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Attachment disorder

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have any experience with a child(ren) with Attachment disorder, either biological or adopted -- though I imagine it's more common in adopted children.

With appreciaton,
post #2 of 9
hi there, i'm writing a paper on my work as a music therapist with children with attachment disorders. what are your questions?
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Attachement Disorder

Thanks for your reply.

We're considering adopting an older child -- say 2-4 year old age bracket, a boy. Our biological son is 4.5. We're wondering about the incidents of attachment disorder in older children, how one might detect whether it exists and how to work with it if it does exist.

Any thoughts you might have are very appreciated.

post #4 of 9
We will be adopting a newborn, so attachment disorders aren't something I'm terribly worried about. But, because I'm interested in adoption in all it's forms, I've done alot of reading. I know a little, but not enough to speak very authoritatively.

It is a risk with adopting an older child, but that doesn't necessarily mean that an older child will have an attachment disorder. Even abused children can form strong attachments to the parents who mistreated them. A child who has formed attachments as an infant can form attachments to others, including adoptive parents. Children who never attached to anyone as babies, because of neglect or abuse or instituational care (like an orphanage), will have severe problems attaching to adoptive parents and may never be able to form significant attachments.

I'm going to stop now because I just don't know enough about this. But here are some books to check out. You can order any of them from www.tapestrybooks.com

Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents, by Deborah Gray

Adopting the Older Child, by Claudia Jewett

Adopting the Hurt Child, by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky

Attachment, Trauma, and Healing, by Terry Levy and Michael Orlans

Parenting the Hurt Child, by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky

Building the Bonds of Attachment, by Daniel A. Hughes

...and more!

Good luck!
post #5 of 9
those were great resources, Laurel.

Healthy attachment takes place between the child and caretaker in the first two years of life, when basic needs are met and the child learns to trust and experiences the world as a safe place.

Attachment disorders may develop when those initial basic needs are not met in the crucial first two years. This may be the result of abuse and/or neglect in the early years, instability, multiple moves, or in-utero trauma such as exposure to drugs/alcohol.

Defining symptoms of attachment disorder:

- impaired ability to trust
- hypervigilance
- unable to accept love, praise, support
- unable to engage in reciprocal relationship
- demanding and controlling
- disruptive and anti-social behaviors
- poor impulse control
- poor eye contact
- lying, stealing, self-destructive behaviors

Of course there are different forms and degrees of attachment disorder.

Being adopted does not automatically mean a child has an attachment disorder. Like someone posted earlier, it's a serious psychatric diagnosis requiring intensive therapeutic intervention.

There are some useful websites out there but don't have any names to hand.
post #6 of 9

attachment disorders

I've got lots of experience working with them at a therapeutic preschool, but I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist either.

Most of the kids at our school have "Uninhibited Type" attachment disorder - they're the ones who will jump into anyone's lap, have very poor boundaries, etc. We have a couple of kids with "Inhibited Type" attachment disorder - they won't make eye contact with caregivers, do a lot of freezing and withdrawing, etc. We provide service for kids 2-6.

Most of them have been in numerous foster homes and/or abusive and neglectful situations.

I don't know quite what to tell you about them... the other thing is that our kids also have a bunch of other problems - most were born drug toxic, for instance, so it'd be hard for me to separate out exactly what their attachment disorder behaviors are and what is other stuff. It's *very* challenging to work with them, but on the other hand, everyday I'm surprised at how similar they are to mainstream kids.

Whether the kid you adopt would have one would be very dependent on their background, I think. If they've been moved through many foster homes and never had opportunities to form an attachment to anyone, it'd be more likely. But since ALL the kids I work with have attachment disorders, I'd probably be more likely to overestimate the likelihood of any individual kid having one.

Good luck with your adoption!
post #7 of 9
Two siblings were adopted into my extended family in the past couple of years after a year of foster care by the aformentioned family member. They were abused and neglected by drug addicted birth parents and both children are considered to have attachment disorders. The younger child is a girl age 6. She has been in our family now since the age of 3.

I am generally a very easy going parent but I have to say that spending time with her is very hard work, mainly because she believes she is equal to adults in terms of decision making. By that I mean due to lack of trust in her caregivers as a small baby she learned that she can only rely on herself - she is therefore very disobediant. I never thought obediance was a big deal - until I met a child who had no concept of it! The worst problem is she puts herself in danger( ie walking out of a public building without telling anyone) and you feel that you spend alot of time setting boundaries. For example she will always come into a room if she can with or without permission. This translates into walking into the bathroom when someone else is in there, going into a couples bedroom when they are in bed, going into a sleeping babies room etc. We end up locking the doors all the time. When I am visiting and taking a shower she will stand outside the door shouting my name and saying "are you in there? when are you coming out?" etc. etc.

She is very intelligent and is extremely manipulative with adults. She lies alot and knows what adults want to hear.

I hate to think that this is all a negative portrayal but these are just the facts. It is also very sad and moving to watch how closely she observes me with my dd (age 19 months) she is always saying how she wishes she were a baby - and I feel for her.

Her older brother is less self-aware and much slower academically - he is 7, his experiences can be seen in different ways. Although both of them are light years ahead of where they were emotionally when they first arrived in our family. ie the little boy at age four could barely talk and just ran around in the yard in circles screaming. Now he is in first grade and had friends and hobbies! It's wonderful.

I'm sure the parenting they receive from adoptive parents can make a difference as their new parents are not always consistent - which confuses them even more.

I believe that nothing is impossible with love - but you need the patience of angels with children who don't know how to bond with others
post #8 of 9
mellymama & margaret, parenting kids with AD can certainly be difficult, especially since the core of their issues is around relationships. I would recommend finding a skilled family therapist to help be an outside neutral figure. These issues certainly get bigger in adolescence, and any groundwork done before then helps.

Good luck.
post #9 of 9
Both the children receive weekly therapy, they now have a large extended family that give them lots of love and attention. I guess its their adoptive mom that could do with a bit of therapy herself as she adopted them when she was in her fifties and as she works outside the home also she can get exhausted and therefore isn't always able to follow thru on all her intentions. The children seem to be very attached to her however, and she is willing to do anytheing for them so we all have hope for their future.

I guess the lack of social skills can be challenging because you don't realise how much is learnt at your moms knee until it is absent. It can be hard because they seem to have no context for social "rules" and behaviors that are a given for other people.

It is hard when the six year old girl wants my love and attention but can't accept the genuine compliments and praise I offer for her accomplishments. She wants to pull me in and push me away at the same time. She is funny because she always remembers every word of every conversation we have and comes back DAYS later to explain exactly what she meant and what happened - usually because at the time she was saying something outraegeous and I didn't respond as she wanted ie I stay calm and don't overreact. She says "you thought I said this but really I meant that" I think she has to rerehearse the scene to herself to understand why she acted the way she did, because often she realises she is undermining herself.
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