Provo Canyon School offers residential treatment and education to children between the ages of 8 and 17. Provo Canyon School welcomes young people with a variety of mental health challenges, including reactive attachment disorder.
A child learns to develop through healthy emotional bonds with his or her primary caregiver. For some children, however, early abuse and neglect mean that these bonds do not form in the child’s earliest years. Lacking the early experience of mutual attachment, the child fails to learn how to empathize, trust, and relate to others.
These deficiencies in relating, combined with the inability to self-regulate and to form a positive self-image, make up the diagnosis known as reactive attachment disorder. Children with this condition exhibit either inhibition or excessive disinhibition when interacting with others.
A child with inhibited reactive attachment disorder shows emotional detachment and an unwillingness to be comforted. The child does not look to caregivers for support and may not have a primary attachment figure. Children with this form of the disorder are unlikely to reach out for comfort and may react with aloofness or aversion when an adult offers comfort.
Children with disinhibited reactive attachment disorder, by contrast, may seek out comfort without discrimination. They may show inappropriate familiarity with strange or new adults and may seem fearless in socializing. Both forms stem from the child’s failure to learn societal norms of relating.