Identification of behavioral and experiential difficulties

13. srpna 2014 v 18:51 | Prof.PhDr.Rudolf Kohoutek,CSc.
Behavioral and experiential difficulties and disorders in children and young people constitute a very serious social problem determining the further psycho-social development of the young generation.
In conformity with Smékal (1961), we are of the view that difficulties are those educational and learning difficulties which still fall within a broader standard, and as such are not primarily organic, psychopathic, psychotic or oligophrenic.

Difficulties are partly or completely reversible. While they are developmentally inappropriate (dysontogenetic), they are non-pathological and defect-free mental states which are manifested socially (and possibly also subjectively) through unfavorably viewed behavior and experience.
Difficulties may be multi-conditional, poly-etiological, which is important for both their diagnostics (which ought to be based on personality and comprehensive) and treatment.
In the diagnostics of difficulties, we rely on behavioral and experiential manifestations in children and youth. The distance of a specific form of behavior from the actual essence of the child's personality allows us to organize the child's behavioral manifestations on a certain scale which can be used in diagnostics.
Compared to behavioral disorders and personality disorders, difficulties:
are of a shorter-term nature
have less intense manifestations
are less socially consequential
tend to be conditioned on and caused by exogenous, situational and social factors, rather than endogenous, personality, genetic or biological factors
are more often reversible in terms of prognosis (i.e., there is a more optimistic prognosis)
According to symptomatology (i.e., the symptoms manifested) which can help us as the search methodology for the identification of individual types of children, the main areas of behavioral and experiential difficulties (occasional, shorter-term, situational, not yet reaching the quantitative and qualitative levels and severity of personality disorders and behavioral disorders listed for instance in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) published in Geneva) can be divided into ten categories.
Every symptom has to be assessed in terms of quantity as well: e.g., does not manifest itself (0) manifests itself seldom (1), frequently (2), very frequently (3).
To a competent expert, symptoms which manifest themselves very frequently (3rd degree) in certain combination then may indicate a disorder, rather than a mere difficulty.

1. Increased mental tension
Manifestations of mental tension include the following:
examination fright, tremor, shaking hands, voice (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
overly sensitive reaction to failure, compunction, tearfulness (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
daydreaming, absent-mindedness (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
bad mood (seems discontent) (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
anxiety over one's appearance and its changes (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
increased mental vulnerability, low self-esteem (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
emotional deprivation (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
change of face coloring, blushing, blotches, pallor (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
fear of ordinary things (e.g., heights, solitude, dark, animals) (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
nail-biting (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
A special, specific group of children with increased mental tension is represented by physically and mentally abused children (Vágnerová, 1997) who are frequently abused by the very people who were supposed to be their source of certainty and security. All this frequently damages the overall personality development.

2. Infantilism
Typical symptoms of infantilism which can be easily established by observation and interview, include the following:
psycho-social behavior corresponds to a lower age (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
age-inappropriate playfulness (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
excessive use of diminutives in speech (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
inappropriate need for caressing (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
inappropriate naivety (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
emotional instability (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of independence (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
egocentricity (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
fantasizing (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of interest in work (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
excessive dependency on assistance from others at work, when dressing (0 - 1 - 2
- 3)
preference for friendships with mostly younger or mostly older people (0 - 1 - 2
- 3)
All of the above with intelligence within the norm.
Manifestations of immaturity and inaptitude have an extremely significant impact on the child's adaptation with regard to the beginning of primary school attendance and later on to choice of career and study.
An infantile personality may be manifested at a higher age by immaturity in professional and study orientation and adaptation.

3. Behavior outside the social and educational norm
The following symptoms of behavior outside the norm may occur:
aggression, destructive tendencies, torturing animals and insects, bullying peers (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
outbursts of rage (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
maliciousness (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
stealing, cheating, lying (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
impertinence, vulgar language, rudeness (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
negative attitude towards authority, arguments and disputes with adults (0 - 1
- 2 - 3)
truancy, vagrancy, spending nights away from home, little or no remorse for misdeeds (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
membership in problem groups, choice of unsuitable friends (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
inciting resistance against teachers, wardens, overseers (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
poor self-control (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
undesirable values, consumption of alcoholic beverages (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
obscene talk, premature sexual experience (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
Voluntary reform institutions have been established recently. Children and juveniles are sent there at the request of their parents, rather than a court order. This relates for instance to Educational Care Centers (SVP) or institutions for juvenile mothers ordered to stay in institutional care. (Helena Pelcová, 2008).

