Self-Test for Reactive Attachment Disorder [RAD]

How can you know if your RAD teenager needs to be placed in a residential treatment program?

Take the self-test below. If your RAD teen has 10 or more of the following symptoms/conditions, then chances are he/she is in serious need of residential treatment for RAD-related issues:

1. "I hate you," attitude
2. "You can't make me," attitude
3. Abrupt Change in Personality
4. Abusive Behavior
5. Academic Problems
6. Alcohol Abuse or Addiction
7. Anxiety
8. Argumentative
9. Attempted or Threats of Suicide
10. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
11. Authority Problems
12. Avoidant Behavior
13. Bipolar Disorder
14. Blames Others for His/Her Behavior
15. Blames Others for His/Her Mistakes
16. Blatant Disregard of Rules
17. Can't Accept "No" For an Answer
18. Can't Accept Feedback
19. Can't Keep Friends
20. Clinging Behavior
21. Conduct Disorder
22. Cutting
23. Danger to Self or Others
24. Demonstrates Poor Impulse Control
25. Depression
26. Difficulty Coping with Stress
27. Distant or Aloof Behavior
28. Drug Abuse or Addiction
29. Easily Misled
30. Eating Disorder
31. Family Conflict
32. Grades Have Fallen
33. Has a Preoccupation with Blood and Gore
34. Has a Preoccupation with Fire, blood and gore
35. Hoards or Gorges Food
36. Is "Above the Law"
37. Is Cruel to Animals
38. Is Cruel to Siblings
39. Is Developmentally Delayed
40. Lacks Motivation
41. Lazy
42. Learning Disabilities
43. Low Self-Esteem
44. Lying
45. Manipulative
46. Never at Fault
47. Oppositional Defiant Disorder
48. Peer Problems
49. Persists in Steady Nonsense Questions or Chatter
50. Pits Parents Against Each Other
51. Poor Choice of Friends
52. Poor Emotional Control
53. Poor Relationships with Others
54. Poor Self-Image
55. Resentful
56. Resists Tasks
57. Risky Behavior
58. Runs Away or AWOL
59. School Suspensions
60. Self-Harm or Mutilation
61. Sexually Active
62. Shifts Blame to Others
63. Shows Indiscriminate Affection Toward Strangers
64. Shows Poor Eye Contact
65. Skips School
66. Smoking or other Tobacco Use
67. Sneaky Behaviors
68. Stealing
69. Superficially Engaging and Charming
70. Uncontrollable Anger

==> Parenting Defiant Teens with RAD


  1. I think another important point is the parents often feel overwhelmed, isolated and are not sure anymore how to help their child. When kids have RAD it can be difficult for the entire family.
    Carol Lozier, LCSW

  2. I am raising 2 grandson that were removed from their home for Neglect and abuse. Both diagnosed with RAD and PTSD I can add exhausted 70. Uncontrollable Anger it's rage.
    Thank you

  3. I need help. My husband and I are both medical professionals. We have 5 children, the first three are successful , young adults. We also have two younger adopted children. A 16 y/o daughter with RAD and a 13 y/o son with Asperger’s. Yes, it’s the 16 y/o that has taken years off my life and I can’t get any help.

    She came to us at 9 mo. A case of negect, she was treated like a little princess after getting to us, her care was the best. At age 2 we received a little boy, premature that ended up needing surgery for pyloric stenosis.
    At about the age of 4 she began to have problems. Wouldn’t behave in daycare.
    I was certain we had spoiled her, but looking back, nothing ever improved the situation. About age 6 I found out by accident about RAD. She fit almost all of the 20 symptoms on the list. Parents from her class began avoiding us, I was amazed as I had known many of them for years. I went way over board to set up situations so that the other school girls would include her. That was fruitless. We first went to a play therapist, she played the therapist. We were sent on to a neurologist and she was put on ADD meds. That was a gift from God. She actually became fairly reasonable but as you know they can’t be medicated 24/7. We visited a RAD Therapist team. That was disasterous, for both of us. On our 2nd visit they accused her of writing on their wall during our first visit while they had visited with me. They then began calling her names “thief” and such and got right in her face, it was incredibly unprofessional. Who really think berating a 6 y/o girl is therapeutic, we never went back. We tried another couple of counselors including a phone support treatment program. No luck. We had many problems through middle school. Poor attendance, smart girl, failing grades. Always flies under the radar at school.

