Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships. Hazan and Shaver identified four styles of attachment: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant and fearful-avoidant. This pilot study set out to look at whether adults with mild/moderate learning disabilities could accurately self-report their attachment style.
The authors also wanted to look at whether there was Any relationship between attachment styles and challenging behaviour and/or mental health problems.
60 adults with learning disabilities along with 39 people who supported them completed questionnaires based on Hazan and Shaver’s attachment categories and mental health diagnoses. In addition, supporters were asked to provide information about challenging behaviour.
From the analysis of the questionnaires, the authors suggest that people with mild/moderate learning disabilities showed the same range of attachment styles as the general population. They found some links between challenging behaviour and insecure attachment with an association between depression and insecure-avoidant attachment.
The authors explore the potential application of attachment theory in therapy and at in relation to the development of policy. They suggest interventions could be developed that focus on attachment relationships. They also suggest that their findings question the notion that attachment behaviour is linked to challenging behaviour directly, certainly for people with mild moderate intellectual disabilities.
Attachment style and mental health in adults with intellectual disability: self-reports and reports by carers, Larson, F et al., in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 5, 3, 15-23