Sunday, May 27, 2007
Clinic Notes: The "Brat Syndrome" and Autism
When I was first starting out in ABA 30 + years ago I recall reading an article titled "The Brat Syndrome." The thesis of the article was that noncompliant behavior and tantrums or "brat behavior" in a child does not by itself constitute any psychiatric disorder or neuropsychological disorder. At the time ADHD was being over diagnosed and often children would receive an ADHD diagnosis just because they were noncompliant and had frequent tantrums (brat like). Now I see the same thing happening with autism. Noncompliant children are coming to my clinic with an autism diagnosis, usually conferred by a Special Ed teacher rather than a psychologist, pediatric neurologist, or psychiatrist. Many of my colleagues and associates do not like me to tell a parent that their child has the "Brat Syndrome." And I certainly do not tell a lot of parents that even when it is true. But a lot of parents are relieved when they hear that their child has the "Brat Syndrome" rather than autism.