How to diagnose/assess it?
made from clinical interviews with caregivers.
Information from teachers and schools is also helpful, whether obtained
directly from the school or related through the caregivers.
Information from and observation of youths is also valuable
but oppositional behaviors may be completely absent during a brief visit to an
Severity is best
measured with a standardized checklist that rates each symptom on a
A free, public domain checklist is the SNAP, which stands
for the Swanson, Nolan, and Pelham checklist.
If the sum of items 21-30 is 18 or greater, this indicates a probable
diagnosis of ODD.
What causes it?
Oppositional defiance is one of the most common
problems that brings children to clinics but we know relatively little about
what causes it compared to other disorders.
Because the behaviors are so often directed at authority figures and
parents, it has been theorized that faulty parenting practices are the cause,
but this is more folk tale than scientific fact. The causes are likely due
largely to genetics just like the majority of other psychiatric disorders.
When to Refer/Seek Help
When the severity of the problems prevent normal
functioning at home or school on a frequent basis (i.e., almost daily), it is
time to seek help. If problems have been
present for at least one month, these are unlikely to resolve on their
own. Parents tend to wait to seek help
until day cares or schools take disciplinary action, and by then the problems
have been present typically for months or years.
Milder cases can respond to low-level interventions such as
more structured discipline plans implemented by parents when guided by
self-help books. This might be simple
and clear plans to target behaviors with rewards. Wise use of time-outs can also be helpful.
More often, cases require structured interventions with
licensed clinicians. There are multiple
evidence-based interventions. One of the
most well-studied, is Parent Child
Interaction Therapy (PCIT), best for 2-7 year-old children. PCIT uses a novel technique of coaching
parents in real time with an ear piece. The Triple
P – Positive Parenting Program is another proven intervention.
There are no medications approved by the FDA for ODD.
In 2019, Healthy Blue, one of the five Louisiana managed
care organizations for Medicaid, funded a training program to increase the
number of therapists trained in PCIT.
About 15 therapists began the training in March 2019. They ought to complete their training by the
end of 2019, at which time Healthy Blue will hopefully post a roster of these
General information about PCIT can be found at http://www.pcit.org/
General information on Triple P is available at http://www.triplep-america.com/glo-en/home
-Updated July 3, 2019