The essential feature of Reactive Attachment Disorder is markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts that begins before age 5 years and is associated with grossly pathological care (Criterion A). There are two types of presentations. In the Inhibited Type, the child persistently fails to initiate and to respond to most social interactions in a developmentally appropriate way. The child shows a pattern of excessively inhibited, hypervigilant, or highly ambivalent responses (e.g., frozen watchfulness, resistance to comfort, or a mixture of approach and avoidance) (Criterion A1).
In the Disinhibited Type, there is a pattern of diffuse attachments. The child exhibits indiscriminate sociability or a lack of selectivity in the choice of attachmentfigures (Criterion A2). The disturbance is not accounted for solely by developmental delay (e.g., as in Mental Retardation) and does not meet criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Criterion B).
By definition, the condition is associated with grossly pathological care that may take the form of persistent disregard of the child's basic emotional needs for comfort, stimulation, and affection (Criterion C1); persistent disregard of the child's basic physical needs (Criterion C2); or repeated changes of primary caregiver that prevent formation of stable attachments (e.g., frequent changes in foster care) (Criterion C3). The pathological care is presumed to be responsible for the disturbed social relatedness (Criterion D).
A. Markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts, beginning before age 5 years, as evidenced by either (1) or (2):
B. The disturbance in Criterion A is not accounted for solely by developmental delay (as in Mental Retardation) and does not meet criteria for a Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
C. Pathogenic care as evidenced by at least one of the following:
D. There is a presumption that the care in Criterion C is responsible for the disturbed behavior in Criterion A (e.g., the disturbances in Criterion A began following the pathogenic care in Criterion C).
There are two types of attachment disorder:
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Jun 2010
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