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    My Challenging Child

    “Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children.”

    – Princess Diana, Princess of Wales

    There are many developmental disorders, many of which overlap in their description and in the children’s profile. Sometimes, it is not possible to fit the children nicely into a single diagnosis. Developmental diagnoses, as the name suggests, are developmental in nature. Therefore, sometimes only time can show up the real deficits.


    “Help! My Child is really difficult. I cannot control him… The teachers say he is impossible… What can I do?”

    In any child with challenging behaviours, the following issues need to be considered:

    1. Is his development thus far normal? (Refer to Quick Guide to Developmental Milestones). Often times, language delay is subtle but can account for many of the challenging behaviours in a young child.
    2. What has been his experience so far? Is he looked after by parents, domestic helpers, grandparents or other caregivers? Are the value systems the same between different caregivers? Inconsistency of care values and rules may be confusing for a child and lead to varying behaviours in different situations.
    3. Does he demonstrate adequate attention? Is he hyperactive, always on the move, unable to focus easily on tasks at hand? Might he instead be overly focused, such that he is unable to shift his attention from one to the next task and therefore gets stuck? Overt or inadequate attention to details may pose problems for a child who need to have sufficient skills for focusing as well as for moving on.
    4. Has he had any medical illnesses that required frequent hospitalization? Does he have a history of seizures, staring or fainting spells? These would all have an impact on his development and may affect his learning.
    5. Does he have any odd behaviour? Does he react excessively to general sensory stimuli such as sound or sights? Is there any obsession with object parts? Is there a fascination with things that have a rhythmic and repetitive pattern? The presence of odd behaviours may point towards specific developmental disorders.
    6. What is his environment like? Is there consistency in his schedule? Is there multi-lingual exposure? Language confusion in a child with language delay may lead to further delays in learning. Adopted children with prior exposure to a completely different culture will naturally take time to adapt. Consistency is important in a young child’s life.



    These and many other issues need to be addressed in any child with challenging behaviours. Should the answer to any of the questions above raise a red flag, it is best to consult your doctor for a developmental assessment as soon as possible.