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Signs of RAD in infancy

Updated on June 5, 2012

RAD occurs when an infant does not form a trusting relationship with a primary care giver for whatever reason. This may be because of drug use in parents, abuse or neglect, severe illness, multiple care givers, or adoption. If a baby has any of these things in their history, it would be wise to evaluate whether or not he or she could have RAD. Early intervention might make a huge difference.

Here are some signs of RAD in infancy:

Little or no eye contact

Resists being held and cuddled

Doesn't hold on when being held (no reciprocation)

Doesn't follow parent with his eyes

Hard to soothe

Self comforting (compulsive thumb or finger sucking, rocking, etc.)

Lack of smiling or "talking back" in baby noises

Prefers crib or playpen to being held

Stiffens when held

Cries all the time, or hardly at all

Prefers to be held with back to mother, or faces away

Cries with great rage

Reaches out to strangers rather than parents

Prefers Dad to Mom

Restless sleep

Gets in and out of parents' lap frequently

Unresponsive to pain (high pain tolerance)

Very little imitative behavior

Excessive independence, or dependence

Difficulty in potty training

If many of these symptoms are present and there are one or more indicating factors in the infant's background, RAD is a likely diagnosis.

If I had known about RAD when I adopted my daughter at age one and a half, I would have done some things differently in those first few months that we had her. I would have held her more, although I did make a great effort to hold and coddle her, even feeding her with a bottle to try to make her feel loved and cared for. I would have made a greater effort to respond to her fussiness with physical affection and comforting, I would not have allowed her to be passed about from person to person at church or other places. I would have done all possible to enhance a good bonding experience from the start.

Would it have made a difference? I don't know. But knowing that she was not normal might have stopped me from trying to make her so. Maybe it would have lessened the symptoms. Maybe it would only have eased my own conscience.

My advice to anyone with a baby with these symptoms is to go to an expert or professional and get advice right away, and get help for yourself. Raising a child with RAD is extremely stressful and hard on a marriage as well.


Here are some helpful sites:


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