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Attachment Disorders


Healthy attachment is an enduring emotional connection between a child and his or her primary care-giver(s).  Secure attachment is an essential building block of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development.  Characteristics such as empathy, capacity to love, and inhibition of aggression are all related to a child’s sense of secure attachment in the world.

For some children, attachment is disrupted through a variety of circumstances such as prenatal exposure to toxins, child abuse or neglect, the abrupt loss of or extended separation from a parent, invasive or painful medical procedures or neurological problems.  A child is at highest risk of developing attachment related problems if these disruptions occur during the first two years of his or her life.

Problems of attachment fall along a spectrum ranging from mild to severe. Children with mild attachment issues may have difficulty trusting others or struggle to regulate their emotions.  When the symptoms of a poorly attached child lead to profoundly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness, the child may be given the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). RAD is a serious, though rare diagnosis.

Children with attachment disorders can be helped to live fulfilling and successful lives by early identification and appropriate intervention.  Fortunately, Chittenden County has many excellent resources and initiatives focusing on children and adolescents with attachment related problems.

Attachment Booklet for Parents, Guardians and Child Serving Professionals or Attachment Quick Fact Sheet (for easier printing) - opens in PDF format

Attachment Disorder School and Classroom Strategies - opens in PDF format

Attachment Disorder Home Strategies - opens in PDF format

Electronic templates for these booklets and strategy sheets are available to organizations, schools, and communities  for a nominal fee so they may be adapted to reflect your community’s own local resources.  Use the contact us button at the top of the page for more information or call the Students FIRST Project at 802-488-6706.