Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity that is present before the age of 7 years. Inattention may interfere with social, academic, or occupational performance. In childhood, this often manifests in difficulty completing school-related tasks, messy schoolwork, careless errors, and difficulty following directions. Adults with ADHD frequently have difficulty organizing and completing tasks. High levels of distractibility and difficulty focusing and maintaining concentration are evident in both children and adults. Hyperactivity often involves excessive fidgetiness or squirming. Difficulty remaining seating, frequent running and climbing, and excessive talking are often noted. In addition to inattention and hyperactivity, impulsivity may also be present in the form of frequent intrusion of others’ conversations and difficulty delaying responses (e.g., blurting out answers in class). Ability to socialize and obtain/maintain friendships are often hindered as a result.
Learning Disorders are diagnosed when an individual’s academic achievement in a particular area is significantly below what is expected for the individual’s age, schooling, and level of intelligence. Learning Disorders are diagnosed in areas of Reading, Mathematics, and Written Expression. These learning problems significantly interfere with academic achievement or activities of daily living that involve these skills.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders are characterized by severe impairments in areas of development which may include reciprocal interaction skills, communication skills, or presence of stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities that are deviant from the individual’s developmental level.
- Autistic Disorder is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder that is marked by (1) a qualitative impairment in social interaction which may be manifested by impairment in nonverbal behaviors such as facial expression, eye contact, body postures, failure to develop peer relationships, lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests or achievements with others, and lack of social or emotional reciprocity; (2) impairments in communication which may include a severe delay or lack of spoken language, inability to sustain or initiate conversation, stereotyped or repetitive use of language, and/or lack of make-believe play; and (3) repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior and activities which may include preoccupation with parts of objects, repetitive motor behaviors (e.g., flapping, twisting), and inflexible adherence to nonfunctional routines and rituals.
- Asperger’s Disorder is a pervasive Developmental Disorder that involves impairment in social interaction and the development of restricted, repetitive behavior, interests, and activities as noted in Autistic Disorder. In contrast to Autistic Disorder, there are no significant delays in language, cognitive development, or adaptive behavior and self-help skills.
Conduct Disorder involves a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated. This may be in the form of aggression to people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, and/or serious violation of rules.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is characterized by a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures. This may be evident through frequent loss of temper, persistent arguments with adults, defiance of rules/requests, deliberate annoyance of others, frequent blame of others for one’s mistakes, and frequent displays of anger, resentment, spite, or vindication.