A behavioural disorder in child and youth psychiatry is considered to be a psychiatric condition. Deviant behaviour determined by predisposition (heredity or a birth defect) is defined as a behavioural disorder. If the cause or origin of the issue is due to the environment, it is defined as a behavioural problem. Behavioural disorders in young people are classified as developmental disorders.
Often, a combination of a behavioural disorder and behavioural problems occur. It is difficult to strictly separate the two. The behavioural disorder manifests itself in behavioural problems that are usually considered as obnoxious by the child’s surroundings rather than by the child itself. Requests for help or support often come from the child’s social environment.
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD)
When children, teens and young adults show some kind of hyperactive behaviour over a minimum period of 6 months, an attention deficit disorder, impulsivity or hyperactivity might be at stake. When this diagnosis is indeed given or received, those involved should know that there is no generally accepted psychological or neurophysiological test that can clearly and univocally confirm it is ADHD.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
If there is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour deviating from standard peer behaviour or violating basic rights of others, we label it a behavioural disorder with disruptive behaviour, oppositional defiant and antisocial behaviour. These two conditions are also referred to as aggressive or disruptive behavioural disorders.
The DSM-IV-TR determines to what extent it concerns either an oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or an antisocial conduct disorder (CD). This is done by looking at the intensity of symptoms (fewer, just enough or more symptoms) and to the level of damage that has occurred (little, moderate or considerable damage).
Antisocial Conduct Disorder (CD)
In case of an antisocial or conduct disorder, there is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour violating fundamental rights of others. Often there are also important social standards and rules that apply to the peer group.
Antisocial behaviour in children, teens and young adults is categorised into three classes of behaviour, each having the potential to develop towards increasing or decreasing levels of problematic behaviour: conflicts with authorities, openly antisocial behaviour or less overt antisocial behaviour.
Antisocial behaviour includes the following: the child bullies, threatens or intimidates others, incites fights, uses weapons, steals (at home or elsewhere), exhibits cruelty to people and/or animals, forces others to have sexual contact, lies or breaks promises, stays away during the day or the night contrary to existing rules (aged 13 years and older), intentionally sets fires, damages public or private property, skips classes regularly (13 years or older) and breaks into buildings.
When these problems are diagnosed, we examine the child’s degree of awareness and insight with respect to the problem(s), downplaying and denial, social skills (aggressive expressions, physical or verbal) and relationships with peers/caretakers or educators (empathy and sense of guilt).
Current problematic behaviour may also be the result of experimental behaviour during a short period of time, or it may be that these are signs of some other kind of behavioural disorder. Among the socially underprivileged and in urban areas, antisocial or conduct disorders occur more frequently. Inciting factors may be parental rejection, a very authoritarian upbringing, frequent changes or the absence of parental figures.
Professional Help for Teens and Young Adults
Teens and young adults suffering from a behavioural disorder can be treated at Yes We Can Youth Clinics. The treatment should provide the child or adolescent with the opportunity to function in every part of society afterwards. A contextual approach entails that parents/carers (psycho-education and behavioural therapy) are also involved in the programme. Medication is either limited or not prescribed at all.
Professional help and assistance is needed because in this group we see a higher risk of depression and substance abuse.
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Yes We Can Youth Clinics can effectively treat teens & young adults struggling with behavioural disorders.
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