What is Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder? DSED

Disinhibited social engagement disorder falls is a type of attachment disorder; where children have difficulty in developing healthy relationships with their caregivers. Attachment disorders have got two types; DSED and RAD (reactive attachment disorder). Today, we’ll discuss what is disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED); its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder? 

Disinhibited social engagement disorder is a form of attachment disorder, where children exhibit an overly emotional response to strange adults without any hesitation. They become over-friendly and seek out comfort from unknown adults by sitting in the laps of strangers; they don’t stress out without the presence of their caregivers.

Kids with DSED conditions don’t receive permission from their trusted caregivers for leaving a safe place or entering a strange situation that could be life-threatening. Children with this condition don’t give any preference to their caregivers and parents over strangers. In fact, they look for intimacy and affection from strange people that they aren’t familiar.

Symptoms of DSED 

According to DSM-5 (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition); a child should exhibit any of two following symptoms in order to meet the diagnostic criteria of DSED;

  • Limited interest or desire to take permission from the caregiver or trusted adult for leaving the safe situation; entering a situation that is threatening, strange, or foreign
  • Always ready and willing to leave the safe place with strangers
  • Their behavior and attitude toward strange people are talkative and overly friendly; physical in some instances that is not culturally acceptable or appropriate to their age
  • Communicating and meeting with unfamiliar and stranger adults and showing great excitement

DSED Symptoms among Children

  • Willing and always ready to engage and approach strangers
  • Extremely sociable
  • Limited social boundaries
  • Hyperactivity

Symptoms among Adolescent

  • Exhibiting limited inhibition and other behaviors
  • Capability to ask personal questions to the strange people they just acquainted
  • Limited awareness of their social boundaries
  • Highly trusting the people that they don’t know
  • Hyperactivity

Kids with DSED conditions are greatly at the risk of harming situations due to their willingness to connect, trust, and engage with strangers. They have difficulty in establishing a healthy love bond and connection with adults and other children.

Causes of DSED

There are various factors that may cause the development of disinhibited social engagement disorder. Usually, it happens because of the absence of a stronger long-term connection with their caregiver. Speaking of caregivers, they should have the following traits;

  • Feeding, sheltering, and offering emotional support to the child
  • Spending a lot of time with the child
  • Meeting the basic needs of the child

Kids with disinhibited social engagement disorders condition are from institutionalized systems like orphanages where the caregiver-to-child ratio is very high. Caregivers in such circumstances can’t spend a lot of time with one child. Children in foster care who move from one house to another repetitively, and don’t get adopted experience DSED conditions.

Neglect, extreme physical and emotional abuse, and traumatic experience in childhood are some of the risk factors. If children don’t have care from an adult, it would lower the traumatic experience. However, some of the factors that would amplify the risk are as follows;

  • Sexual abuse in the early life
  • Having a caregiver with a history of substance abuse and being raised in the absence of any parent or adult
  • Death of either both parents or one

Diagnosis of DSED 

Every child that contacts adults or strangers doesn’t necessarily mean a DSED condition. Usually, toddler develops this condition when separated from their parents or wanting to gain independence. Such kids would explore the world without the guidance of their caregivers and are attracted to others. Some children have got an outgoing personality naturally and they contact other adults in an exciting way.

In both cases, you should carefully monitor your children and check whether the child takes the caregivers’ permission while exploring the world of other adults or not. Both types of kids should be under the care of a caregiver, and the caregiver should know the type of person they’re exploring the world. That’s how you would know whether the child is outgoing or simply with a DSED condition.

Treatment of DSED 

The treatment plan for disinhibited social engagement disorder usually involves the whole family of the child. The object of talk therapy or psychotherapy is to relax the mind of the child; professionals would employ art and play therapy to ease the child’s mind.

The therapist would offer tools and techniques to the caregiving adults to use while interacting with the child in order to make them feel safe and cared for. The caregivers learn the techniques to make the kid feel secure for developing a healthy attachment. The recovery and improvement can be quick or gradual depending on the situation and age of the child.

Conclusion: What is Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder? DSED 

After an in-depth study of what is disinhibited social engagement disorder; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment; we have realized that DSED could badly impact the life of a person and put them in a very harmful situation. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist as soon as you can.