    Every few months I get so frustrated I start researching again. A couple of years ago I found a residential program in our area. I was shocked that no one I regularly spoke with knew of it’s existance. I was so excited. I had a lot of trouble understanding the insurance coverage, finally discovered that insurance companies don’t cover more than 30 days of acute care. She has Medicaid, I was informed our state could be petitioned to pay the cost, $400.00 per day. The typical stay time is 22 mos or more. I contacted or subsidy worker, I can’t even get a meeting because I have not exhausted the services in our community. We have no specialized RAD treatment here, except the women that added trauma to her psyche. They are currently sending a MS prepared counselor from a town 30 miles away. He is about to cut our 1 hour weekly visits to every other week. When he visited this week, she had taken her Focalin for the first time in almost a year and I had promised to take her to buy jeans that night. She had missed school the day before and had gone for the last hour that very day.

    I have to have locks on many doors because she steals and cuts our clothes, I have not allowed her to have a drivers’ permit. I took the test above. 47 of the symptoms listed fit her to a T, 6 more were possibles. We also had her committed to a local teen psyche ward. They immediately informed me that their psychiatrist did not believe in RAD. Whatever. The first 3 days I got glowing reports, yes, she had them fooled. They kept her 8 days and seemed much less sure of themselves when we picker he up.

    We are at our wit’s end for the millionth time. Can anyone help?

    1. I can so relate to your comment. I see your post was written in November. I do hope that you've been able to make positive progress with your child. I have found a lot of support in connecting with other parents of RAD kids, especially teens. Find me on facebook if you need a listening ear.... brandonandcindycarrell

    2. I am also an adoptive parent with the same nightmare and my daughter has 61 of the above mentioned symptoms. I have done and heard everything you have, but my husband and I finally found a way for us to breath again, our dogs are safe and she is no longer living here.

      I will never let my daughter drive because she will use the car as a weapon.

      Please email me if you still need help and want to know how we did not have to give her back to the state, but she know longer lives with us and will never come back home, but now lives elsewhere, but we are still her parents and her family.

      Otherwise, we won't be here one day and neither will our animals.


    3. Please email me if you still need help, I am also an adoptive parent with a very scary child and that no longer lives with us, but for the safety of us. I have found ways around all your problems that I have also had myself.

    4. We had a 15 y/o adoptive daughter who came to us when she was 9. She had prior diagnosis of RAD laong with many other issues. We did the best we could (also having her 6-year younger half-brother with all the same diagnoses and then some). Eventually, we had to make a very difficult decision and send her to a wonderful boarding school, Wings of Faith Academy in Stockton, MO. The school and program were great. They get RAD. It gave our daughter a chance.

      She eventually left the school at 19 having not completed her diploma and her life spiraled out of control for a while when she connected with biological family. However, we help our ground and boundaries and she eventually turned it around and has left them and we are rebuilding our relationship (that had been very good thanks to Wings of Faith) with her now husband and our granddaughter.

      I really can't say enough about Wings of Faith. Ultimately these girls have to make choices on their own but I believe Wings of Faith gave her sufficient foundation upon which to build and allowed us to develop a relationship with her that we otherwise never would have had.

