Children with conduct disorder tend to be impulsive, hard to control, and not concerned about the feelings of other people.
Symptoms may include:
- Breaking rules without obvious reason
- Cruel or aggressive behavior toward people or animals (for example: bullying, fighting, using dangerous weapons, forcing sexual activity, and stealing)
- Failure to attend school (truancy -- beginning before age 13)
- Heavy drinking and/or heavy illicit drug use
- Intentionally setting fires
- Lying to get a favor or avoid things they have to do
- Running away
- Vandalizing or destroying property
These children often make no effort to hide their aggressive behaviors. They may have a hard time making real friends.
Signs and tests
There is no real test for diagnosing conduct disorder. The diagnosis is made when a child or adolescent has a history of conduct disorder behaviors.
A physical examination and blood tests can help rule out medical conditions that are similar to conduct disorder. Rarely, a brain scan may also help rule out other disorders.