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Advocacy actions: How parents and professionals are changing reactive attachment disorder treatment

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

Sunnybrook Children's Home staff members learn about the complex dynamics of reactive attachment during a virtual training by the nonprofit organization RAD Advocates

It's incredibly difficult to support kids with reactive attachment disorder (RAD)—the result of early childhood trauma.

While many professionals do what they can to help traumatized kids, they don’t fully understand the complex and confusing disorder. As a result, they inadvertently make matters worse a lot of the time. So parents raising kids with RAD desperately need support but can't find it. And when families aren't stable and supported, neither are kids with RAD.

Everyone loses.

But there is hope.

Together, more people are bridging the reactive attachment disorder treatment and education gap. Here are some stories that we’ll keep updated to inspire you from your corner of the world (we'd love to add your story too!):

Laura + Sunnybrook Children's Home

Laura Shriner felt relieved to find a safe place for her daughter *Chloe. Due to Chloe’s dangerous RAD behaviors, Laura quickly needed to find a solution to keep her whole family safe. RAD Advocates helped Laura to find and secure placement for Chloe at Sunnybrook Children’s Home.

And Laura paid it forward.

She helped Sunnybrook staff get what they need too. “RAD is a very misunderstood disorder,” says Laura. “It often has additional mental health disorders alongside of it which is a challenge to monitor and treat.” So Laura arranged a RAD Advocates training for Sunnybrook.

Sunnybrook welcomed RAD Advocates with open arms. “We have started accepting more kids with RAD into our organization,” says Sunnybrook Assistant Program Director Hannah Benton. “We need the information and the training to make sure that we are providing the best services for the residents in our care.”

Thanks to Laura, 15 more professionals in the world—from house parents in the trenches to the Sunnybrook compliance staff and executive director—now understand the reality of reactive attachment disorder better. “I loved the training,” says Hannah. “It was very informative and practical with great tools and tips that we can implement immediately.”

As Sunnybrook staff look toward further training with RAD Advocates, they encourage other professionals to educate themselves too. “My advice [to other professionals] would be to get the training,” says Sunnybrook Direct Care Supervisor Sarah Hanna. “Read, watch and learn everything there is to know about RAD before working with children who have been diagnosed with RAD.”

Christine + University of Colorado

As a mom of a child with reactive attachment disorder (RAD), clinician, and graduate student, Christine Campbell knows firsthand how much her colleagues have yet to learn about the disorder—and how little the disorder is covered in graduate school.

After working with RAD advocates for support with her own daughter, she helped to facilitate a RAD Advocates' training for 24 fellow mental health nurse practitioner graduate students at the University of Colorado and their professor this month.

“It went very well. There was a lot of discussion about the child with RAD and their presentation and how we as providers could give better, more supportive treatment,” says Campbell. “[RAD Advocates’] ability to advocate and educate and provide resources has infinite possibilities. They will be vital in turning the tide on misconceptions and misunderstandings about children and adults with RAD and their families.”

Moving Forward for Change

Reactive attachment disorder is complex. But when advocates, parents, and professionals come together, we reduce the confusion, increase resources and provide greater support for traumatized kids and the families and communities in which they live.

What you can do:

  • Organize a RAD Advocates training in your workplace, school, or other community settings. Contact Heather or Amy at to chat further.

  • Join I Move for Change and raise money to financially support further RAD Advocates trainings.

  • Give a direct donation in support of RAD Advocates' advocacy and education.

About the author:

With a background in the nonprofit, education, and mental health sectors, Nichole Noonan writes to raise awareness and funds for important causes. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a Master of Education. Nichole founded Pen & Stick Communications to help noble organizations and people further their reach in the world.

*pseudonyms used to protect identities

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