Reactive Attachment Disorder Symptoms

(Also Known As: Attachment Disorder Symptoms, Childhood Disorder Symptoms, Disinhibited Attachment Disorder Symptoms, Abnormal Emotional Attachment Symptoms, Inhibited Attachment Disorder Symptoms)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What are the Symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Affected children with reactive attachment disorder are often neurologically disrupted so that they experience extreme difficulty in attaching themselves to primary care givers, establishing a normal relationship with others, and attaining normal developmental milestones. 4 The initial presentation of the symptoms will basically depend on the chronological and developmental age of the child. But the reactive attachment disorder is often recognized based on the child’s social interactions. 18-25 months infants usually present a non-organic failure to thrive and they display abnormal response to stimuli.

Children with reactive attachment disorder are most often impossible and difficult to soothe as they accept comfort from no one, not even with their primary care giver. They may exhibit a deceitful characteristic of being superficially friendly to anyone and often approach strangers inappropriately like they are their primary caregiver. The disturbing aspect of this disorder in children is despite the efforts of caregivers to bond with them the child cannot bring themselves to be bonded at all.

Children with the inhibited type of attachment disorder often show avoidance to attachment and relationship with others. This is because the child failed to experience the development of attachment to their caregivers. The disinhibited type of attachment disorder in children is manifested with the child’s inappropriate and shallow attachment to almost everyone, even to strangers, which may be due to the exposure of a child to frequent changes or multiple caregivers.

The reactive attachment disorder is often manifested with distinguishable symptoms in its two types of disorders:

Inhibited Attachment Disorder

  • Avoidance in eye contact
  • Appears to seek contact, yet will turn away
  • Resisting affection given by caregivers or parents
  • Difficulty to comfort
  • Avoidance of physical contact
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Failure to initiate contact with others
  • Often engages in self soothing behavior
  • Appear to be on guard

Disinhibited Attachment Disorder

  • Inappropriate childish behavior
  • Readily engaging with strangers, instead of showing anxiety to strangers
  • Seeks comfort from strangers
  • Exaggerating need for help in doing tasks
  • Appears to be anxious

Children and infants often manifest variety of symptoms as follow: 5


  • Weak crying response
  • Constant whining
  • Rage
  • Poor eye contact
  • Poor sucking response
  • Sensitivity to touch/cuddling
  • Indifference to others
  • No reciprocal smile response


  • Superficially charming
  • Lack of conscience development
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Unusual speech patterns, robotic speech, mumbling, talking softly except when in rage
  • Very demanding
  • Unsuccessful peer relationships
  • Incessant chatter in order to control
  • Unusual eating patterns
  • No impulse control
  • Extreme control issues
  • Destructive to self, animals and property

Could You Have Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Reactive Attachment Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Antisocial Personality Disorder - Deceitful, Manipulative, Sociopath, Psychopaths
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Impulsiveness, Hyperactivity, Inattention
Autism – Impaired Social Interaction, Restricted Behavior, Less attachment Security, Social Deviance
Mental Retardation – Idiot, Imbecile, Moron, Memory Deficit, Difficulty in Social Skills and Problem Solving, Delayed Language Development
Oppositional Defiant Disorder – Defiant, Hostile, Disobedient, Conduct Disorder
Selective Mutism – Inability to Express Oneself in Words, Normal Speech but Unable to Speak
Separation Anxiety Disorder – Excessive Anxiety from Being Separated from People with Strong Attachment, Persistent Worry, Recurring Distress
Social Anxiety Disorder – Anxiety, Social Phobia, Phobia, Impaired Socialization, Excessive Worry, Distressed Behavior