Secure Attachment In Children

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Introduction. Children are biologically designed to form a secure attachment. Smyke and Potter (2011) describe a secure attachment as when a child feels accepted and valued by their caregiver, which is a process of the caregiver providing life-long comfort, support and protection for the child. When a child experiences maltreatment and social isolation from a caregiver the child develops a sense of danger which causes an "overwhelming sense of helpless, horror and terror" (Smyke and Potter, 2011). Examples of maltreatment may include a child living in institutional care or frequent placements while in the care of child and family services or when a child is left with random caregivers or the child is brought to a drug house by the parent who…show more content…
Attachment Disorder (AD) is found in the DSM-5 under Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders, which is the first time that there has been an inclusion of a category that acknowledges the impacts of life events related to trauma and stressors (Pynoos and Zeanah, 2013). The DSM-5 (2013) breaks down AD into two disorders RAD which is described as, an "internalizing disorder with depressive symptoms and withdrawn behaviour" and DSED characterized by "disinhibition an externalizing behaviour." The DSM-5 define these disorders as the result of social neglect, repeated changes in caregivers or rearing in unusual settings such as an institution where the child may have limited access to a caregiver. For a child to be diagnosed with either RAD or DSED, the child must be older than nine months, and the case of RAD, symptoms are evident before the child is five-years-old with the symptoms being present for more than 12 months. The DSM-5 states that to perform an assessment, it is imperative to view interactions with the caregivers as well as utilize the caregiver's knowledge about the child's behaviours. Scott, Strasser and Zeaneh (2015) report that of the children exposed to severe maltreatment less than 10% will match the criteria for RAD and although there is less data for DSED the current information is that less then 20% of children would meet the criteria for DSED. There is a lack of reliable evidence to support that an attachment disorder is genetic. Reactive Attachment Disorder. Smyke and Potter (2011) characterized RAD as the child not seeking comfort when distressed, not calming when comforted and does not seek out social contact. The child appears to have a lack of response towards caregivers, the child experiences severe emotional and behaviour regulations, has a very minimal positive affect (smiling, laughing, engagement) and disproportioned reactions of fear or irritability. Case example (Scott, Strasser and Zeaneh,
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