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Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

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Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) usually becomes evident before age eight. Onset is typically gradual, occurring over the course of months or years. It is typically seen in more males than females before puberty, but the rates of occurrence are equal during adolescence.
Many of the symptoms of ODD are seen in children and adolescents with mood disorders and psychotic disorders; therefore, care should be taken in making a diagnosis.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders, and communication disorders are commonly seen in children with ODD. These behaviors must be seen more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level and must lead to significant problems in social or school functioning.

Symptoms The diagnosis of ODD differs from conduct disorder in that it excludes symptoms of violations of personal rights and social rules. The symptoms of ODD focus more on annoying, difficult, and disruptive behavior. Symptoms must be displayed regularly for at least six months.

  • Disobedient and hostile behavior toward authority 
  • Stubbornness 
  • Resistance to directions 
  • Unwillingness to compromise, give in or negotiate with adults or peers 
  • Deliberate or persistent testing of limits by ignoring orders, arguing and failing to accept blame for misdeeds 
  • Losing temper 
  • Arguing with adults 
  • Refusing to follow rules 
  • Deliberately doing things to annoy others 
  • Blaming others for his/her own mistakes or bad behavior 
  • Being easily annoyed by other people 
  • Being angry or resentful 
  • Being spiteful or vindictive

Causes The cause of oppositional defiant disorder is unclear. Research has shown that ODD is more common in children who have at least one parent with a history of a mood disorder, ODD, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse, or antisocial personality disorder. Also, this disorder is commonly seen in children whose parents have serious marital discord.

Treatments An effective medical treatment for ODD has not been found. Current treatments emphasize teaching the individual appropriate social skills, family therapy, placement outside the home, limit setting, consistency, and behavior management.
Treatment may include the management of other occurring disorders, such at attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or mood disorders, with appropriate medications.

Suggested Reading 

  • Educational Rights of Children with Disabilities, by Ordover, Eileen & Boundy, Kathleen 
  • High Risk, Children Without a Conscience, by Magid, Ken & McKelvey, Carole 
  • Kids Out of Control, by Cohen, Alan 
  • Neurobiological Disorders in Children and Adolescents, by Peschel & Howe 
  • What's Wrong With My Child? How to Understand and Raise a Behaviorally Difficult Child, by Gattozzi, Ruth

This information was provided by:

National Alliance on Mental Illness-Iowa
5911 Meredith Drive, Ste. E
Des Moines, Iowa 50322-1903
Phone: (515) 254-0417
            (800) 417-0417