4. Increased intropunitivity
A person with increased intropunitivity for instance:
suffers from fear or shyness in front of strangers (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
is mentally highly vulnerable (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tends to take even a mild reprimand very badly (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
overreacts to any failure (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tends to succumb to the rule of excessive motivation (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tends to speak in a low voice during examinations (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
is unable to use his/her knowledge, has low self-confidence (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
finds adaptation to new situations difficult (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tends to refuse verbal communication (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
needs to be reassured that his/her approach is correct, requires systematic educational guidance to boost his/her self-confidence and adaptable communication (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tends to act in an insecure and "suspicious" manner when any misdeeds are being investigated despite his/her innocence (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tends to be a loner (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
self-depreciation (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
inability to form close relations (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
withdrawn, frequently manifests quiet resistance, is passive aggressive (0 - 1 - 2
- 3)
tends to be shy, overly submissive (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
overestimates other people (0 - 1 - 2 - 3).
Intropunitive children are sometimes referred to as children with communication problems (Vágnerová, 1997). The term "child with a communication problem" isdeemed to be superior to the term intropunitive personality orientation.

5. Partial defects in communication abilities and skills (in particular in spoken and written speech) and cognitive processes
The symptoms of this difficulty, or disorder, as the case may be, include the following:
impaired sound of speech, for instance, mumbling (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
impaired fluency of speech and diction, for instance, cluttering (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
impaired articulation, for instance, lisping (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
speech defects accompanying other dominant handicaps (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
voice defects (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
reading and language learning difficulties, although the pupil may be doing well in mathematics, for instance (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
confusing words and letters - at the end of first grade or later, the pupil confuses letters similar in shape or sound, e.g., r-z, k-h, d-t, n-m, a-e, p-g, d-b (0 - 1 - 2
- 3)
syllabification, unable to follow the content while reading (even in higher grades)(0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
putting even simple words together with difficulty (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
difficulty in pronouncing more difficult groups of consonants and unknown words when reading (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
swapping or leaving out sounds and syllables, especially end ones, when reading (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
swapping or leaving out sounds and syllables when writing (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)

Children with compromised communication abilities and skills are usually integrated in mainstream primary schools. However, most primary school teachers only have theoretical or no experience with compromised communication abilities. The integration of children with compromised communication abilities in primary schools would therefore benefit from the presence of a special pedagogist - speech therapist.

5. Motor, locomotion and praxis difficulties
The following symptoms are found in individuals with these problems:
extremely untidy drawings and art work (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
difficulties in spatial orientation (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
cramped, excessively forced handwriting (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
clumsiness and lack of independence in self-service (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of manual skills (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
difficulties in precision drawing (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
clumsiness in sports, awkwardness (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
uncoordinated walking(0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
falls, accidents, injuries (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
partly paralyzed arm, leg, limping (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
retrained left hand because right hand cannot be used (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
crossed laterality (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
non-descript laterality (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
grimacing (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tremors, tics (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
uncontrolled movements (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
defects in organization, fluency and coordination of active volitional movements (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
impaired self-perception of the body (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
A material prerequisite for success in school is the attainment of a certain developmental level of motor skills. That is why the diagnostics of such motor development is important also with respect to various disorders of the central nervous system. Motorics is one of the basic behavioral aspects and as such needs to be monitored in behavioral assessment.

