5 Myths About Students with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder)

Sunday, April 14, 2019
What's Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)? According to the DSM-5, ODD is "a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least 6 months as evidenced by at least four symptoms from any of the following categories, and exhibited during interaction with at least one individual who is not a sibling." To read more about the symptoms and categories, check out the DSM-5 definition. So let's get to it - let's bust some common myths so we can better understand the needs of the students we serve. 

1.) Every student who has ODD also has an IEP. 
Well, false. ODD isn't one of the 13 disability categories, so we can't say that every child with ODD has an IEP. Diagnoses like conduct disorder, ODD, bipolar, depression, etc. are clinical diagnoses and can only be made by specific clinical medical professionals. Just because a child has a clinical diagnoses and comes in with paperwork, this doesn't necessarily mean that the child qualifies for an IEP. The school evaluation team will have to follow their process in order to determine if they are eligible under one of the 13 disability categories, which could potentially be emotional disability. Some students qualify for OHI (Other Health Impairment), a 504 Plan, but only a school eval team can actually made that decision. Check out my blog post about emotional disabilities.

2.) Students with ODD can only be treated with medication. 
While some students with ODD take medication, it would be to assist with managing behaviors manifesting from their ODD or related needs (like hyperactivity or depression), but would not "treat" their ODD. Medication never removes a disorder from a student, their needs will still remain but may be managed better by medication if a medical professional & guardian deems that necessary. Remember that even if a child with ODD is on medication, they will still have ODD! Only environmental changes and attending to student needs individually can really help a child with ODD to thrive and succeed in a school setting.

3.) Students with ODD love to argue. 
Say it with me - kids do well if they can. No student is coming to school to make your life miserable. Students with ODD struggle with relinquishing control to adults and trusting others. So - if you're getting into power struggles - try adding choice into your day! Giving students opportunities to make choices in what happens throughout the day will really eliminate some of the continuous arguments you find yourself in. 

4.) ODD and Conduct Disorder are the same thing.
ODD consists of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, and/or vindictiveness, while conduct disorder (CD) consists of aggression to people and/or animals, destruction of property, theft, and/or serious violations of rules. Children with ODD can develop CD, but they are not the same.

5.) Having very clear consequences/punishments for students with ODD is the best approach.
Research tells us very clearly that punishments don't help children with ODD change or shape their behavior. It's not easy to find what works, but a consistent routine, strong relationship building focus, choice making opportunities, healthy opportunities for leadership/control, and explicit social skills training can be really effective. 

What would you add?


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