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Diagnosis of Disruptive Behavior Disorders

Disruptive Behavior Disorders are diagnosed based on a clinical assessment performed by a health care professional, usually a psychiatrist, psychologist, or pediatrician.  This assessment usually includes an interview with the patient and parents or caregivers, as well information obtained from teachers.  The goal of this assessment is to determine whether the patient meets the clinical criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder

There are certain scales that are available to help clinicians make a diagnosis of these conditions and also rate the severity of the symptoms. For a thorough list of these instruments, see here.

The most popular choice would be the Conners Rating Scales, which is a group of questionnaires designed to measure a whole range of emotional and behavioral problems in youths. There is one version completed by parents, and one by teachers, and both of these are valid for patients ages 3-17; the 'Oppositional' and 'Hyperactivity' subscales would be most relevant. There is also a version that is completed by adolescents ages 12-17, called the Conners-Wells' Adolescent Self-Report of Symptoms (CASS), which has subscales measuring 'Conduct Problems,' 'Anger Control Problems,' and 'Hyperactivity.'


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Oppositional Defiant Disorder