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Introduction to Disorders of Childhood

Andrea Barkoukis, M.A., Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 4th 2008

Children are precious; As parents we worry about their health. When our children have issues and crises, these issues and crises affect us just as much, if not more, than it affects them. We fear that which might bring them fear; we hurt when we see them hurt; and sometimes, we cry just seeing them cry. Writer Elizabeth Stone once said "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." So, when it seems like something is not quite right with your children - perhaps they seem more afraid than other kids, or they seem to get a lot angrier than their playmates do over certain things - this odd or "off" behavior can be experienced as terrifying. In fact, a child's difficulty can be just the starting point for your parental worry and concern. You might not know what to do to help your child, or where to go for help. Possibly, you may worry because you don't even know if your child's problem is something you should be concerned about in the first place.

We've created this survey of childhood mental and emotional disorders to help worried parents better understand the various ways that mental illness can effect children; what it looks like and how it can be helped. Children's mental and emotional disorders are problems that affect not only their behavior, emotions, moods, or thoughts, but can also affect the entire family as well. These problems are often similar to other types of health problems that your child might have, and can generally be treated with medications or psychotherapy (or a combination of both).

We're going to be using the term "childhood disorders" with some frequency. Many childhood disorders are often labeled as developmental disorders or learning disorders, so you may have heard those terms as well. Generally, when we speak about childhood disorders, we are referring to mental and emotional problems that most often occur and are diagnosed when children are school aged or younger. Usually, symptoms start during infancy or in early childhood, although some of the disorders may develop throughout adolescence.

The diagnostic criteria for the childhood disorders specifically require that symptoms first appear at some point during childhood. Adults may find themselves relating to some of the symptoms characteristic of one or more childhood disorders, but unless those adults first experienced their symptoms as children themselves, whatever it is that they may have will not be a childhood disorder, but instead, some other adult diagnosis.

Though by definition, no disorder discussed in this document may begin in adulthood, it is possible for a childhood disorder to begin at a young age but continue to be problematic on into adulthood. Conversely, some childhood disorders tend to resolve by the time children enter adulthood. Or, prior to adulthood, children may developed a set of coping skills that allow them to compensate for their disorder(s) so that they can go on to lead a happy and productive life. This latter outcome is especially likely when the right type of professional intervention has been obtained (and followed consistently) from an early age.


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Mental Abuse - I'mNotPerfect - Dec 20th 2011

i'm a 15 year old teenage girl. i have been mentally abused for almost 2 years by my birth mother.. that's what i call her, or by her first name. It may finally come to an end, because child services are contacting her. i have been really sick because of her. mentally and physically.  i lost 6 lbs. in less then 3 days. and went a week with pracically eating nothing. i almost was hospitalized.. i could not handle a thing anymore, not the depression, the anxiety...nothing. my body was in anxiety attacks 24/7.  My mind did not stop, i couldn't sleep.  i couldn't controll's one of the scariest feelings ever. ..but some how, i pulled through. i just want to let someone out there know. that they are not alone. they can pull through too! believe in YOURSElF. YOU are all you need. You can do it on your own.  i guess that's all i really wanted to say.

with lots of loveee.<3


But Maybe They're Just an Individual - DaringRachel - May 31st 2010

I'm a homeschooled high schooler and I have always been a tiny bit different from everyone else. I used to go to public school (during elementary school) and although I had no problem making friends, I've always felt better as an individual. I have always felt close to my mom, and we still are very close. I don't have any friends my age, and I like it that way. I interact much better with people that are older than me. I pass my days in my room, doing school work, reading, knitting, listening to music, and drinknig coffee. When I go out, I don't like to be around kids my age. I don't mind it, but I'd rather interact with someone older than me.

This makes me unique. An individual. Just because your kid doesn't act the same way as the other kids on the playground or in school, doesn't mean that they have a disorder. They might just be developing their own unique personality. This is not a bad thing. It's a good thing.

The reason I didn't fit in as much in public school is because I wasn't like everybody else. Even if I tried to fit in with one group or another, I never quite did because I wasn't willing to sell my soul to be just like these other people. I still wanted to be myself. I wanted to listen to the music that was popular when my parents were my age, not rap and country. I want to read the "geeky" fantasy books, not fashion and celeberty magazines. I want to read my textbooks for fun, not just skim over them. I want to watch the crime shows, not angsty-teen-anorexic-girl-gets-hot-guy shows. I want to be free! Not a clone.

Survey for Childhood Disorders - Ruth - Jun 3rd 2009

Maybe I missed something…but it seems your link is just looping readers back to the article and not a survey.

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