Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) relates to attachment issues. These factors can interfere with children’s ability to value their relationships with others. RAD (reactive attachment disorder) is also an attachment disorder that affects children younger than 18 years of age. DSED and RAD occur in children who have been abused or neglected. DSED can’t be cured on its own. It requires treatment.
Young children who exhibit disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) suffer from this behavior disorder. A child with DSED finds it difficult to form an emotional connection with others. Yet, you may notice that there are children with DSED who can easily speak to strangers and mingle with them.
From causes to treatments, here’s everything you need to know about DSED.
Read: Types of Attachment Styles
What are attachment disorders?
Attachment disorders have been observed among children abandoned or affected by trauma as early as age two, such as poor parents or inadequate care. An individual may be unable to form close relationships with people because of this.
Based on the behavior of the child, attachment disorders fall into two categories:
1. Reactive attachment disorder (RAD): When RAD is present, it can make it difficult for a child to develop an emotional attachment to their parents or guardians. Interaction with others is frightening to these children, and they have difficulty managing their feelings.
2. DSED: Children with DSED are very friendly and outgoing, unlike children with RAD. They display socially disinhibited behavior. In other words, these people are impulsive and are open to talking to random strangers and unknowns. It may be difficult for them to form lasting bonds with others.
It is necessary to treat and care for children who suffer from attachment disorders. Attachment disorders may lead to mental disorders in later life if they are untreated.
Read: Expressive Language Disorder
Causes of DSED
The following reasons can lead to DSED in children:
- Childhood without a caregiver or parent
- Lack of emotional support, love or care as a child
- Abandonment or neglect by caregivers
- Caregiver changes or inconsistency of caregivers
- Negative childhood experiences, such as abuse or trauma
- Foster care or growing up in an orphanage
A child may find it hard to develop a deeper connection with other people if these factors are present. They may also appear to be overly friendly or carefree when influenced by it.
Read: Preoccupied Attachment Style
Symptoms of DSED
DSED can develop as early as 9 months of age. Children with even two of these symptoms are at risk for DSED:
- When they meet unknown people or strangers, they do not become shy or frightened.
- They engage in conversations with strangers or get physically close to them.
- Social norms dictate they act unacceptably.
- They leave their safe place and go away with a stranger.
- When they go away with a stranger, they don’t ask their caregiver.
- They have impulsive behavior and are socially uninhibited.
- There has been inadequate care or the child has been abused.
In children with DSED, it can be difficult to form warm, affectionate, or close connections with other people. When DSED remains undiagnosed, it can lead to the following problems:
- People with borderline personality disorder and other emerging personality disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral disorders
- Substance abuse and drug addiction
Read: Anxious Attachment Style
Diagnosis of DSED
It is important to remember that not all children who are friendly toward strangers have DSED. It is natural for your child to be conversant with others and outgoing. You will still need to approve the safety plan at all times.
When a child has DSED, they tend to be detached and don’t seek the approval of their caregiver. It may be a good idea to take your child to a doctor if they are not afraid to leave with strangers.
Pediatricians and therapists can diagnose DSED. Your child is observed and tested for mental health. It helps them better understand how your child feels, how he or she acts, and what motivates them.
Treatment of DSED
A specific treatment plan will be developed for your child if they are diagnosed with DSED. Your child will be able to overcome negative experiences and form meaningful relationships with you and others as a result.
Families can bond with the child by participating in DSED treatment. The following therapies may be offered to the child depending on his or her age:
- Talk therapy
- Toys and games for play therapy
- Art therapy
The therapist can also assist parents in strengthening the bond with their children by caring for and supporting them. A stable, safe and loving environment helps children recover more quickly.
Read: Avoidant Attachment Style
Untreated DSED can cause serious health problems. DSED is treated most effectively through therapy, although it can take a long time. Make sure you provide all the emotional support, loving care, and love your child needs.