Child Psychologist On Common Childhood Disorders

Childhood psychological disorders are broadly categorized into anxiety disorders, attachment disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, and mood disorders.  Many of these disorders have strong genetic components, just like Autistic Disorder and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  These genetically-linked disorders tend to be identified early in the life of a child.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common childhood psychological disorders

and often cause significant impairment in the child’s daily functioning.  Under this category are separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the various phobias.

A child can also be diagnosed to have reactive attachment disorder, which is a condition where the child is having difficulty forming and maintaining healthy social relationships with his or her parent or primary caregiver. This disorder is often seen in those children who received abusive or neglectful care during their early childhood.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a type of Disruptive Behavior Disorder, is a childhood psychological disorder

most often diagnosed when a child enters elementary school. There are three cardinal symptoms that define ADHD:  inattention, poor impulse control, and hyperactivity.  Children with ADHD frequently have low self-esteem, poor interpersonal relationships, and have academic underachievement.  In addition to ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder – characterized by a tendency toward anger, argumentativeness, and resisting rules and requests – and Conduct Disorder – typified by aggression, violation of rules, destruction of property, deceitfulness, theft, and lack of empathy – are also types of Disruptive Behavior Disorders.

The spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders includes Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.  Children with autism have disordered and delayed communication, problems with social interaction, and have restricted range of interests – all occurring before age three, as opposed to those affected by Asperger’s Disorder, whose communication skills are, essentially, intact.  Children with Rett’s Disorder have apparently normal pre- and post-natal development through the first five months of age; after which, these children experience the onset of loss of head growth, development of uncoordinated hand skills and, often times, stereotyped hand movements, loss of social engagement, poorly coordinated gait, and severely impaired language skills. Those children diagnosed with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder have, apparently, normal development for the first two years of life after birth, but then experience a loss of previously acquired skills including loss of language skills, social or adaptive skills, bowel or bladder control, play, and motor skills.  These children also display impairments in social interaction, communication, and show stereotyped or repetitive movements and mannerisms.

Just like in adults, Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, and Bipolar Affective Disorder, which all fall under the category of Mood Disorders, are also seen in children.  Because of the episodes of mania, depression, or a combination of the two, along with the shifts in energy, behavior, and thinking, there is, likewise, an interference with the child’s normal, healthy functioning.  Depressive Disorders in children, though, often reveal themselves differently than they do in adults with children more often displaying somatic complaints, like headaches and stomach aches, and anxious mood in addition to bouts of crying.

These disorders should not be left untreated, because they often do not disappear spontaneously.  Early treatment is warranted so as not to worsen the course of these conditions.