Conduct Disorder

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Course of Conduct Disorder

The onset of conduct disorder may occur as early as age 5 or 6, but more usually occurs in late childhood or early adolescence; onset after the age of 16 years is rare (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). The results of research into childhood aggression have indicated that externalizing problems are relatively stable over time.

Richman and colleagues for example, found that 67% of children who displayed externalizing problems at age 3 were still aggressive at age 8 (Richman, Stevenson, & Graham, 1982). Other studies have found stability rates of 50-70%. However, these stability rates may be higher due to the belief that the problems are episodic, situational, and likely to change in character (Loeber, 1991)

Age of onset of ODD seems to be associated with the development of severe problems later in life, including aggressiveness and antisocial behavior. However, not all conduct disordered children have a poor prognosis. Studies suggest that less than 50% of the most severe cases become antisocial as adults.

Nevertheless, the fact that this disorder continues into adulthood for many people conveys that it is a serious and life-long dysfunction (Webster-Stratton & Dahl, 1995).

While not all ODD children develop conduct disorder, and not all conduct disorder children become antisocial adults there are certain risk factors that have been shown to contribute to the continuation of the disorder.

The risk factors identified include; an early age of onset (preschool years), the spread of antisocial behaviors across settings, the frequency and intensity of antisocial behaviors, the forms that the antisocial behaviors take, having covert behaviors at an early age and also particular parent and family characteristics.

However, these risk factors do not fully explain the complex interaction of variables involved in understanding the continuation of Conduct Disorder in any one individual.

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