Overview of Conduct and Oppositional Defiant Disorders and Examination of a Mentoring Program as an Additional Treatment Dimension
Oppositional Defiant Disorders (ODD) and Conduct Disorders (CD) account for the majority of diagnoses given to children in the United States. CD is characterized by persistent patterns of disruptive and aggressive behavior, and ODD is identified by repetitive defiance of authorities. While these disorders have been researched extensively, many questions remain unanswered. The exact etiology is still unknown; however, research suggests that ODD and CD are caused by the interaction of various genetic and environmental factors. The high rates of comorbidity of CD and ODD with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Depression, and Substance Abuse complicates research and treatment efforts and makes the ODD and CD diagnostic categories heterogeneous. Consistently effective treatments have not been found; however, the most successful treatments address each specific type of symptom, provide intervention in multiple settings (e.g. school, home, community), and begin early. I helped establish a mentoring program for four adolescents being treated for ODD and comorbid disorders at the Child Guidance Clinic in Kalamazoo. Each youth was paired with a college student who shared a similar interest (e.g. art, computers) and they worked together on various activities related to that interest. Some improvement in behavior at home and school and increases in GAF scores were observed, which may be due to involvement in the program.
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