ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) by Dyslexia Dublin, © 2013
What is ODD and how can we begin to understand those with the condition?
ODD is thought to be a childhood disorder… however, although this starts in childhood it can continue, if unchecked, into adulthood.
What would be an example of a child presenting with ODD? Children would show above levels of anger, stubbornness towards those they consider to be in authority (teachers, parent/carers), compared to that of an average child.
This is seen as abnormal and in some cases the need to annoy or bother others is sought by those with ODD.
To get a diagnosis of ODD, a child must show signs for a period greater than six months and must be causing the family considerable distress at home and during other external activities, such as school and social settings, ie. scouts/guides. It’s worth noting that sensory issues can cause children to be bothered, as in extremes of noise and also others being tactile. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of getting an accurate understanding of the root cause, as this can lead to your child being excluded from these activities.
It’s also worth noting that this can co-exist with ADD or ADHD… try not to be confused with frustrated defiance or anger, as you may find in those with dyspraxia. Also, look at others around who might appear in the eyes of the one demonstrating bad behaviour as being more favoured, as again the attachment theory can come into play if the individual feels someone else is being favoured over them and they’re being neglected, bad behaviour can then ensue as a way of gaining attention. Separation anxiety can also cause an adverse reaction and again this must be taken into consideration… has the family had a change of routine recently?
We must also take into account immaturity and the lack of effective coping mechanisms. Some literally feel they have no other way of showing their dislike of others carrying on in a way that bothers them. It could be them singing in the car or dancing in front of the tv and they are simply not able to structure any reasonable way of communicating their dislike to the situation.
Things to watch for include:
Continues to obstruct others having fun by deliberate actions.
Shows a high level of resentment towards others and becomes very angry… for example it is someone else’s birthday and they are feeling left out (again be aware of separation anxiety).
Always argues, no matter what the requests are for.
Very short fuse (poor control of their temper).
Expresses evil thoughts and needs to seek revenge for anything that bothers them (vindictive).
Losing the run of themselves over very small things.
Has a tendency to blame others when thing go wrong, like maybe they have smashed a plate or something as simple as they have tripped up and it’s all your fault, even if you were miles away.
If your child is displaying half or more of these traits for a prolonged period, it could be well worth mentioning this to your GP or heath care worker (OT).
A comprehensive test and diagnosis is paramount, the information you give to the assessor is equally important and you should also mention other issues that bother you and the individual, such as disturbed sleep, stress, hyperactivity and sensory issues (noise, etc.).
There are many things that can be done from you understanding the condition through to parental training programmes and things that can help your child, such as:
Ignoring bad behaviour as this only pleases the individual.
Introduce measurable and achievable reward schemes (self-administered)… they choose 3 or 4 rewards they’d like at the end of the week (ie. cinema, park, McDonalds, etc.) and when there is a bad behaviour situation, then they themselves choose which one is taken away.
Give lots of praise for positive behaviour.
Try not to engage in a war of words, send them to a neutral corner and when they re-engage with the family talk it though at that point. They will be much calmer and more likely to give you the chance to explain the wrong they have done. At that point, also offer them the chance to right that wrong.
Try to make things achievable (rules should be age appropriate).
Try to maintain your interaction with others… don’t let the individual consume your every second.
Take time out when you can and let others share your load, otherwise you will become stressed and possibly depressed due to its longevity.
As we have briefly mentioned above, the need to sort this quickly will prevent problems both at home and socially. There are cases where this can develop into conduct disorder if left un-checked and lead to greater problems with higher levels of authority in teenage years and later life.
There are many organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) that provide invaluable information and I would suggest to anyone that has concerns around this area to look at the respective sites for further information.
We write all our articles for guidance purposes only and always stress the need for seeking professional advice.
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