After nearly 40 years of mental health work, I still see doctors give kids with attachment disorders the wrong medications.
Most therapists don’t recognize attachment disorder
Honestly, I can see how it happens. It’s complicated to figure out kids with attachment disorders. To start, most therapists and doctors haven’t learned enough about attachment disorder to recognize it (watch our videos to learn more). And because they don’t recognize reactive attachment disorder, it’s even more difficult for doctors to know the right medications for these kids.
Oftentimes, psychiatrists give kids with RAD stimulants that work at first. After a while, however, the kids just feel agitated. And it shows.
To make things more complicated…
Truth be told, mood disorders are common with these kids. So they do need mood stabilizers. In fact, psychiatrists don’t give kids with RAD high enough doses. When kids experience trauma, their brains physically change. Psychiatrists often don’t give kids adequate mood stabilizers to make a difference over time. On the other hand, we’re excited about what we’ve found in the practice of neurofeedback. It’s an extremely effective tool to help calm children’s brains either without the use of medications or in combination with medications given to children, yet at lower doses (learn more here).
To make things more confusing, educators haven’t learned enough about attachment disorder either. As children with RAD grow, they develop more sophisticated ways to “stay safe” and keep love away. So they constantly scan and try to take control of their environments. To a teacher, this behavior looks a lot like ADHD. And the child could have ADHD as well. But again, the child is treated for ADHD but the teacher doesn’t recognize his or her attachment disorder.
So parents feel confused (as do many teachers and therapists). They don’t understand why their children’s medications aren’t working. Or maybe the medications did work—kind of—but then stopped.
You’re not alone. Other parents, therapists, and doctors are confused too.
I completely understand how parents feel confused. The best thing you can do is to learn, learn, learn. Share your knowledge with educators, therapists, and psychiatrists. The mental health and education fields are still far away from understanding attachment disorder.
To start, please read Dr. Alston’s article to understand the differences between ADHD, bipolar disorders, and RAD.
You are the best advocate for your child. If you feel overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone. Lots of other parents feel the same way. Reach out to us. Let us help you get connected to resources and parent groups.
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What’s your experience with finding the right medication for your child? Please share below.