Childhood Adjustment Disorder
I. What is Adjustment Disorder?
Adjustment Disorder (AD) manifests itself
in different ways for different people. People with Adjustment
Disorder are reacting to a specific stressful event or series
of events. People with AD generally exhibit signs of depression,
anxiety, or the combination of the same. Social difficulties
and loss of coping abilities usually appear. Most of the time,
AD appears within three months of a specific stressful event
but lasts no longer than six months, however if the stressful
problem is a continuing one, AD can persist.
AD is said to affect approximately 5% of the
population at any given time. It can develop at any age, but
is particularly evident in times of a life change, and in
the adolescent, mid-life, and later life stages.
II. What are the symptoms of AD?
There are six different classifications of
AD, and the symptoms are related to the classifications. These
- AD/Depressed: Feelings
of hopelessness and sadness
- AD/Anxiety: Anxious,
worried, jittery feelings
- AD/Mixed Anxiety and
Depression: Hopeless feelings
mixed with anxiety
- AD/Conduct Disorder:
Person stops adhering to society's rules. They become reckless
- AD/Mixed Emotional
and Conduct Disturbance
- Unspecified: Other symptoms included in
this category include withdrawal and unspecified physical
symptoms such as headaches.
Diagnosis is made by a professional
diagnostician but you can take these quizzes to help you determine
whether or not your child is suffering from AD.
III. How is AD diagnosed?
Diagnosis of AD is made by a mental health
professional by asking a series of questions to determine
the history of the patient: both physically and mentally.
If the diagnostician suspects AD, he or she will try to pinpoint
the event that is causing the stress.
IV. How is AD treated?
A. Talking therapy:
An adjustment disorder rarely lasts longer than six months,
but may continue if the situation that caused the stress persists.
Therapy, both individual and group has been very successful
in helping people deal with AD. In addition, there are support
groups available to deal with certain types of stressor situations,
for example, support groups for children of divorced parents.
In most cases, medication for adjustment disorder is not advised.
In some cases, medications for stress, anxiety, or depression
are prescribed on a short-term basis in dealing with AD. In
any case, it is advised that medications be used to supplement
psychotherapy, and not to replace therapy. Medications
V. I suspect that my child has Adjustment
What do I do now?
Professionals to Seek Out
- See your physician or pediatrician
- Consult with your clergy to assist in spiritual
- Consult with an educational consultant
to help you
find the right program for your child.
- Consult with a therapist or counselor.
- Consult with an Educational Advocate to
with your current school situation
- Consult with an Educational Consultant
to find the
right program for your child.
out more about Educational Consultants
- Inpatient: hospitalization
Outpatient facilities have therapeutic staff on-hand to
offer therapy and support to patients on a part-time basis.
Emotional Growth schools are highly structured environments
that stress academics and teach coping skills through the
use of conflict resolution. Children learn they can make choices
and learn to accept responsibility through the use of modeling
behavior and outdoor therapy. The length of stay is between
9 and 18 months, at which time they either return to the mainstream
or attend a boarding school, if possible. Parents are involved
with the school staff and the children throughout the child's
attendance at the school.
out more about Outdoor Therapy
Residential Boarding School
These schools are usually fully accredited schools with emotional
growth programs. They stress holistic education: growth of
the person through holding children responsible for their
actions. There is no rehabilitation or physicians on staff.
A Therapeutic Wilderness program
does not necessarily have academics; their goal can be to
introduce the children to a different role. These programs
use Outdoor Therapy to help build low self-esteem. They make
obtainable goals for them to reach. The programs vary but
they are about 6 to 8 weeks long. It is a very structured
program with a goal of teaching the children coping skills
and raising their self-esteem. Children go from this program
to mainstream back into their public school or attend a small
structured boarding school.
out more about Therapeutic Wilderness Programs
d. Residential Treatment School
A Residential Treatment Program or School provides a full
professional staff that includes therapists, psychologists,
and psychiatrists. They also have a small academic program.
Many of the children in the program have been recommended
there by mental health agencies that make the placements.
It is a highly structured environment whose emphasis is on
treatment and learning coping skills and independent living.
Chemical dependence education and rehabilitation is also provided.
Outdoor therapy is sometimes used to facilitate building social
skills and self-esteem. Recovery programs are also available.
Residential Treatment schools are secure schools.
more about Residential Treatment Schools
program is right for my child?