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Pros and Cons in Diagnosing Children with Abnormal Behavior

Having a child assessed or diagnosed is always more beneficial than not doing so despite the consequences it may have on the child’s future (APA, 2014). According to the DSM manual, diagnosing a person is the process of identifying or determining whether he/she has a mental illness or not (Achenbach, T.M., 2009). In order to make diagnostic more effective, the professional most collect as much information as possible about the individual from various sources (Achenbach, T.M., 2009). In the case of a child or adolescent, some of the information collected sources can be but not limited to; parents, teachers, family doctors, pediatrician, extended family members, etc. However, when making decision on whether or not to have a child diagnose of any illness, parents must be aware of both the benefits and consequences of having their children diagnose.

The Benefits

In the case of that four years old girl known as Anna, diagnosing her would be very beneficial to both her and her parents, because that would have them a clear and realistic sense of the limitations and challenges she may face as a result of the ADHD disorder. They would also have a good sense of what treatment plans are available to them, their pros and cons, the types of supports available to them, as well as how effective they are. Anna would also be able to get individual support from specialists at school in order to help her succeed intellectually (Argosy University, 2015).

Subsidized help would also be available for the family as a whole, such as home based intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, etc. They would also benefits from effective collaboration between their family doctors, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, and Anna’s psychologist in order to give her a comprehensive treatment (Argosy University, 2015).

The Consequences

Stigma from other parents or peers, difficulties reversing the diagnosis should behavior change or improve. Most professionals agree on the fact that a child’s behavior can improve or even change complement according to his/her environment, his/her social interactions, the types of food intake, etc. However, even with the change it can sometimes be very difficult to reverse the diagnosis’s result (Argosy University, 2015). This means both Anna and her parents would have to deal with being labeled, and this type of label may follow her all the way into adulthood (Argosy University, 2015).

She may also lean on the label, like blaming the disorder for her behavior rather than taking responsibility for her actions, etc. or Anna’s parents and teachers may limit their expectations of her, which can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy situation (Argosy University, 2015). Other consequences are: a child usually needs special support when discussing a diagnosis, also for Anna’s family, because of their economic situation, assessing and Diagnosing her may be very costly to them (Parens, E. et al., 2011).


The goals of psychological treatment of children and adolescents are to minimize or eliminate the symptoms, increase the child or adolescent’s overall level of functioning, increase specific functioning in an area of weakness, and maximize the family’s level of functioning. With that says, the psychologist needs to look at multiple things in Anna’s life. For example, it is reported that Anna’s mother speaks only speaks Spanish to her while her father only speaks English to her. This may be one of the reasons she has speech delay, also, she has not been stable. In fact, she has moved with her parents from place to place at least ten time. This type instability can interfere with a child development stages. So the psychologist needs to consider Anna’s cultural background, her family economic status, her language background as well as her age in order to develop an effective treatment plan for her (Argosy University, 2015 and Parents, E. et al., 2011).


Argosy University (2014). Abnormal Child Psychology, 5th Edition. Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Data Retrieved on 10/04/2015, from:

Achenbach, T.M. (2009). Some needed changes in DSM-V: But what about children? Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice, 16(1), 50–53. Doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2850.2009.01142.x

Parens, E. et al. (2011). Troubled children: Diagnosing, treating, and attending to context. The Hastings Center Report, 41(2), S1–S31. (ProQuest Document ID: 912208909) sch=auo&turl=

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