Common Disorders

Dec 02, 2020 by PrairieCare Team


Children and teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) may be overactive, and be unable to pay attention and stay on task. They tend to be impulsive and accident- prone. They may answer questions before raising their hand, forget things, fidget, squirm, or talk too loudly. On the other hand, some students with this disorder may be quiet and “spacey” or inattentive, forgetful, and easily distracted. [More info]

Anxiety Disorders

All children feel anxious at times. Many young children, for example, show great distress when separated from their parents. Preschoolers are often frightened of strangers, thunderstorms, or the dark. These are normal and usually short-lived anxieties. But some children suffer from anxieties severe enough to interfere with the daily activities of childhood or adolescence. [More info]

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. [More info]

Conduct Disorder

Children and adolescents with conduct disorder are highly visible, demonstrating a complicated group of behavioral and emotional problems. Serious, repetitive, and persistent misbehavior is the essential feature of this disorder. These behaviors fall into 4 main groups: aggressive behavior toward people or animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, and serious violations of rules. [More info]


All children feel sad or blue at times, but feelings of sadness with great intensity that persist for weeks or months may be a symptom of major depressive disorder or dysthymic disorder (chronic depression). These depressive disorders are more than “the blues”; they affect a young person’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, and body, and can lead to school failure, alcohol or drug abuse, and even suicide. Depression is one of the most serious mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders suffered by children and teens. [More info]

Eating Disorder

Nearly all of us worry about our weight at some time in our lives. However, some individuals become so obsessed with their weight and the need to be thin that they develop an eating disorder. The two most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. [More Info]

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) refers to the brain damage and physical birth defects caused by a woman drinking alcohol during pregnancy. One disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), can include growth deficiencies, central nervous system dysfunction that may include low IQ or mental retardation, and abnormal facial features (for example, small eye openings, small upturned nose, thin upper lip, small lower jaw, low set ears, and an overall small head circumference). [More info]

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has a neurobiological basis. This means it is a biological disease of the brain, just as diabetes is a biological disease of the pancreas. OCD is not caused by bad parenting, poverty, or other environmental factors. [More info]

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Students with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) seem angry much of the time. They are quick to blame others for mistakes and act in negative, hostile, and vindictive ways. All students exhibit these behaviors at times, but in those with ODD, these behaviors occur more frequently than is typical in individuals of comparable age and level of development. [More info]

PDD and Autism Spectrum Disorder

PDD, the acronym for pervasive developmental disorders, includes Rett’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Asperger’s Syndrome. Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) also belongs to this category. [More info]

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Children who are involved in or who witness a traumatic event that involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror are at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The event is usually a situation where someone’s life has been threatened or severe injury has occurred, such as a serious accident, abuse, violence, or a natural disaster. In some cases, the “event” may be a re-occurring trauma, such as continuing domestic violence. [More info]

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

The essential feature of reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness with peers and adults in most contexts. RAD begins before age 5 and is associated with grossly inadequate or pathological care that disregards the child’s basic emotional and physical needs. In some cases, it is associated with repeated changes of a primary caregiver. [More info]


Schizophrenia is a medical illness that causes a person to think and act strangely. It is rare in children less than 10 years of age and has its peak age of onset between the ages of 16 and 25. This disorder affects about 1 percent of the population, and thus middle and high school teachers will likely see children who are in the early stages of the illness. Schizophrenia can be difficult to recognize in its early phases, and the symptoms often are blurred with other psychiatric disorders. [More info]

Tourette’s Disorder

Tourette’s disorder is a neurological disorder that has dramatic consequences for some 200,000 Americans and affects an approximate additional 2 million to some degree. Boys identified with Tourette’s disorder outnumber girls 3 to 1; the disorder affects all races and ethnic groups. Researchers have traced the condition to a single abnormal gene that predisposes the individual to abnormal production or function of dopamine and other neurotransmitter in the brain. Although Tourette’s disorder is classified as a mental health disorder, it is usually treated by a neurologist as well as a psychiatrist. [More Info]

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