The beginning of April kicked off Child Abuse Prevention month across the country and a Colorado-based institute is set to hold a workshop to bring awareness about child abuse to the Wyoming public.

To increase understanding about child abuse and neglect, the Institute for Attachment and Child Development is holding free public workshop,  'Understanding Reactive Attachment Disorder', on the University of Wyoming campus on April 17.

Nichole Noonan, director of communications for IACD, said the workshop will explore a little- known aspect of child abuse- Reactive Attachment Disorder- that can have significant ramifications in the future of an abused child.

“With child abuse, I think that most people don’t understand what happens when kids are abused and neglected,” Noonan said. “And few people know what Reactive Attachment Disorder is – a lot of people have never heard of it.”

Noonan said children who are abused and neglected before the age of five years old are at a high risk of developing RAD, characterized by an inability to form functioning relationships with other people. Noonan said children who aren’t treated effectively will likely experience life-long problems and are at a higher risk for incarceration or self-harm.

“The workshop that we’re doing will be educating the general public about what RAD is in the first place,”she said. “And then we will help parents to have a resource- adoptive parents mostly- and then for professionals to start to understand what this is.”

Noonan said that one of the challenges that accompanies RAD is that traditional therapy is not an effective treatment for the disorder.

The workshop will include guest speaker Forrest Lein, executive director of IACD. Lein is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer and consultant on subjects related to emotionally disrupted children and the people who live and work with them. He has presented over 300 workshops on the subject and frequently works with professionals who work in residential treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, foster care/adoption programs and attachment clinics and has been featured as an expert in reactive attachment disorder in programs such as HBO, 20/20 and The Today Show.

The workshop is being hosted jointly by UW, IACD and Ivinson Memorial Hospital. IACD is a Littleton, CO institute established in 1972. Noonan said IACD uses a unique treatment model for children with RAD that involves the children living with ‘therapeutic treatment parents’ as well as treatment from IACD’s therapists and neural feedback specialists, who all work together to help the child bond with their adoptive family. Noonan said she is unaware of any other institute that follows this model.

Noonan said that IACD is working with the state of Wyoming to try to expand their operations into Wyoming.

The workshop will be held on the UW campus, in the Classroom building room CR-302 on Tues, April 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. Those interested in attending can register and receive a map by emailing claire@instituteforattachment.org. More information on the event can also be found on ICAD’s website.