  4. The only way to keep my family and animals safe from my adopted daughter was to have her arrested for domestic violence. She stayed in juvinelle detention for 3 days and I went and picked her up. I thought that worked, but she was then arrested again for domestic violence. Each charge was her assaulting my husband then myself. At her pre-trial the judge told us she was getting charged with a level 1 probation and that we could take her home. I was told my another professional when the judge tells you that, tell her that you are not taking her home and be prepared to have all your documents of things that have happened. The courts then charge her with level 2 probation and that is placement. In that placement, they will see your child and what they do, these people know there is a honeymoon phase. I always wondered why the hospitals we took her too didnt understand that. Also, with your child in kid jail they will also see that they need serious mental health help, then and then your child can get placed in long term residential until they are 18 or 21 and possibly even longer into adulthood. Just keep telling them you wont take them home and they may threatened you with CPS, but you need to keep the other safe.

    Yes, I have done many hospitalizations with my child and now at 14, she has been diagnosed with multiple personalities because of the lack of attachments, traumas and all those crappy adults that were supposed to have taken care of her in the system before she came to us. And yes, we heard she was fine, you guys are doing something wrong.

    This is my nightmare, but my child has been diagnosed with SO many diagnosis'.

    Have your child arrested, this was so hard for me that is why I went and got her out after 3 days, but I highly discourage against that. That was a big mistake.

    But now, she will live in long term residential, and we are still her family and we can know that we will all live another day safely. This is not use giving her back to the state, and this doesn't really apply to the adoption subsidy because of the juvinelle justice that placed her.

    If you don't want to do that then start the process with Community Mental Health and get the child committed, but that is a lot longer than having them arrested.

    I wanted to drive my car into on-coming traffic, I didn't want to go home, I cried and cried and was loosing my mind. Calling the police and telling them "I WANT TO PRESS CHARGES" was the best thing I ever did, for everyone, including my daughter because she is NOW recieving the help she needs.

    1. Thank you so much. I hear you ladies. We are going through it right now with our adoptive son. They want to send him home. He told us plans of stabbing us and burning down our home. Details. Beyond scary. He tried to wreck me. Children's services wants him out of residential and home. The case worker said we were part of the problem and should let him do whatever and we wouldn't be part of the problem. You all get it. These are very hurt children that we give our all for and it is never enough.

    2. I live in New Hampshire and my story is similar regarding my adoptive son. When he was 13 we pressed charges against him for domestic violence. My son is also adopted from foster care. He has spent the last 2 years in a state residential treatment center. He was placed by the courts so we do not have to pay for his treatment. It was the best thing we could have for everyone. He is getting the intense mental health help he needs and is safe. In addition, myself and other children our safe. We are still his parents and visit regularly . We love him and will always be his family. But things were very unsafe when he was living at home.

  5. Wow Cynthia, I wonder what state you live in? I have a teenage son that is so violent over the slightest thing. Told me he wants to stab our dog and commit suicide with me!! Of course, he was adopted. His adopted father is no where to be found and I have exhausted every resource you can imagine. Lost long time friends etc. I love him, and it is just him and me. He is always sorry after he brakes things and tells me he loves me. I just can't imagine what is going through his head to make such strange statements.

  6. I live in Michigan and I understand it is not my daughters fault but I cannot advocate, love or care for her if I am not alive. We adopted our daughter when she was 12 and she is now almost 14 all those years when she was younger she received no help. If you would like to chat my email is It was really hard to call the police and tell them we want to press charges against her and to watch her walk out in handcuffs but that was the first time I could actually sleep.

  7. I think my son has this he told me at 5 that his dad Sexually abused him. His dad was physically abusive to me and mentally abusive to me and my son. I left when my son told me I contacted the police but they dropped the charges. His dad was very controlling to my son. Hes 11 now hes set his brothers bed alight with him in it thankfully I caught it in time he always lies even if he's been seen he wets the bed and poos himself he necer eats he hates himself he shows no emotions or pain he has no friends been sent home from school so many times I lost count he rund away from mr no respect for the family or authority. Now I have social services involved and hes lying to them saying I want him in care he wants to go into care I make him do the washing but noe hes saying the social worker and school nurse is lying. Its got to the point that social services believe him and has put my children on a child protection plan for emotional neglect from me I've told them im fine all I want is respect from my son hr don't look at me and refuses to go to room or do something sd punishment. He ticks all boxes for this what can I do to see if this is why hes like he is. I lovr him so much and hate to see them on this plan when all I want is to keep my kids happy and safe with me

    1. I am sorry to hear about your story and I understand why child protective services did what they did. I hope your family is getting the help now that you need, but having expectations of your son respecting you seems like that would be asking something that he cannot provide.

