Ken Wilson’s Case
Adapted from Case Studies in Abnormal Psychology 9th ed., by Oltmanns, Martin, Neale & Davidson, 2012.
Ken Wilson is a 7-year-old, first-grader who has been referred by his mother to a child psychology clinic. She explained that Ken was having trouble at school, both academically and socially. Ken’s parents had been married for 12 years. His father was a business manager, and his mother, a homemaker. Ken was the middle of three children; his older sister was 9, and his younger brother was 4. Neither sibling was having any apparent problems. Mrs. Wilson had a full-term pregnancy with Ken. The delivery was without complication, although labor was fairly long. According to his parents, Ken’s current problems began in kindergarten. His teacher frequently sent notes home about his disciplinary problems in the classroom. In fact, there had been concerns about promoting Ken to the first grade. The final result was a “trial promotion.” Everyone hoped that Ken would mature and do much better in first grade, but his behavior became even more disruptive. Ken’s mother had received negative reports about him from his teacher several times over the first 2 months of school. His teacher reported that he didn’t complete his work, was disruptive to the class, and behaved aggressively. Ken’s parents described him as a difficult infant, much more so than his older sister. He cried frequently and was described as a colicky baby by their pediatrician. He did not eat well, and his sleep was often disturbed and restless. As Ken grew, his mother reported even more difficulties with him. He was into everything. Verbal reprimands, which had been effective in controlling his sister’s behavior, seemed to have no effect on him. When either parent tried to stop him from doing something dangerous, such as playing with an expensive vase or turning the stove off and on, he would often have a temper tantrum that included throwing things, breaking toys, and screaming. His relationship with his sister was poor. He bit her on several occasions and seemed to take delight in trying to get her into trouble. His parents described a similar pattern of aggressiveness in Ken’s behaviour with the neighborhood children. Many of the parents no longer allowed their children to play with Ken. They also reported that he had low frustration tolerance and a short attention span. He could not stay with puzzles and games for more than a few minutes and often reacted angrily when his brief efforts did not produce success. Going out for dinner had become impossible because of his misbehavior in restaurants. Even mealtimes at home had become unpleasant. Ken’s parents had begun to argue frequently about how to deal with him. School records generally corroborated his parents’ description of Ken’s behaviour in kindergarten. His teacher described him as being “distractible, moody, aggressive,” and a “discipline problem.” Toward the end of kindergarten, his intelligence and academic achievement were tested. Although his IQ was placed at 120, he did not perform very well on reading and mathematics achievement tests. An interview with Ken’s first-grade teacher provided information that agreed with other reports. Ken’s teacher complained that he was frequently out of his seat, seldom sat still when he was supposed to, did not complete assignments, and had poor peer relations. Ken seemed indifferent to efforts at disciplining him. Once while being in the class, he jumped up to look out the window when a noise, probably a car backfiring, was heard. He went to talk to other children several times. Ken got up twice and just began walking quickly around the classroom. Even when he stayed seated, he was often not working and instead was fidgeting or bothering other children. Any noise, even another child coughing or dropping a pencil, distracted him from his work. When his teacher spoke to him, he did not seem to...
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