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Attachment Disorder In Children Children And Young People Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 1263 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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When a child is lacking the bond with their caregiver, they don’t have the ability to for or even maintain loving relationships. They’re raised with a damaged ability to trust therefore they believe they can only depend on themselves. They do not believe the world is a safe place of that the people around them care for them. Attachment disorders are stemmed from abuse, neglect, insensitive care, psychological disturbances, unresolved family-of-origin issues and even substance abuse. For example, a baby begins crying because they are hungry. Instead of feeding the baby, the mother becomes irritated and yells at them to stop crying. The baby begins crying louder in hopes that their mother will understand and satisfy their hunger. Instead the mothers slaps the child and they’re immediately quiet. While the baby was upset his needs ended up being fulfilled by abuse. Abuse replaces the nourishment that baby needs. From then on the baby will expect abuse instead of nourishment and that is typically what they will get. The child has learned to trust himself and no one else to fulfill their needs. (When Bonding Is Broken 3) Attachment disorders may also form when an infant has too many caregivers. The infant doesn’t get a chance to realize who their primary caregiver is. They are tossed between different people and are never able to form a deep connection with anyone. In the book, Can This Child Be Saved, Cathy Helding says that “an unattached child is a danger to himself and society. He has no sense of belonging to anyone, nor anyone to him… he lives by his whims and unchecked impulses. He does whatever he feels like with no regard for others… he is unable to internalize right and wrong.” (When Bonding is Broken 4) The child has no conscience that tells him before he does something wrong, that it will have bad consequences. Children with an attachment disorder often hurt family members physically, threaten to kill or harm them with no sign of guilt. As they get older they will often express anger when they are forced to deal with consequences for their actions.

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If an attachment disorder is caught while the child is still an infant, it can easily be treated. Some common symptoms in infants are avoiding eye contact or not smiling. They will also reject any efforts to calm, soothe or connect with them. Infants will also seem to not notice or care when they are left alone. Infants are known to coo and make many different sounds but an infant with an attachment disorder will not do that. (Early Warning Signs) An older child may flinch or say “Ow” when they are touched. Typically when a child is touched it is supposed to have a positive reaction but instead the child feels threatened. They will also go out of their way to be in control all the time and often become angry when they can’t be. Children with RAD will have a difficulty showing genuine care and affection. Many families who adopt say that they don’t feel closeness with their child and this is because of the attachment disorder. All of these symptoms are because of abuse and neglect when they child was a newborn-infant.

The most important thing to do once symptoms are notice is find the right kind of treatment. Every child is different so what may work for one might not work for the next. The first thing the primary caregiver needs to be aware of is prior family issues. (Corrective Attachment Parenting) Primary caregivers also need to know that traditional therapy is ineffective. Traditional therapy aims to change certain behaviors and is extremely unsuccessful with children who have an attachment disorder. During attachment therapy the attention is taken away from negative behaviors. It’s better to look at the negative behavior as a way for the child to protect themselves instead of the child just being bad. When a child is having hard times they need to be close to the caregiver so they can receive help. The child needs to learn that their caregiver is there for them when they are having troubled times. Being punished or sent to their room won’t always help. In fact, it could make it worse. When there is a problem the caregiver should take charge but still remain calm. Yelling will only make matters worse. That doesn’t mean the child should get away with everything. If a child does need to be disciplined then it should be done but the caregiver needs to be sure to reconnect with the child afterwards. It is also very important for the caregiver to own up to a mistake and fix it. The willingness to take responsibility and make amends can strengthen the weak bond between the child and their caregiver. (Repairing Reactive Attachment Disorder) There is a lot of stress that comes with a child who has an attachment disorder. Sometimes it is so great that the child may require out-of-home placement.

In a case study done by Margot Richters, PH.D. and Fred Volkmar, MD, Shannon was evaluated and diagnosed with an attachment disorder after being placed in child protective services. Other children had died due to unknown reasons while under the care of Shannon’s mother. Shannon and two other children had been placed in child protective services after unexplained injuries. After examination Shannon looked much smaller than she stated. She was extremely underweight due to malnourishment while living with her mother. Socially, Shannon did not understand turn-taking or how to interact with other children her age. She was withdrawn and couldn’t easily engage with others. She was also diagnosed with depression and anxiety. After being taken care of properly and undergoing attachment therapy she started showing signs of improvement. She was noticeably happier and began playing with others. (Reactive Attachment Disorder) Through therapy and a loving environment, Shannon was able to begin forming healthy relationships.

Margot Richters, PH.D. and Fred Volkmar, MD also did another case study on an eight year old boy, Jimmy. Jimmy grew up in a military family so he did a lot of moving around. His family life was poor and his parents got a divorce when he was younger. Between the ages of three and eight Jimmy lived a hectic life. He moved between his mother and father before child protective services sent him to live with his father after they investigated his mother for child abuse. Jimmy’s father noticed a change in his sons’ personality after the move. Jimmy was very aggressive and needed constant supervision. Jimmy also displayed an extreme dislike when he was touched. (Reactive Attachment Disorder) Through therapy and constant love from his father, Jimmy began working towards becoming a different child.

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Twelve percent of adopted children have been diagnosed with attachment disorder. (Social and Emotional Well Being) With a nurturing environment a child can get past their attachment disorder and learn to trust and form healthy relationships. Younger children can form a bond by non-negotiable closeness with their primary caregiver. No matter how severe the attachment disorder is, children do have the ability to heal and form healthier attachments. The sooner the healing process begins, the sooner they can start to live their life with a healthier outlook. Children need an environment where they will be nurtured and are able to develop trusting relationships. Medication can be used to treat associated issues but there is no quick fix for an attachment disorder.


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