Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and its Treatment
Ten percent of our teenagers suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a combination of behavioral patterns that affect one in every ten teens today—a shocking ten percent of our youth. Often, it is difficult to recognize ODD since almost all teens are somewhat rebellious and difficult to manage by nature. Normal adolescents seek their independence and resist all forms of direction. However, when that independence and resistance becomes more extreme and consistent, and manifests itself through anger, arguing, and rage, it is not normal.
How can you tell that your teen’s behavior is more than just a nasty attitude?
How does a parent decide when his or her teen’s behavior may be ODD? ODD is likely present when your son or daughter’s defiant behavior becomes:
- Disruptive to family and/or school
- Lasts longer than 6 months
It takes a qualified mental health professional to make the diagnosis; however, at the very least parents must realize that it is time to ask for help in making the diagnosis and seeking treatment.
What does ODD look like?
Children with ODD consistently exhibit behavior that is negative, defiant, disobedient, and hostile toward any authority figure. The actions that result from these behaviors include:
- Frequent tantrums,
- Arguments—often pointless--with parents or other adults,
- Deliberate attempts to annoy others,
- Easily annoyed themselves,
- Acting overly touchy,
- Resisting or ignoring rules and guidelines,
- Aggressive toward peers and siblings
- Excessive blaming for their own moods and anger
Teens suffering from ODD have trouble developing relationships and keeping friends. They seek revenge and carryout revengeful acts. They attempt to get even with others for perceived misdeeds that have offended them—including even teasing that they might normally not even take notice.
Is ODD and ADHD related in any way?
Treatment for ODD involves behavioral modification therapy and sometimes medication to treat related, and resulting, mental health conditions. Many teens with ODD also suffer the effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Also commonly accompanying ODD are a variety of other behavioral disorders, especially anxiety and depression.
Which disorder usually comes first?
No one has yet determined if one of these conditions may cause the other, but they certainly contribute to one another. Medical treatment of ADHD often helps with ODD.
There are a number if situations and factors that can increase the likelihood and the severity of having a family member suffering from ODD. At or near the very top of the list is substance abuse. Teens who are involved in substance abuse experience extreme irritability and changes in moods and personality. It is vital that any substance abuse be identified and eliminated before ODD can be addressed and treated.
Other factors that increase the likelihood or severity include:
- Parents with either a mood or substance abuse disorder
- Child abuse or neglect
- Extreme discipline or lack of discipline in the family
- Unsupervised childhood
- Traumatic events such as frequent household moves, change of schools, child care providers, and sometimes a divorce or death
- Poor relationship with parents
- Parents with their own history of ADHD, ODD or other conduct problems
- Financial stress in the family
- History of violence
Changing the environment is almost always necessary for improvement
Removal from the environment that contributes to ODD is one option for treatment. Often even without medication, the change in environment can stop triggering the ODD episodes. When the negative stimuli are no longer present, the behavior patterns improve. Once in a new, positive environment, and with positive encouragement, teens can learn how to develop self-esteem building experiences, develop new habits and begin to recognize the emotions and reactions they have that lead to their negative behavior. Teens soon become able to work out frustrations through more positive channels and control emotions that ultimately lead to the negative behavior.
Early identification and early treatment is needed for life-long benefit
The earlier ODD can be identified and managed, the better the chances of reversing its effects before permanent personality changes become engrained. Psychological therapy can help restore the teen’s self-esteem and rebuild a positive relationship between family members. Arivaca Boys Ranch uses several methods in combination to help teens overcome ODD and adjust to more appropriate responses to situations and more productive lives. The most important change that is brought about by Arivaca Boys Ranch is the removal of the teen from the cycle of negative behavior that has become their customary behavior. Parents, teachers, children and, in fact, all people develop patterns of interaction that are difficult to change.
Normal parenting becomes ineffective
Through years of negatively interacting with parents, even when a parent makes efforts to change the relationship, the ODD teenager is not able to adapt. Open defiance has become his new normal. With a change in environment, the young man can sense a fresh start from the very beginning as it becomes clear to the young man that the staff accepts him and wants him to be successful.
In the environment of the Arivaca Boys Ranch, success becomes the new normal
The programs are constructed in such a way that the young man has one positive experience after another. We create real opportunities for success by starting slow, at the young man’s pace, and providing him projects and assignments that challenge him in fun ways. With help and guidance from staff, he learns to enjoy feeling good about his successes and achievements. Even with schoolwork, the new feeling of enjoying success is positive and rejuvenating. Often, success in school is an experience he has not enjoyed in many years. Since Arivaca Boys Ranch is a working horse ranch, each boy learns how to work by working the ranch. In this environment it is easy for him to see results of his efforts.
Equine therapy can be a real eye-opener
The purpose of the setting for the Arivaca Boys Ranch, a working horse ranch, is equine therapy. Odd as it may seem, a young man’s eyes quickly open to his negative emotions and bad behaviors by working with the horses. Each will experience frustrations, but will soon learn the need that success with a 1,200-pound animal means not behaving in a way that agitates or confronts the animal. This is a real learning experience and turning point in behavioral realities for the boys.
Through a series of planned exercises and events, each boy will learn he can control the emotions of a horse by bringing his own emotions under control. He will learn the necessity of patience. Once that is realized, he can get this huge animal to respond with him, in concert, and with less effort that he would have thought. Equine therapy is a very powerful, hands-on method that almost every young man responds to quickly.
Professional therapy is key to making positive changes permanent
Last, but certainly not least, Arivaca Boys Ranch methods include individual and group behavioral modification therapy with licensed clinical therapists. This is an extremely important part of changing patterns. With his or her professional skill, the therapists can tie all the pieces of the young man’s experiences at the ranch together and help him become consciously aware who he is and what he needs to become. In combination, each boy will learn the ways to become successful. As part of the therapy, structured journal writing, solitary time to think, specific subject seminars, all in a structured and controlled environment, he will be able to prepare to return to his family with a new outlook and a desire to reach his full potential.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder presents a difficult problem to overcome. The earlier it is addressed, the better it can be treated and conquered. Left unmanaged, ODD can be very destructive to family, education, friendships, and all future relationships. Arivaca Boys Ranch succeeds in addressing it and returning your precious son to you, whole.