      Based on your short post you son seems to be exhibiting Conduct Disorder and beginning stages of personality traits of Antisocial Personality Disorder (Psychopath and/or sociopath). He does not have any regard for human life or rules.

      I would be more concerned if he continues to stay in your home with other children and animals.

      Unfortunately, child protection persons usually do not have a working background with children like your son and do not see or understand the deception and mimicry that these children will often exhibit. These children learn to manipulate the system early for their benefit, but at the expense of family, friends and anyone standing in their way.

      I would not have hesitated on calling the police and pressing charges against my daughter if she set fire to anything in my home.

  8. I think my son has this he told me at 5 that his dad Sexually abused him. His dad was physically abusive to me and mentally abusive to me and my son. I left when my son told me I contacted the police but they dropped the charges. His dad was very controlling to my son. Hes 11 now hes set his brothers bed alight with him in it thankfully I caught it in time he always lies even if he's been seen he wets the bed and poos himself he necer eats he hates himself he shows no emotions or pain he has no friends been sent home from school so many times I lost count he rund away from mr no respect for the family or authority. Now I have social services involved and hes lying to them saying I want him in care he wants to go into care I make him do the washing but noe hes saying the social worker and school nurse is lying. Its got to the point that social services believe him and has put my children on a child protection plan for emotional neglect from me I've told them im fine all I want is respect from my son hr don't look at me and refuses to go to room or do something sd punishment. He ticks all boxes for this what can I do to see if this is why hes like he is. I lovr him so much and hate to see them on this plan when all I want is to keep my kids happy and safe with me

    1. Sexual abuse oftentimes is component of a child developing RAD. For boys, it is not uncommon for a RAD child to resort to abusive behavior in their efforts to not trust those who should be closest to them. Always lying and being emotionless are very big sings of RAD, so if he has not been diagnosed with the condition, it is likely that he possesses it. I understand your frustration with CPS as well. They are known for believing the lies spun from RAD kids in a hyperactive attempt to protect children from abuse. They are well-meaning, but their attempts are destructive. My advice is to find a way for the kid to be babysat elsewhere during the day, or sent to a boarding facility. It is important to not let the one child tear your entire family apart.

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  10. I adopted my two nieces the youngest has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol along with bi-polar schizophrenia.a long line of diagnoses but reading all the check lists for Rad this sounds like her.after Six years I got her into a 1 year treatment center one month into treatment I have Cps at my door with accusations of child abuse. I am so upset that I'm not sure I want to being her back home.

    1. In the same boat. Our 16 year old adopted daughter found her bio family and ran away for one month. Decided since we wouldnt give her her birth certificate and social, she would make accusations against us to CPS. Now we worry about the rest of our kids.

  11. My husband and I have had guardianship of our 10 year old nephew and 14 year old niece for just over a year. My nephew displays much of the behavior listed above as well as some additional behaviors I have been told are also RAD symptoms (ie he intentionally soils himself almost daily). As I have a total of 6 children in the home, I am beginning to feel that I am not able to provide him with the one on one attention he so obviously needs. My other issue is that he has tried to drown my 7 year old son and is very abusive with him. I'm not really sure what I should do. I feel awful that I haven't been able to help him more, the therapy hasn't been very helpful as he manipulates his therapist. His mother is no longer incarcerated and has been drug free for almost 2 years, but I worry that she does not have the capacity to care for him as well. Any ideas?

