Most parents send their children with attachment disorder to school to expose them to a bigger environment where they can interact with other people normally. They are also expected to learn like any other students. However, the school can also affect them. According to Lawrence B. Smith in his publication Oil and Water: The Attachment Disordered Child and School, a school has certain characteristics that can intervene with the growth and development of students with attachment disorder:
1. External vs. Internal
Students are expected to follow certain external factors including schedule, curriculum, assignments, and other requirements. However, AD children are more concerned about keeping themselves safe, thus, there will be a difficulty for them to meet those demands.
2. Group Activities
Group collaboration is done to teach students the value of teamwork. However, this will not work on AD students because it will cause them anxiety to deal with multiple people simultaneously.
3. Temporal Experience
The focus of attention of AD students is the present time. They lack concern with the future. Thus, deadlines and appointment times exert little to no influence on their behavior. So, AD students are frequently late or oblivious to deadlines.
Gratification is a normal factor in school – awards, recognition, grades and approval which are normally given late or on the desired period. However, AD students want to be acknowledged immediately as delayed gratifications do not motivate them anymore.
5. Dual Role of Teachers
Teachers have a dual role as a provider of education and setter of limits to students. This dual role will conflict with AD students personal priorities. The first time a teacher blocks or limits an AD student’s desire, the teacher will be looked at as a persecutor rather an ally.
AD students believe that they know everything. They are not interested in asking, clarifying and engaging into knowledge-sharing activities.
One of the main protective strategies that AD students depend on to maintain their psychological safety is that of projection by which something that is true about the AD student is attributed or qualified to someone else.
8. Emotional Closeness
Every school year, teachers and the class of students change. AD students are at risk of having separation anxiety from those people whom they get together with for a period of time. This dilutes long-term relational demands.
9. School/Home Split
AD children usually seek to pit school versus home, in which typically makes the AD children consider their teachers as more preferred parental adult figures than their actual parents. With this, teachers should be aware of not forming any opinion about their relationship with their parents.
With this, learning institutions should devise strategies and techniques on how to accommodate the special needs of the children with attachment disorder.