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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Mental Health & Adopted Children: Oppositional Defiant Disorder

chsfsIn 2008, a psychological study done by the University of Minnesota examined 540 non-adopted kids, 514 internationally-adopted kids, and 178 domestically adopted kids, all ranging in age from 11 to 21. They polled the youths, the parents and the teachers of said children to determine mental health issues. The adopted children were found to be at double the risk for ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and other external behavioral problems, though only moderately at risk for internal mental health issues.

Adoptive families were also twice as likely to visit mental health professionals. Naturally, thatOptimized-happy-family-ADHD could be for a variety of reasons from attachment, to questions about their past, to psychological, emotional or behavioral issues.

Today, I am focusing on the second mental disorder under study because of its lesser-known nature. An adoptive parent might ask: is ODD normal teen behavior, or is it something different?

First let’s look at the laundry list of symptoms according to Psych Central. At least four of the following behaviors need to be present for at least six months to diagnose Oppositional Defiant Disorder:

adoption1“…losing temper, arguing with adults, actively defying or refusing to comply with the requests or rules of adults, deliberately doing things that will annoy other people, blaming others for his or her own mistakes or misbehavior, being touchy or easily annoyed by others, being angry and resentful, or being spiteful or vindictive.

Negativistic and defiant behaviors are expressed by persistent stubbornness, resistance to directions, and unwillingness to compromise, give in, or negotiate with adults or peers. Defiance may also include deliberate or persistent testing of limits, usually by ignoring orders, arguing, and failing to accept blame for misdeeds.”

Oh, and by the way, symptoms of the this behavior are usually seen manifesting with adults adoptive_family03or peers whom the child knows well, particular in the home setting. Rarely will these present in clinical settings, but you already knew that. Most of the children studied were not those brought from faraway at older ages, most of them adopted during the first year of birth.

Could that be normal teen behavior? Possibly. Possibly not.

What to do? Medications are not really recommended for ODD.

familyOne possibility for treatment is through parent training. Psychoeducational courses teach parents behavioral techniques for maintaining control and shaping the child’s behavior. This behavioral approach focuses on monitoring and rewards and could offer hope to many. Also, support groups for parents are recommended, probably because the monitoring part is so exhausting. But you knew that, too.

Hope this helps to validate any suspicions and get your whole family the help you may need. Things can turn around with the right interventions. Here at 3-D, we’re pulling for you!

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