7. Psychomotor instability
Typical symptoms of psychomotor instability include for instance the following:
great liveliness, agility bordering on restlessness (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
unable to sit still, fidgets, leaves his/her place (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
talks without invitation, interrupts others (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
acts rashly, on impulse, without thinking (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
unable to cooperate satisfactorily (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
moves rashly, bumps into objects, falls (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
unable to focus on any game, activity, work for any length of time (0 - 1 - 2
- 3)
does not pay attention, is distracted, attention problems, unable to concentrate (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tires easily (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
moodiness, disputes, conflicts (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
conspicuous alternation of days when he/she is doing very well and days when he/she is completely out of control and does very badly at everything (0 - 1 - 2
- 3)
inappropriate exclamations (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
Zelinková (2003) focuses on specific learning difficulties and disorders and their causes, dyslexia, dyspraxia and MBD, also in connection with motor skills.
Newly introduced terms are syndromes abbreviated as ADHD and ADD.

8. Social, educational and cultural neglect
Individuals with this difficulty manifest for instance the following symptoms:
poor preparation for school (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
educational problems, although the child's intellectual gifts are within the norm (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
poor understanding of information newly presented at school due to large gaps in knowledge (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
primitive and vulgar forms of social communication (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
small vocabulary (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
developmental problems in speech and written language (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
poor grooming (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
disorder in private things (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of interest in reading magazines and books (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of interest in cultural matters (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of interest in theatre plays and serious cinema (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
retarded somatic development, stunted growth, low weight etc. (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
Families of socially neglected children often tend to be primitive (simple), providing few psychosocial and cultural incentives, or even defective (alcoholism, drug abuse, criminal activity, mental illness), and generally insufficient in terms of upbringing.
A disturbed family (incomplete, defective, in crisis) creates worse prerequisitesfor the formation of its children's development than a complete and undisturbed family. a broken family, especially due to divorce, correlates positively with anxiety symptoms, for example.
Manifestations of psychosocial neglect are frequently accompanied by further problems and disorders: increased mental tension or even neurosis, antisocial behavior, etc.
The hostile relationship between the parents and the child often leads to childmistreatment, abuse (e.g., sexual), sometime even to the child's physical liquidation.
Socially neglected children have to be distinguished from children with a socio-cultural handicap. The latter may for instance concern children of immigrants who findadaptation to the new environment difficult because of national customs or language barrier.

9. Problems in school performance
Individuals with problems in school performance:
suffer from learning difficulties (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
have results below average despite significant effort (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
do not learn logically and rationally (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
have a negative attitude to school and learning (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
fail to comprehend (á) (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tend toward mechanical memorizing (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
are slow to understand new information (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
seem to be overworked, mentally exhausted (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tend to suffer from low self-confidence (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
feel inadequate or even inferior (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
are passive aggressive, refuse social communication (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
have a poorly developed ability to abstract (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
Relative school failure may be caused by socio-psychological, biological-psychological and intrapsychic factors. a single isolated handicap (e.g., worse conditions in the family) does not automatically have to have a determining impact on the pupil's success at school. School failure is usually due to a combination of several conditions and causes.

10. Problems in professional and study orientation and adaptation
The following are deemed to constitute problems in professional and study orientation and adaptation:
indecisiveness in the choice of career or school (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of interest in further study (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of interest in a specific profession (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
laziness (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
absence without excuse (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
tendency to job hopping (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
failure to observe sanitary rules at work (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
failure to observe safety rules at work (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
inadequate and unrealistic choice of career (study) in terms of ability or motivation etc. (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
lack of involvement in the choice of career or study (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
passive or indifferent approach to one's own future (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
manifestation of difficult adaptation to the chosen field of study or profession (0
- 1 - 2 - 3)
manifestation of negative attitude to the chosen field of study or profession (0 - 1 - 2 - 3)
The conditions and causes for the occurrence of behavioral difficulties can be the following:
biogenous - congenital factors, including heredity
sociogenous - e.g., parentogeny (caused by the family), pedagogeny (caused byupbringing or education - Helus, 1991)
psychogenous - due for instance to intellectual passivity, escalated pubescentchanges of nature, etc.
Educators need to exert a deliberate, purposeful and consistent influence over the
individuals being educated so as to ensure positive development of their personalities. For such efforts to be effective, we first need to get to know the children in the educational process well.
 

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