  12. I was taken away from my birth parents at the age of 10 months. I lived in foster care until I was five. I went to live with my adopted parents when I was five. I thought I loved my father but now I wonder if I just used him as a means to an end. I'm not sure. My mother and I never got along. She was the discipline person. I lied, I stole, not just from them but from other family members, people I babysat for, from stores it was horrible. I couldn't help myself. I didn't want to be that way. At 16 my parents put me in a group foster home because they could not handle me anymore. My uncle who worked with troubled kids told my mom I needed help but they just thought I was a juvenile delinquent and I never got the help I needed. I went on to have 5 children and to be married 5 times. I had trouble showing my children love though I didn't mistreat them and raised them mostly by myself in between husbands. I know now that I felt nothing for those men I just wanted to belong but I didn't know how to love. I tried to stop stealing and did pretty good. I don't steal now but there are times that the random thought to steal enters my mind and I have learned to say out loud "leave me alone" and the thought goes away. I have been diagnosed with bi polar disorder but I really think I have attachment disorder as I still have trouble feeling anything for anybody. I love my children in my own way but I still feel like I am detached from them. I don't hug or kiss and have a hard time saying I love you and when I do it feels empty. I am in my 70's and this still haunts me. I feel like the day is coming and I will die and I won't care because I never cared much about life to start with. I put on a good front but I feel like a fraud. I just needed to express this as I have never been able to share this with anyone. thank you

    1. I wish you would get this followup... If you do... I hope you will write me. My story is pretty close to yours, Im just 31 and despretely clinging on. Ive adapted and tried to adopt normal social behaviours but lately things seem to be spinning. I think I love the guy Im with.... but I dont really know what love is. No one believes that; they think its like I cant describe it. I truly dont know if I love my child or just trying to do my best to not get caught or fuck up to badly.

      Every support place is for parents with children like us... the words and things they say break my heart into thousands of pieces and then I never doubt why my mom gave me up, why my adoptive family kicked me out and why none of them will even talk to me. My stealing for the most part came to an end when I was arrested and got put into a program for a week to reform me. I know I was bad to them... I wish I could take it back... but likely I will mess it all up again. I havent talked to my adoptive mother or brother in 10+ years.

    2. Im so sorry you went through life feeling this way. I send you hugs for your bravery to share. Perhaps help others face their fears. Xox

  13. We adopted a sibling group of 7 almost 5 years ago--ages 5-15. We had no idea the extent of their damage--they had really good "coping" skills. They all have various levels of attachment disorder--but the 13 year old is full-blown RAD. She accused my husband of sexually molesting her--she says it happened once--a year and a half before. He is in prison, awaiting trial--even though we have 2 professionals who have talked to her and confirm she is lying. The oldest (and her 1-year old baby) moved in with their birth mother, the 16 year old is back in foster care to be near his sister--his choice, the 14 year old is living with friends of mine, and the 1 and 13 year old girls are placed in Boystown. I now have the youngest--and am working really hard with them to make sure they are properly bonded with me--and my 4 birth kids. I am sad and feel like I've failed--and also relieved that these angry, destructive, conniving children are no longer in my home. People--especially people who adopted from the foster system--need to be informed of this disorder--and be given support--both therapy and emotional support. If I'd had any idea....

    1. Hi. I can't help but think about what has happened to your husband? My son and daughter-in-law adopted 4 girls, sisters, who were severely neglected, abused by their biological mom and sexually molested by their bio dad for years. The girls suffered abuse from infancy till they were finally removed by authorities when they were 5, 6, 7 & 9 yrs of age. My son and his wife had the girls for 4 yrs. I won't go thru the challenges and difficulties they dealt with on a daily bases. My son practiced on a regular bases never to be alone with any one, individual, of the girls but what they didn't warn my son of was never to be alone with the girls, in a group, period. They all accused him of molesting them. Each girls accusation more horrific than the other. He's been to trial and convicted. Life in prison. The court wouldn't allow their history be introduced because the SA Office won the motion to implement the Rape Shield Law. His family and friiends believe in my son innocence. We've hired a new Atty and filed an appeal. As he waits behind bars to find out if he can get a new trial, does ANYONE have any suggestions where we can find additional help?

