A professional assessment is necessary to determine whether or not a child has an Attachment disorder. At the Center we use several tests as part of a comprehensive assessment to determine what attachment issues are causing problems and what will be the most effective treatment plan. We work very closely with the parents to develop a plan to help remediate attachment problems. This checklist can help you identify areas of potential problem. This checklist is not meant to substitute for a professional assessment and treatment plan. Circle the items if they are frequently or often true.
1. My child acts cute or charms others to get others to do what my child wants. 2. My child often does not make eye contact when adults want to make eye contract with my child. 3. My child is overly friendly with strangers. 4. My child pushes me away or becomes stiff when I try to hug, unless my child wants something from me. 5. My child argues for long periods of time, often about ridiculous things. 6. My child has a tremendous need to have control over everything, becoming very upset if things don't go my child’s way. 7. My child acts amazingly innocent, or pretends that things aren't that bad when caught doing something wrong. 8. My child does very dangerous things, ignoring that my child may be hurt. 9. My child deliberately breaks or ruins things. 10. My child doesn't seem to feel age-appropriate guilt when my child does something wrong. 11. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to other children. 12. My child seems unable to stop from doing things on impulse. 13. My child steals, or shows up with things that belong to others with unusual or suspicious reasons for how my child got these things. 14. My child demands things, instead of asking for them. 15. My child doesn't seem to learn from mistakes and misbehavior (no matter what the consequence, the child continues the behavior). 16. My child tries to get sympathy from others by telling them that I abuse, don't feed, or don't provide the basic life necessities. 17. My child "shakes off" pain when hurt, refusing to let anyone provide comfort. 18. My child likes to sneak things without permission, even though my child could have had these things if my child had asked. 19. My child lies, often about obvious or ridiculous things, or when it would have been easier to tell the truth. 20. My child is very bossy with other children and adults. 21. My child hoards or sneaks food, or has other unusual eating habits (eats paper, raw flour, package mixes, baker's chocolate, etc.) 22. My child can't keep friends for more than a week. 23. My child throws temper tantrums that last for hours. 24. My child chatters non-stop, asks repeated questions about things that make no sense, mutters, or is hard to understand when talking. 25. My child is accident-prone (gets hurt a lot), or complains a lot about every little ache and pain (needs constant band aids). 26. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to animals. 27. My child doesn't do as well in school as my child could with even a little more effort. 28. My child has set fires, or is preoccupied with fire. 29. My child prefers to watch violent cartoons and/or TV shows or horror movie (regardless of whether or not you allow your child to do this). 30. My child was abused/neglected during the first year of life, or had several changes of primary caretaker during the first several years of life. 31. My child was in an orphanage for more than the first year of life. 32. My child was adopted after the age of eighteen months.
If you find that more than a few items (more than five or so) have been circled, your child may be experiencing difficulties that require professional assistance. If, in addition to several items being marked, any of the last three items is check, your child may be experiencing attachment related problems.
Arthur Becker-Weidman, Ph.D. is Director of The Center For Family Development, an Attachment Center in Western New York that specializes in the treatment of adoptive families and their children. He can be reached at 716-810-0790.