Oppositional Defiant Disorder – What It Really Means
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a diagnosis that was developed in the 1980s. It is defined in the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least six months. Obviously, all children engage in these behaviors periodically, but when the behaviors are recurrent and impact daily life, the child may have ODD.
In-order to officially receive the diagnosis, there must be at least four of the following symptoms:
There are three settings that we look at when analyzing a child’s behavior: home, school, and social interaction with peers. Some children have symptoms of ODD in only one setting, whereas others will have symptoms in all three.
There is no medication for ODD. Medication is only appropriate if the child has another diagnosis in addition to ODD such as ADHD or an anxiety disorder.
Specific intervention for ODD are cases specific – and depend widely on the root of the child’s behavior. Some children do not naturally know how to regulate their emotions or tolerate frustration. Other children developed these behaviors in response to abuse or neglect. Sometimes, there is an illness or death in the family that can greatly affect the child. The parenting style of the child’s parents might also be a factor. Also, conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, or learning disorders can be a major factor in the child’s behavior.
There are many possible interventions for ODD. Some are focused on the interaction between the parents and the child, others are more focused on the child and often, a focus on both is needed.
The ODD diagnosis is more complicated than symptom evaluation and should only be made by a clinician who has experience with ODD. It is important to note, that a child with an ODD diagnosis does not have a disease. Rather, he has a series of behaviors that must be addressed. Furthermore, the diagnosis of ODD itself does not offer a complete picture of the child’s challenges and instead may act as a ‘red-flag’ to ensure the child received the appropriate help.