Behavioral disorders are among the most puzzling special needs. Some behaviors seem to be embedded in other special needs. (The autistic child is often obsessed with routine, and yet autism is a condition in and of itself.) Physiological, chemical, genetic, and environmental causes play a part in behaviors, but many emotional and behavioral concerns remain a mystery.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
The child who is obsessive-compulsive believes things must be done a certain way. Rituals of the child might include bathing (how long he bathes or how often he does so), eating (the arrangement of foods on the plate and the order in which they are eaten), and routines (dressing, eating breakfast, brushing teeth — in a consistent order).
Sometimes the rituals have little impact on others and help the child stay calm and focused. Most of the time, however, the rituals become so irrational that they are disruptive to the child's functioning at school and to the day-to-day life of his family.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
The child who has oppositional defiant disorder is easily angered. It may seem that when you say “stand,” your child sits. You say “yes”; he says “no.” It is possible for the child with oppositional defiant disorder to work himself into an argument even when you are in agreement.
A child with oppositional defiant disorder will have difficulty in a variety of situations at school. If you question his impulsive actions in the cafeteria or on the playground, he will see little reason to have followed the rules. In the classroom, he may get upset about the requirements of an assignment (especially if there are multiple parts) and opt to do it his way.
Other Behavioral Disorders
Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, neurosis, psychosis, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, anorexia, and bulimia are other behavioral disorders that can affect children in every area of their lives. Consult your child's doctor or teacher for resources to meet your child's unique needs. Parenting groups are also great places to exchange ideas with families struggling with similar situations.