Conduct disorder in children
This paper will examine Conduct Disorder in children. A description of the disorder's subtypes and various methods of diagnosis will be discussed. Specific attention will be given to the method of counselling a prepubescent child who is causing serious problems in school for both teachers and classmates. The skills and strategies used to counsel this child's parents and teachers will also be outlined. Conduct Disorder is defined as classified in a group of Disruptive Behaviour Disorders, which cause impaired academic and social functioning in a child (Sadock). The DSMIV defines Conduct Disorder as "a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour, in which the basic rights of others or major age appropriate societal norms or rules are violated". Behaviours typical of Conduct Disorder include: serious violation of rules, destruction of property, aggression to people and animals and deceitfulness and theft. Three or more of these behaviours must be present with the past 12 months and at least one in the past 6 months for a positive diagnosis to be made. In addition to the above criteria the child's behaviour must be severe enough to cause dysfunction in their social, school or work environment. (Sarason & Sarason). Three subtypes exist based on the age of onset: Childhood-onset, Adolescent-onset and Unspecified type. Severity of the disorder is usually classified as Mild, Moderate or Severe. The childhood-onset type, is defined by one characteristic criteria of conduct disorder before the age of 10. Children with childhood-onset conduct disorder are usually male, and frequently display physical aggression; they usually have disturbed peer relationships, and may have had oppositional defiant disorder during early childhood. These children usually meet the full criteria for conduct disorder before puberty, they are more likely to have persistent conduct disorder, and are more likely to develop adult antisocial personality disorder than those with the adolescent-onset type (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). The adolescent-onset type, is defined by the absence of conduct disorder prior to age 10. Compared to individuals with the childhood-onset type, they are less likely to display aggressive behaviours. These individuals tend to have more normal peer relationships, and are less likely to have persistent conduct disorders or to develop adult antisocial personality disorder. The ratio of males to females is also lower than for the childhood-onset type (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Conduct disorder is classified as "mild" if there are few, if any, conduct problems in excess of those required for diagnosis and if these cause only minor harm to others (e.g., lying, truancy and breaking parental rules). A classification of "moderate" is applied when the number of conduct problems and effect on others are intermediate between "mild" and "severe". The "severe" classification is justified when many conduct problems exist which are in excess of those required for diagnosis, or the conduct problems cause considerable harm to others or property (e.g., rape, assault, mugging, breaking and entering) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Treatment
A number of interventions have been identified which are useful in reducing the prevalence and incidence of conduct disorder. Interventions consist of prevention and treatment, although these should not be considered as separate entities. Prevention addresses the onset of the disorder, although the child has not manifested the disorder, and treatment addresses reduction of the severity of the disorder. In mainstream Psychology, prevention and treatment for Conduct Disorder primarily focuses on skill development, not only for the child but for others involved with the child, including the family and the school environments. As previously discussed there may be clinical advantages in applying nutritional supplementation and...
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