According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), “Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), there is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster’s day to day functioning.” A child with oppositional defiant disorder can be challenging for a parent to handle. A parent may feel frustrated, angry and depressed when it comes to knowing at first on how to handle their child. AACAP has also stated, “Oppositional behavior is often a normal part of development for two to three year olds and early adolescents. However, openly uncooperative and hostile behavior becomes a serious concern when it is so frequent and consistent that it stands out when compared with other children of the same age and developmental level and when it affects the child’s social, family, and academic life.” To help us further understand oppositional defiant disorder I have interviewed family therapist intern Kathleen Oravec.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a graduate of University of San Francisco MA Counseling Psychology. I have extensive experience in working in residential treatment centers and group homes with adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems. I have also worked as an on site school counselor with grades kindergarten through 8th. Currently, I am employed as a clinician at a psychiatric hospital where I help adolescents and adults when they are in crisis. I also work in a private practice setting as a Marriage Family Therapist Intern. I have completed the 3000 hours as required by the state in order to take the licensing exams. I hope to take them this summer!”
What are the signs and symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder?
“It is a recurrent pattern of disobedient, hostile, defiant behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least six months. It is characterized by the frequent occurrence of at least four of the following behaviors: losing temper, arguing with adults, deliberately, doing things that will annoy other people, blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior, being touchy or easily annoyed by others, being angry and resentful
or being spiteful and vindictive.”
What type of impact does oppositional defiant disorder have on a child’s life?
“Children with oppositional defiant disorder can experience rejection by peers and classmates because of poor social skills, along with annoying, aggressive behavior. Also, a child with oppositional defiant disorder has a greater chance of developing a more serious behavioral disorder called conduct disorder. When started early, treatment is usually effective.”
What type of help is available for someone who has oppositional defiant disorder?
“When a parent first notices the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder, it is best to take the child to a physician to rule out any medical or neurological problems. There are no lab tests to specifically diagnose oppositional defiant disorder; the physician may use various tests, to rule out physical illness or medication side effects as the cause of the symptoms. The physician also will look for signs of other conditions that often occur along with oppositional defiant disorder, such as ADHD and depression. If the physician cannot find any physical cause for the symptoms, he may refer the child to a psychologist or psychiatrist for evaluation and diagnosis.”
What advice would you like to leave for a friend or family member who knows of someone who has oppositional defiant disorder?
“Treatment is based on many factors, including the child’s age, the severity of symptoms, and the child’s ability to participate in therapies. Treatment can consist of the following:
“Psychotherapy is aimed at helping the child develop more effective ways to express and control anger. A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to reshape the child’s thinking to improve behavior. Family therapy may be used to help improve family interactions and communication among its members. There is no medication formally approved to treat oppositional defiant disorder, various drugs may be use to treat some of the distressing symptoms.”
Thank you Kathleen Oravec for the interview. For more information about Kathleen Oravec check out her website at www.sacramento-therapist.com.