Conduct Disorder

Anger is often an emotion, individuals experience in response to a real or perceived loss of a possession, space, self-esteem, value or sense of entitlement. Whilst, in the early stages of normal development an individual may react by being physically aggressive as a reaction. Most individuals outgrow this kind of behaviour as they emotionally mature and develop more sophisticated language and problem solving skills, individuals with a diagnosis of Conduct Disorder (CD) do not.

Behaviour Help is a registered NDIS provider.

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Definition of Conduct Disorder

Anger is often an emotion that individuals experience in response to a real or perceived loss of a possession, space, self-esteem, value or sense of entitlement. Whilst in the early stages of normal development, an individual may react by being physically aggressive. While most individuals outgrow this kind of behaviour as they emotionally mature and develop more sophisticated language and problem-solving skills, individuals with a diagnosis of conduct disorder (CD) do not.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-V) (American Psychiatric Association), 2013), is a handbook that is used by professionals around the world to diagnose mental disorders. The DSM–V describes CD as a persistent and long term (chronic) pattern of very problematic behaviour in which there are serious violations of social norms and rules. The behaviour problems are associated with physical aggression directed towards people and/or animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness, or theft and/or serious violation of rules. In other words, the individuals frequently and persistently aggressive in situations where others of the same age would not respond aggressively. These behaviours cause clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

 

Types of Conduct Disorder

In the DSM-V (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), three presentation types of CD are identified:

  1. Childhood onset: the child showed at least one symptom characteristic of CD before the age of 10 years.
  2. Adolescent onset: the child showed no symptom characteristic of CD before the age of 10 years.
  3. Unspecified onset: unable to determine at what age the onset of the first symptom was.

 

Causes of CD

There is no single cause, rather a number of risk factors that may contribute to the development of persistent aggression. These include:

  1. Hereditary factors: certain personality traits inherited from family members can make the child vulnerable.
  2. Temperamental factors – the child has a difficult temperament or is aggressive from an early age that is difficult to manage.
  3. Environmental factors – the influence of the family is a strong risk factor for many individuals. Some of the family level risk factors include:
  • Parental lack of supervision.
  • Parental rejection and neglect.
  • Parental discipline is too harsh or too relaxed or inconsistent.
  • Parental inconsistent child rearing practices.
  • Parental criminality.
  • Parental disharmony.
  • Lack of parental monitoring.
  • Parents with a mental health problem.
  • Parents with a substance abuse problems.
  • Parents involved in criminal behaviour.
  • Individual has been physically or sexually abused.
  • Individual living in institutionalised care.
  • Individual has frequent changes of caregivers.
  • Individual is part of a large family.

 

Symptoms of Conduct Disorder

Aggression towards people and animals

  • Often bullying, threatening, or intimidating others.
  • Often initiating physical fights.
  • Use weapons that can cause serious physical harm to others (e.g. a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife and guns).
  • Being physically cruel to people.
  • Being physically cruel to animals.
  • Stealing while confronting a victim (e.g., mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery).
  • Forcing others into sexual activity.

 

Destruction of property

  • Deliberately engaging in fire setting with the intention of causing serious damage.
  • Deliberately destroying others’ property (other than by fire setting).

 

Deceitfulness or theft

  • Breaking into someone else’s house, building, or car.
  • Often lying to obtain goods or favours or to avoid obligations (i.e. “cons” others).
  • Stealing items of non-trivial value without confronting a victim (e.g. shoplifting, but without breaking and entering; forgery).

 

Serious violations of rules

  • Often staying out at night despite parental prohibitions
  • Running away from home overnight at least twice while living in parental or parental surrogate home (or once without returning for a lengthy period).
  • Truancy from school

 

References

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.).

 

Behaviour Help

If you are supporting an individual with this diagnosis, please refer to our services and resources. They aim to help children, adolescents and adults achieve better communication, social, emotional, behavioural and learning outcomes. So whether you are wanting guidance on parenting, teaching, supporting or providing therapy, Behaviour Help is at hand.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes, symptoms and types but some general information that can be further explored. Based on what you have read if you have any concerns about an individual, please raise them with the individual/s. The caregiver can then raise these concerns with their local doctor who can provide a referral to the relevant professional (e.g. paediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, allied health professional and learning specialists) for diagnosis and treatment if appropriate.

Which resources are right for you?

Apps

Conduct Disorder is a persistent and long term (chronic) pattern of very problematic behaviour in which there are serious violations of social norms and rules.

Books

If you want to learn more about emotional and behavioural difficulties then we have a great range of books you can read on your Kindle or order from Amazon.

Coaching

Personalised and practical one to one help tailored specifically to your family.

Online Courses

Access these online courses anytime online to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotional regulation skills. Also learn to utilise the positive behaviour support framework to address anxiety, aggression, ADHD, ASD and ODD.

SEL Educational Videos

Minimise or eliminate the occurrence of challenging behaviours by teaching children of all ages appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, managing their emotions and behaviours.

The SEL curriculum uses video modelling to provide direct, explicit and systematic teaching of the various skills by discussing the importance of the skill, modelling the skill so the child learns what the skill looks like? sounds like? feels like? and learn the skill in staged situations that simulate real life scenarios.

Therapy

Personalised and practical behaviour therapy tailored specifically to your family.

Webinars

Webinars discuss a range of practical strategies to guide your child learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.

Workshops

Attend our practical and interactive workshops to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotions, behaviours, social and communication skills in your learning environment.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

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