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Introduction to Disorders of Childhood

Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses

Children are precious; As parents we worry about their health. When our children have issues and crises, these issues and crises affect us just as much, if not more, than it affects them. We fear that which might bring them fear; we hurt when we see them hurt; and sometimes, we cry just seeing them cry. Writer Elizabeth Stone once said "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." So, when it seems like something is not quite right with your children - perhaps they seem more afraid than other kids, or they seem to get a lot angrier than their playmates do over certain things - this odd or "off" behavior can be experienced as terrifying. In fact, a child's difficulty can be just the starting point for your parental worry and concern. You might not know what to do to help your child, or where to go for help. Possibly, you may worry because you don't even know if your child's problem is somethi...More

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses can children be affected by?

  • Intellectual disabilities are a specific type of disability that is caused by limited mental capacity (intelligence). These limitations make it difficult for someone to care for themselves without additional support.
  • Children that appear to have extremely poor coordination that interferes with achievement or age-appropriate activities of daily living (e.g., walking, playing catch, etc) may be suffering from a Motor Skills Disorder.
  • Children or adolescents may be diagnosed with a Learning Disorder when their achievement on standardized tests in reading, mathematics, or written expression is significantly below what is expected for their age, schooling, or level of intelligence.
  • Communication Disorders are problems of childhood that affect learning, language, and/or speech.
  • A child who demonstrates severe and persistent difficulties in several areas of development (social interactions, language and communication, repetitive and stereotypical behavior) may be affected by a Pervasive Development Disorder.
  • Children who have chronic difficulties in maintaining attentional focus, completing work, being impulsive, or repeatedly engage in antisocial behaviors such as lying and cheating may have one or more Attention-Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders. The disorders in this category include Conduct Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
  • Disorders in the "Feeding and Eating Disorders of Infancy or Early Childhood" category include Pica, Rumination Disorder, and Feeding Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood. 
  • Elimination disorders (Enuresis and Encopresis) occur when children who are otherwise old enough to eliminate waste appropriately repeatedly void feces or urine in inappropriate places or at inappropriate times.
  • Selective Mutism occurs when a child persistently fails to speak in certain social situations where speaking is expected.
  • Children and adolescents affected by Separation Anxiety Disorder become severely distressed when separated from their familiar surroundings and caregivers.
  • In Reactive Attachment Disorder, children develop abnormal relationships with caregivers that are described, in the language of the DSM criteria for the disorder as either Inhibited or Disinhibited.
  • Children with Stereotypic Movement Disorder can't seem to stop themselves from engaging in repetitive, and seeming nonfunctional motor behavior.
  • Tic Disorders are diagnosed when people have chronic (i.e., repeated across time) motor and vocal tics that interfere with their daily activities.

For more information


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