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  15. I truly and deeply understand how difficult and frustrating RAD is... just from a different perspective. I have RAD. I have read a lot of the comments here and understand your frustrations. I ask you not to lose hope in your child. I have had a biological family, adoptive family, and finally my loving real "foster" family. I am graduating this year with two bachelors degrees from college. I am still a huge part of my parents lives- love them very deeply and know I am unconditionally loved. I have talked to my parents in depth about everything we have gone through to get me to this point. They went to hell and back to teach me how to actually live life and that there was good in this world. My parents never gave up hope on me... which is one of the few four letters words I never understood until they took me in. A few others were: love, home, care, safe. I am not going to even try to downplay the torment I know all of you are in as parents of children with RAD. However, I will explain a bit of what that child is going through. They are feeling just as much torment, pain, fear, uncertainty as you are (sometimes more because of the pain that was caused before you). My mom used to tell me that when she got the most frustrated and angriest with me... she quickly realized it was because I needed her the most then, I was truly suffering then and trying to push her away (which was always the case. I went through sooo much abuse before I came to my real parents but the hardest thing I've ever faced in my life (until now) is trusting someone and allowing myself to be loved. It felt impossible, terrifying, and painful (both emotionally and sometimes physically) beyond most people comprehension. The two bachelor's degrees I will be graduation with are: neuroscience and psychology. Understanding my abnormal behavior coursework has been a breeze, however understanding the normal development stuff was very challenging for me. It was drilled into me that I was just an innocent kid, I was not bad, and it wasn't my fault (my current behavior was however my choice)... this is the reason I will me focusing my professional career and much of my personal time to helping and advocating for other kids, teens and young adults suffering from RAD. I will not lose hope in a kid suffering from RAD because I am proof that there is hope. While understanding the extreme challenges you are facing with your children... I still ask you not to lose hope. Please email me if you are struggling to keep the hope for your child's healing at

  16. Maybe someone can offer some suggestions because I'm not sure what to do next ..
    I'm one of my mothers 5 children. I have two older half brothers and 2 younger half sister's. Ages 13,16,26,34,36, we all have the same mom and all different dads. My mom never stayed around long enough to really raise any of us, but my 34 yr old brother and I knew her the best, she was around while we were kids floating in and out of our life. She died in 2008, her body shut down due to all the drugs and alcohol abuse, having kidney dialysis 2/3 times a week. Anyways. My 16 yr old sister has RAD. When she was 2 weeks old, cps took her and placed her with her dad's side of the family, they removed her when she was 8 months old because they neglected her and left her in her car seat and never hardly took her out. She then was placed with our aunt and uncle who she lived with for 8 years, (within those 8 years, she got in trouble at school for shoving a girls face into the chainlink fence, breaking our cousins arm, spraying bleach in her face, etc ) she was removed from there home because she lied and manipulated everyone...she bounced from a couple group homes, and got adopted by two amazing people. Ones a principle and the moms a school teacher. From the time they adopted her, at 8 years old till she was 15, we hadn't talkd, at all. No pictures no talking no nothing. well at our grandma's funeral all 5 of us reconnected and BAM she wants to move in wit me? Anyways, I rearanged my whole life, signed papers to be her gaurdIan (big mistake) & for the last 8 months, she's made my life a living hell. She had sex in my kitchen and my 4 year old walked in on them, shes very self absorbed, she had 88 abscences and 56 tardies the first semester of school because her make up was more important, I went out of town and she refused to stay at anyone's house so I let her stay home, and of course she had Givin my address out to a handful of guys. She lies like no other, it's like she has no soul? Shes down so pretty insane things, theres just to many to count. I ran out of options and we contacted the lawyer to reverse her adoption and make her a dependant of the state. Throw her back into the system which breaks my heart, but in the state of wa, she can check herself out of any kind of treatment facility. Idk what to do.