Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder On The Autism Spectrum & Is It A Disability?

The oppositional defiant disorder is a behavioral disorder that usually occurs in young children. It manifests itself inconspicuously angry, negative and defiant behavior of the child towards parents, authority figures and also peers. The disorder is one of the most common psychological problems in childhood; boys are affected more often than girls.(1)

This behavioral disorder occurs in 1-16% of school-age children. However, it is important to distinguish between the following: whether the symptoms are actually troubling or whether they only appear temporarily; for example, when the child is hungry, or tired and exhausted.

It is normal for children between the ages of 2 and 3 to show such behavior for a short time. So, a serious problem only arises when this challenging and rebellious attitude repeats itself more and more frequently. It is also essential to notice if this defiant behavior affects the learning process, the lessons or the relationships with the classmates.(1)(2)

Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder On The Autism Spectrum?

ODD or Oppositional defiant disorder is a behavioral problem and diagnosed mainly in childhood. Children with oppositional defiant disorder are defiant, unhelpful, and hostile to their friends, teachers, parents, and other adults with authorities. They are more worried by others than themselves.

A large proportion of children with autism spectrum disorder show symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder which are characterized by hostile and provocative behaviors against adults.

In ASD, symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder are common, but little is known. Oppositional defiant disorder functions include symptoms of anger and agitation, controversial and provocative behavior, and revenge. This is based on the findings of the non-autistic population, and each of these opposing dimensions has a unique constellation associated with internal and external psychopathology. It is important to evaluate these problems as separate structures.(2)(3)

Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder A Form Of Disability?

Oppositional defiant disorder is a mental disorder that usually affects a teenager. If your child has an oppositional defiant disorder and an impact on their job, they may be eligible for disability assistance from different programs.

Oppositional defiant disorder Children do not perceive their behavior as provocative when they are asked to act normally; they feel that others have made unreasonable demands on them. Some children have oppositional defiant disorder because they suffer from anger and irritability, but sometimes they may feel frustrated and stiff. These children may not have intentionally a violating attitude.(3)(4)

The causes of oppositional defiance are unknown. The symptoms can also not always be clearly assigned to the mental disorder since healthy children can also react aggressively and defiantly when they are tired, excited or hungry. However, if the conspicuous behavior occurs more frequently for no apparent reason, a visit to the child psychologist is advisable. Typical signs of the disease include over-arguing and questioning rules against parents, refusing to accept and obey rules, frequent outbursts of anger, and a sharp and aggressive manner of speaking. Children who suffer from oppositional defiance often blame others for their own mistakes, annoy others very often and immediately take revenge when they feel annoyed.

Defiant behavior with a pattern of recurring negative, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior towards authority figures that lasts at least six months can be due to oppositional defiant disorder. The disturbance is characterized by the frequent occurrence of at least four of the following behaviors:

  • Those affected quickly become angry
  • Argue with adults actively oppose the instructions or rules of adults or refuse to follow them
  • The child deliberately annoys others or blame others for their own mistakes or misconduct, cannot recognize the individual part in problem behavior or conflict
  • They are irritable or easily irritated by others, are angry and offended or malicious and resentful
  • The diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder is often made especially in connection with ADHD children. It is important to distinguish a colloquial understanding of hostile behavior from the criteria of child and adolescent psychiatry.
  • For a clinical diagnosis, serious problem behavior must be present before the 9th to 10th year of life (i.e. before the onset of puberty).(5)

Diagnosis And Treatment Options For Oppositional Defiant Disorder

If there is a suspicion that a child is suffering from oppositional defiance, the psychologist conducts intensive surveys of the child’s behavior. He observes the child over a longer period of time and carries out psychological tests. Individual treatment therapies or family therapies are available for treatment. Another option is peer group therapy, which specializes in the development of interpersonal and social skills.(6)

References:

  1. Schoorl J, van Rijn S, de Wied M, Van Goozen S, Swaab H. Boys with oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder show impaired adaptation during stress: An executive functioning study. Child Psychiatry & Human Development. 2018;49(2):298-307.
  2. O’Kearney R, Salmon K, Liwag M, Fortune C-A, Dawel A. Emotional abilities in children with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD): Impairments in perspective-taking and understanding mixed emotions are associated with high callous–unemotional traits. Child Psychiatry & Human Development. 2017;48(2):346-357.
  3. Herpers PC, Bakker-Huvenaars MJ, Greven CU, et al. Emotional valence detection in adolescents with oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder or autism spectrum disorder. European child & adolescent psychiatry. 2019;28(7):1011-1022.
  4. Pondé MP, Matos ML, de Oliveira CCPB. Prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Brazilian Journal of Medicine and Human Health. 2017;5(2):39-46.
  5. Kimonis ER, Frick PJ, McMahon RJ. Conduct and oppositional defiant disorders. 2014.
  6. Vanzin L, Mauri V. Understanding Conduct Disorder and Oppositional-Defiant Disorder: A guide to symptoms, management and treatment. Routledge; 2019.

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