Behavioral Disorder—Male Vignette
Joe, a thirteen-year-old Asian-American boy, is enrolled in ninth grade at a public high school located in the inner city of a large metropolitan area. Since kindergarten, his teachers have reported increasing levels of concern about his behavior. In elementary school, he was described by his teachers as immature and argumentative with authority figures. In middle school, his behavior escalated to include verbal and physical aggression toward classmates.
Recent reports indicate that he disrupts the classroom often by arguing with his teacher, talking excessively and loudly, and disobeying classroom rules. During breaks or when outside the classroom, Joe associates with a group of boys who tend to get into trouble. He tends to become angry often and easily and has gotten into many fights. Some of his classmates have reported that Joe has threatened them. He does not seem to feel guilty when he gets into trouble. He rarely finishes his schoolwork and is getting poor grades. Beginning this year, Joe’s teacher has reported that he seems easily distracted.
Testing completed by the school psychologist indicates that Joe is intelligent and creative. Results do not support the presence of a learning disability or a developmental disability. The school psychologist indicates that Joe lacks sufficient motivation or desire to complete his work thoroughly or carefully. Joe’s parents report that he refuses to follow rules at home, is often angry, and tends to blame his siblings when he gets into trouble.
Behavioral Disorder—Female Vignette
Maria is an eight-year-old daughter of Mexican-American parents who recently immigrated to the United States. They speak some English, and Maria is fluent in both English and Spanish. She is enrolled in third grade at the local public elementary school. Since second grade, her parents have reported concerns about her difficulty in paying attention or maintaining her concentration. They indicate that she has significant difficulty in completing her homework because she daydreams and is easily distracted by sounds and activities in the home. Maria has the same problem in the classroom, so she often has to bring unfinished classroom work home to complete. Maria gets frustrated at school and during homework time, often stating that she “can’t do” the work and referring to herself as “dumb” or “not smart enough.”
Maria’s frustration with her schoolwork has led to some irritability lately, as well as some desire to avoid school. She tends to have more of a temper at home recently and expresses hopelessness at times. She is most content playing soccer or video games. She tends to concentrate very well during those activities.
Standardized testing completed by all children in the third grade indicates that Maria is of average intelligence. Screening by the school psychologist indicated that she most likely does not have a learning disability.