapy: When students engage in treatment for RAD at Youth Care, they will be offered a well-rounded approach to treatment that incorporates recreational activities into their schedules. Recreational therapy is designed to help students have a successful treatment experience by achieving physical, cultural, and social accomplishments. Recreational activities also provide students with opportunities to learn such valuable skills as teamwork, problem solving, communication, and trust. Furthermore, through participation in recreational activities, students can build better social skills, communication skills, coping skills, and interpersonal skills. They may also develop newfound interests, discover unknown talents, and experience an improvement in their self-esteem. Under the guidance and supervision of our licensed recreational therapist, students participate in in-house and community recreational activities 3 to 7 times per week.
Experiential therapy: In addition to the previously mentioned therapies, students receiving care for reactive attachment disorder at Youth Care will have the opportunity to take part in different experiential therapies throughout the duration of their time spent in treatment. The frequency of these experiential therapies will be determined by each student’s primary therapist and may include the following:
- Situational therapy
- Expressive therapy
- Exposure therapy
Community service activities: Students will be involved in community service activities at least twice each month. We have found that having students participate in such activities affords them the opportunity to develop greater empathy and a broader understanding of others, both of which can aid in their own recovery. Examples of the community service activities that students may participate in include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Visiting the elderly
- Filling shelves at the Food Bank
- Caring for animals at the Humane Society
Academics: At Youth Care, we believe that every student deserves to achieve success in school and therefore view our academic programming as a therapeutic intervention. Our academic program is fully accredited, which allows students to earn school credits, increase their knowledge, and work towards achieving academic goals during their time at Youth Care. Students are enrolled in a full day’s curriculum, which takes place in a traditional academic setting and is led by a team of certified secondary education teachers and special education teachers who have been trained to work with students possessing a range of learning abilities. All students have academic goals and objectives included in their individualized treatment plans, and they will attend school from 9:00am to 5:00pm every weekday, with therapeutic interventions being interwoven throughout their daily schedules.
In addition to the residential treatment offered through Youth Care, we are also pleased to provide partial hospitalization programming (PHP) for students who do not require the intensity of the programming that is offered in a residential setting. This day treatment option allows youth to attendthe same daily programming as those receiving residential treatment, yet return home at night.
If your child is suffering from the symptoms of reactive attachment disorder and requires a safe, structured, and encouraging environment to work towards overcoming or managing his or her symptoms, look no further than Youth Care. Our specialized programming will be catered to meet your child’s every needs so that he or she can succeed in living the full, happy, healthy, and productive life that he or she deserves to be living.