Behavioural disorders

November 12, 2012

Behavioural disorders

Generally speaking where a behavioural disorder is suspected a psychologist or psychiatrist will be involved in diagnosis in order to make a thorough evaluation of the reported difficulties. There is much controversy in the field especially with regard to diagnosis, labelling of children, causes of the disorders and treatment. The wide variety of identified specific disorders also causes difficulty – particularly for those such as teachers who may be dealing with cases of behavioural disorder on a daily basis. It is possible to define some general groupings however –

  • Conduct disorders – classified by type a diagnosis of conduct disorder will generally be based on the presence of anti-social behaviour. Children who exhibit early signs of conduct disorders are at increased risk of developing ¬Ďantisocial personality disorder¬í as adults. Children and teens with this type of behaviour disorder may seem callous, manipulative and hostile.

  • Emotional disturbances – are not always easy to detect and may included eating disorders, excessive reaction to stress, depression, self harming, substance abuse

  • Personality disorders – personality disorders tend to appear in early adulthood or the teenaged years, the individual will behave in a way that is very different from those around them. Sub-groups within this general set will include -

Schizotypal personality disorder – those with this type of behaviour disorder will appear mildly eccentric and uncomfortable in social situations or close relationships.

Borderline personality disorder – these clients will be extremely impulsive and unable to sustain stable relationships.

Dependent personality disorder – this behaviour disorder manifests itself with excessive clinginess and a need to be taken care of.

  • Anxiety disorders – the most common emotional behaviour disorder along with depression, this may cause children to be shy, nervous and to use avoidance techniques where there is a specific cause of the anxiety. Other than generalised anxiety disorder this grouping will include phobias, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorders and separation anxiety.

  • ADHD is the most common and probably most well known of the behaviour disorders. Inattentiveness, hyperactivity, restlessness, impulsiveness and impatience are all possible indicators for this disorder in children. ADHD can be destructive for the sufferer, his or her family and wider social circle and will probably impeded progression and success at school.

Despite ongoing research the exact cause of behaviour disorders of any kind has not been discovered, treatment generally includes a combination of medical and psychosocial methods. If performance at school is below what is expected then there are other things which may be considered, when noted, in order to effect a diagnosis of a child who appears to have developed a behaviour disorder.

  • Unexplainable inability to learn

  • Inability to maintain relationships with peer group and teachers.

  • Inappropriate behaviour or feelings

  • Persistent sadness or apparent depression

In all behaviour disorders there may be common characteristics whether internal or external -

  • Short attention span, impulsive behaviour

  • Aggression, self harm

  • Withdrawal from social situations

  • Failure to learn and progress

  • Immaturity

It should be noted that children or young people who have a behavioural disorder do not necessarily also have learning difficulties.

With the support of professionals and the implementation of a care plan children and young people who are perceived to behave in ways which are not the norm can nevertheless be helped and guided to a successful and fulfilling life.


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