Discussion—Pros and Cons of Diagnosing Children

Discussion—Pros and Cons of Diagnosing Children

One of the great controversies in the field of psychology relates to how we define normal and abnormal behavior. There is general agreement with the official definitions of abnormal behavior; that is, abnormal behavior is severe or maladaptive enough to need diagnosis and psychological or psychiatric treatment. These official definitions are contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). There have been many revisions of this manual over the years. Currently, we are using the fifth edition, or the DSM-5 (APA, 2013).

Children and adolescents who display certain behaviors that cause them to have significant difficulty in their everyday functioning are likely to be diagnosed with one of the disorders in the DSM. Some of those diagnoses are temporary, whereas others are life-long.

Review the following case:

Anna, a four-year-old Mexican-American girl, lives with her mother and father. Anna’s parents immigrated to the United States years before her birth. Her mother speaks only Spanish with her, while her father speaks only English. Anna’s parents are migrant workers who must move regularly. Anna and her parents have moved over ten times since her birth. They hope to provide Anna with more stability, now that she is approaching school age. Therefore, they are seeking other forms of employment.
Anna recently completed kindergarten orientation. The school psychologist recommended that her parents have her evaluated further, as her speech development is significantly delayed. She speaks very little; her vocabulary was screened at the kindergarten orientation and was found to be at least two years behind typical speech development. During the kindergarten screening, Anna was hyperactive, unable to sit still, distracted, and unable to complete the tasks. She was unable to complete them partially due to their difficulty level, but also due to her inability to focus sufficiently.
After a thorough evaluation at the local mental health center, Anna was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). She began participating in a behavioral modification program with a bilingual therapist, who speaks both English and Spanish. She will be evaluated in a few weeks by the psychiatrist, who will decide whether to prescribe stimulant medication for the ADHD.

Based on your analysis of the case, respond to the following:

  • Analyze the pros and cons of diagnosing Anna with a mental health disorder. Identify at least three benefits and at least three costs Anna and her family may experience as a result of her diagnosis. When deciding which pros and cons to identify, consider benefits and costs related to at least four of the following categories:
    • Stigma
    • Prescription of psychiatric medication to children
    • Selection of a psychotherapy approach
    • Multicultural factors
    • Labeling or mislabeling of children
    • Early intervention

Write your initial response in 300­­–500 words. Apply APA standards to citation of sources, including in-text citations and full references. Incorporate information from at least two academic sources to support your statements or ideas. Academic sources could include your textbook, required readings for this week, or academic journal articles found in the AU online library.

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