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12 and HoldingA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Lethal InheritanceA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Special EducationA Toss Of The DiceA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainABC of Eating DisordersADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeADHD Grown UpADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention StrategiesAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAlpha GirlsAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAsperger's and GirlsAssessment of Childhood DisordersAttention Deficit DisorderAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderAutism - The Eighth Colour of the RainbowAutism and MeAutism's False ProphetsAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Before I DieBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBipolar ChildrenBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoy AloneBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingBullying PreventionBut I Love HimCan't Eat, Won't EatCaring for a Child with AutismCatalystChild and Adolescent PsychiatryChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChild and Adolescent PsychopathologyChild NeuropsychologyChild Well-BeingChildren and SexualityChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeConcepts of NormalityConcise Guide to Child 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Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?When Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhose America?Why Don't Students Like SchoolWill's ChoiceWinnicott On the ChildWorried All the TimeYou Hear MeYoung Minds in Social WorldsYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
The diagnosis of childhood psychological disorders is a topic that comes up at cocktail parties as often as university seminar rooms, since most of us know children who have been diagnosed with one disorder or another. ADHD, child bipolar disorder, learning disabilities—these are far from arcane terms today, and anyone who has children or works with them has heard them more often than they would probably like. The diagnosis of these disorders is based on assessments by various mental health professionals, and for almost 30 years, Assessment of Childhood Disorders has served as a guide to the tools used in clinical assessments as well as the issues that arise while conducting them. Its new edition is the longest yet, 800 pages with information on 16 different conditions, including some that are rarely covered in competing texts.
The first, introductory chapter is a careful analysis of the issues common to all child assessment situations, and at times, the issues can seem overwhelming. The chapter reads like a like a list of things not to be forgotten when assessing children: the importance of the situation in determining children's thoughts, feelings and behaviors; the importance of assessing the family and other contexts as well as the child; the need for assessment to yield information relevant to treatment planning as well as prognosis; the various advantages and disadvantages of "labeling" children as having a disorder; and so on. Although the list may seem so inclusive that nothing is left out, the authors do privilege some approaches to assessment over others; for instance, they argue that clinicians should search the immediate environment for the causes of symptoms before exploring the remote past of children's histories, and they argue for viewing children's behaviors displayed during an assessment as samples of their typical behavior, rather than as signs of underlying thoughts and feelings. These positions are consistent with a behavioral approach to assessment, one that appears to guide many of the other chapters.
The other chapters are each devoted to a specific disorder or set of disorders, and they vary widely in comprehensiveness; the chapter on ADHD is almost 80 pages long whereas the chapter on early-onset schizophrenia is only 25 pages long. However, just the presence of a chapter on schizophrenia in children sets the book apart from other assessment texts, and if its chapter is shorter than the others, that reflects the comparative lack of research on child schizophrenia (and correspondingly low prevalence) rather than any carelessness on the part of the authors. Another unique contribution is the chapter on pediatric bipolar disorder; although the diagnosis is now quite common, it is surprisingly difficult to find general reviews on its assessment, and this chapter integrates the latest research along with critical thinking about the construct of bipolar disorder in children.
The editors have allowed the authors of each chapter to determine the type of information that is most pertinent to each disorder, and although this leads to unevenness across chapters, the reader benefits from it. For instance, the chapter on suicidal and self-harming behavior includes helpful information on ethical issues and emergent situations, while the chapter on child abuse reviews current legal controversies. Another quality varying across chapters is the way in which authors deal with controversies in the assessment and diagnosis of each disorder. For instance, in the chapter on pediatric bipolar disorder, Eric Youngstrom acknowledges the tremendous increase in diagnosed cases and notes the perception, common to many psychologists, that the disorder is being overdiagnosed. He then proceeds to defuse many of the concerns by pointing out similarities between bipolar symptoms in children and adults and noting the utility of a bipolar diagnosis in treatment planning. In their chapter on learning disabilities, Deborah Speece and Sara Himes take a different approach; they discuss the two major approaches to LD identification (assessing information processing skills and monitoring a student's responsiveness to remedial instruction) separately, before providing a critical evaluation of each and concluding that "both approaches require more work to claim the high ground."
Since the primary purpose of Assessment of Childhood Disorders is to review research related to assessment tools and issues, its treatment of controversial issues, while stimulating, takes a back seat to didacticism. And indeed, the text serves its reference function very well. It is comprehensive in the sense of covering many conditions (e.g., personality disorders in adolescents) not covered by other assessment texts, even if the coverage of each condition is somewhat unique. Admittedly, it is too technical for most parents and schoolteachers interested in childhood disorders, but it is perfect for graduate students and practicing clinicians, as well as behavioral science researchers interested in getting up to date on conditions that may relate to their own work. Moreover, as Eric Mash and John Hunsley detail in the opening chapter, much has changed since the last time the text was published (in 1997), and so those who benefited from the earlier edition would do well to update their libraries with this one.
© 2008 Benjamin J. Lovett
Benjamin J. Lovett, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology at Elmira College, where he teaches classes on a variety of topics in applied psychology and his research focuses on the conceptual and psychometric foundations of psychoeducational assessment and psychiatric diagnosis.