By Dan Blair, a marriage counselor and family counselor.
Question: with what are children most often diagnosed?
Autism is often first noticed by the parents when their baby does not respond to their affections. Autism is defined by impairments in social interaction and communication, and by repetitive behavior. Characteristics include not using proper eye contact, or deciphering facial expressions or gestures. This affects response in social interactions and recognition of emotions. Their ability to speak gets delayed and they develop other problems with speech as well. Autistic children show lack of symbolic play. They like repetitive actions with a particular toy or part of a toy. They may put toys in a row or drop objects from a particular height. They repeat words, actions, or routines obsessively. They avoid novelty rather than seek it.
While one can notice characteristics of autism, intelligence and verbal skills develop normally. Non-verbal communication through eye contact, facial expressions and gestures is not read naturally. The child may continue to talk regardless if the listener is interested or not. Motor skills may be delayed, and repetitive behavior is noticed.
Mental disabilities are determined by intelligence testing. Low scores and difficulty functioning in self-care, decision-making, and communicating mark mild, moderate, and severe categories. Most professionals focus on strengths of individual to assess ability to function.
Three common types of Learning Disorders include Reading Disorder (Dyslexia), Mathematics Disorder, and Expressive Language Disorder.
Reading Disorder includes problems recognizing words, comprehension, and written expression including spelling, grammar and punctuation. Mathematics disorder includes delays in counting and adding. Expressive Language Disorder is marked by difficulty articulating, using the right words or sounds, using short phrases, and stuttering.
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is marked by forgetting to pay attention, resulting in inconsistent attention. Symptoms of inattention include difficulty sustaining attention on completing tasks, skipping steps or moving too frequently from one activity or topic to another, being easily distracted, difficulty listening, and being forgetful and unorganized. In addition, symptoms of hyperactivity may be present. Symptoms of hyperactivity include fidgeting, difficulty staying seated, excessive running or climbing (or feeling restless), constant movement or talking, and loudness. People with this disability are impulsive, talking and acting without thinking of consequences, and tend to be easily upset and impatient.
Behavior Disorders/Emotional Disturbances
Three common types of Behavior Disorders/Emotional Disturbances include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is defined as time-consuming thoughts, images, or impulses and/or repetitive behavior (like hand washing, checking things to make sure they are okay, or ordering things) or mental acts (like repeating words silently, counting, or even prayer) that interfere with daily functioning. The thoughts are bothersome and require repetitive thoughts or behavior to ease the anxiety.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder can apply to children who have difficulty managing anger. Consistent symptoms include often losing one’s temper, arguing, breaking rules out of anger, frequently annoying others or being annoyed, blaming others and getting even.
Bipolar Disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings. A manic episode is an inflated view of oneself, while a depressive episode is a deflated view. Mood swings can occur rapidly especially in children, and aspects of episodes can occur simultaneously resulting in irritability and temper loss. The episodes are fluctuations in energy. Manic episodes can include over-confidence, determination, risk-taking, decreased need for sleep, fragmented talk and thought patterns, distractibility, and possibly misperception of reality. Depressive episodes include under-confidence, loss of interests, decreased or increased ability to sleep, decreased or increased appetite, fatigue, irritability, feeling guilty, difficulty making decisions, and possibly suicidal ideation.
Blair Counseling and Mediation typically treats Behavior Disorders/Emotional Disturbances and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.