Preparing for your appointment

You may start by visiting your child's pediatrician. However, you may be referred to a child psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of reactive attachment disorder or a pediatrician specializing in child development.

Here's some information to help you get ready and know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Any behavior problems or emotional issues you've noticed, and include any signs or symptoms that may seem unrelated to the reason for your child's appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or life changes that you or your child have been through
  • All medications, vitamins, herbal remedies or other supplements your child is taking, including the dosages
  • Questions to ask your child's doctor to make the most of your time together

Some basic questions to ask your doctor may include:

  • What is likely causing my child's behavior problems or emotional issues?
  • Are there other possible causes?
  • What kinds of tests does my child need?
  • What's the best treatment?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • My child has these other mental or physical health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there any restrictions that my child needs to follow?
  • Should I take my child to see other specialists?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing for my child?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
  • Are there social services or support groups available to parents in my situation?

What to expect from your doctor

Your child's doctor or mental health provider is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on.

Some questions the doctor may ask include:

  • When did you first notice problems with your child's behavior or emotional responses?
  • Have your child's behavioral or emotional issues been continuous or occasional?
  • How are your child's behavioral or emotional issues interfering with his or her ability to function or interact with others?
  • Can you describe your child's and the family's home and living situation since birth?
  • Can you describe interactions with your child, both positive and negative?
July 13, 2017
References
  1. Reactive attachment disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed April 4, 2017.
  2. Facts for families: Attachment disorders. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Attachment-Disorders-085.aspx. Accessed April 4, 2017.
  3. Dickerson Mayes S, et al. Reactive attachment/disinhibited social engagement disorders: Callous-unemotional traits and comorbid disorders. Research in Developmental Disabilities. 2017;63:28.
  4. Zeanah CH, et al. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited social engagement disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2016;55:990.
  5. Coercive interventions for reactive attachment disorder. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/aacap/Policy_Statements/2003/Coercive_Interventions_for_Reactive_Attachment_Disorder.aspx. Accessed April 14, 2017.
  6. Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 25, 2017.
  7. Position statement on reactive attachment disorder. American Psychiatric Association. Reaffirmed, 2007.