Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

By Eileen Bailey

Children with ADD/ADHD have difficulties in school and social situation. They may have trouble paying attention, or difficulties with impulsiveness or hyperactivity. But for between one third and one half of these children, there may be another condition called ODD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  The major symptoms of ODD are defiance, extreme stubbornness, temper and anger problems, and being argumentative.  Boys are diagnosed with ODD more often than girls before puberty.  After puberty, this number becomes more even between girls and boys.  Although some experts believe that ODD may lead to Conduct Disorder, other experts disagree and believe these to be two separate mental illnesses. 

Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder include:

  • Argumentative
  • Problem with adults and other authority figures
  • Often has hard time either making friends or sustaining friendships
  • Anger problems, loses temper easily
  • Consistently blames others for their own mistakes
  • Annoyed easily
  • Can be vindictive
  • Frequently in trouble at school

When children are learning to be independent there is often a period of time when they are somewhat defiant. They may talk back to parents and teachers, they may disobey parents rules, defy parents and argue often. This is a normal part of a child’s development and occurs frequently when children are around two to three years of age and again in early adolescence. This normal behavior is different than that of ODD. In Oppositional Defiant Disorder, children can be openly hostile, very uncooperative and show anger easily and frequently. Children with ODD can be defiant consistently and more so than their peers.

Parents that believe their child may be showing signs of ODD should contact their physician and request a complete evaluation.  Physical causes of behavior should be ruled out. Once that is done, a comprehensive psychological evaluation is normally requested to determine an accurate diagnosis. Children with ODD often have co-existing conditions such as ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Depression or Bipolar Disorder.  An accurate diagnosis is essential to creating an effective treatment plan.

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