What is a Behavioural Disorder?

The term Behavioural Disorder is broadly used to describe disorders of childhood in which a child presents with challenging behaviours that are extreme for their age. The most common disorders in this category include:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Children with ADHD can experience some or all of the following behaviours, which are broadly organised into three categories:

Inattentive Type: making careless errors, difficulties concentrating, difficulty organising tasks, often losing things, easily distracted.

Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: often fidgeting or restless, talks to excess, noisy and loud, blurts out answers, impatient in turn-taking, interrupting others.

Combined Type: this is the most common type of ADHD. Children fit the criteria for this type if they have symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive types.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

Children living with ODD exhibit challenging behaviour, particularly towards adults and those in authority. Such behaviour may include becoming easily irritated, having frequent angry outbursts, being argumentative with adults, refusal to follow rules, and low frustration tolerance.

Conduct Disorder (CD)

Children who exhibit signs of a CD may be bullying frequently or using threatening behaviour, physically hurting others, cruelty to animals or stealing from others.

How will a Behavioural Assessment be helpful?

An accurate diagnosis can help parents and children to better understand the underlying causes of challenging behaviour. Assessment may also assist with the development of a treatment plan to modify problem behaviour, and reduce the impact of the disorder on daily life, in which case assessment is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention. In some cases, behavioural assessment is part of the process of differential diagnosis, and is administered in conjunction with cognitive assessments to determine whether a child’s challenging behaviours can be explained by the presence of an intellectual disability, learning disorder or giftedness.

What is involved with a Behavioural Assessment?

Because ADHD, ODD, and CD share several symptoms, a behavioural assessment is typically quite a detailed process. To establish an accurate diagnosis, assessment requires parent interviews to attain a developmental history, in combination with several diagnostic questionnaires, a clinical session with the child, and a teacher interview and/or school observation. Usually three or more of the following questionnaires are used:

  • Conner’s Early Childhood (Connors EC). Used to evaluate child behaviour for ages 2 years to 6 years.
  • Conner’s Rating Scale (Connors-3). Used to assess ADHD and evaluate problem behaviour in children and adolescents aged 6 years to 18 years.
  • Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF-2). Used to assess executive functioning in the home and school environments.
  • ASEBA Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL). A very broad assessment tool used to obtain an overview of a child’s competencies and problems. For children ages 1.5 years to 18 years.
  • Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System (ABAS-3). Used to assess adaptive skills from birth to 89 years

The complete assessment process typically involves:

  1. An initial consultation to gather developmental history and background information, and determine whether it will be helpful to proceed with the assessment process.
  2. A review of any previous assessment previous reports, and consultation with the child’s school where appropriate.
  3. Completion of standardised questionnaires by the individual being assessed (for adolescents), and/or their parents and caregivers.
  4. Clinical assessment session with the child (1 hour)
  5. Scoring, interpretation, and report preparation.
  6. A one-hour feedback session to discuss the results of assessment, and all recommendations arising from the results.

What is the cost involved with a Behavioural Assessment?

Breakdown of Fees

  • Initial Consultation (1 hour) $195
  • Assessment (may include school visit) $195/hour
  • Feedback and Recommendations (1 hour) $195

Total $770 approx.

Medicare rebates may be available for some sessions with a GP referral. Many private health funds do offer rebates, depending upon the level of cover.

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