- Defining child abnormality is complex and involves :
o Context of children’s ongoing adaptation and development
o Sorting out the most probable cause of identified problems
- Study of abnormal child behaviour requires an understanding of developmental processes
and of individual and situational events that can influence the course and direction of a
particular child’s life
- Studying normal development informs our theories of abnormal development, and vice
versa. To understand maladaptive behavior, one must view it in relation to what is considered
What is causing Jorge’s problems? Case study in the textbook! (bad grade, he thinks it’s due to his
professors, his parents think he is dumb!)
- Theory: a language of science that allows us to assemble and communicate existing
o Allows us to make educated guesses and predictions about behavior based on
samples of knowledge
- Etiology: the study of the causes of childhood disorders
o Considers how biological, psychological and environmental processes interact to
produce the outcomes that are observed over time.
- Multiple, interactive causes, rather than one-dimensional models- help in understanding the
complexity of disorders
- Abnormal development is multiply determined
o Must look beyond current symptoms and consider developmental pathways and
interacting events that, over time, contribute to the expression of a disorder
- Children and environments are interdependent
o Transactional view: the dynamic interaction of child and environment are
independent (how they could influence each other). This influence refers to a
- Abnormal development involves continuities and discontinuities:
o Continuity: developmental changes are gradual and quantitative: predictive of future
behavior patterns (a child aggressive will be aggressive all his life)
Well supported for early onset and persistent conduct disorders.
o Discontinuity: developmental changes are abrupt and qualitative; not predictive of
future behavior patterns
More common in eating disorders and autism
- Changes: typical and atypical
o Guidelines for the typical sequence of development are helpful, but age in years is an
arbitrary way to segment continuous sequences of development
Pilget’ fcahi ared
o Arranging information into structures he called schemes (how we understand the
world, and then we start to interact with world, if the experience it’s new… new
- Adaptation: o In adjusting to our environment we can:
o Assimilate (fit into scheme) or
o Accommodate (alter scheme) => I thought that but I have to change the definition (4
places is a table and after I see a table with 7 places.. change my definition)
o Sensorimotor stage begins to interact
o Preoperational stage: starts symbolic representation
o Concrete operational stage: child learns rules
o Formal operational stage: adolescents transcend concrete situations and think about
- Environmental and individual factors contribute important insights into normal and abnormal
- Each model is restricted in its ability to explain abnormal behavior to the extent that it fails to
incorporate important components of other models. But over time, major theories of
abnormal child psychology have become compatible with one another.
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- Adaptational failure is the failure to master or progress in accomplishing developmental
o Children with psychological disorders differ from children their own age on some
aspect of normal development
- Early patterns of adaptation evolve with structure over time and transform into higher-order
o Prior patterns are incorporated into successive reorganizations at subsequent periods
- Implies an active, dynamic process of continual change and transformation
- Sensitive periods are windows of time during which environmental influences on
development are enhanced => critical window: I am not able to say H in english
- Development is a process of increasing differentiation and integration and proceeds in an
organized, hierarchical manner
o Current abilities or limitations are influenced by prior accomplishments
Bio ogical fper pecative
- neurological perspective: sees brain and nervous system function as underlying causes of
- The fetal brain develops from all-purpose cells into a complex organ made up of specialized,
- Embryonic development generates an initial overabundance of neurons that are initially
o As they reach their destinations, they become specialized and carry electrical signals
to other parts of the brain o Synapses (axonal connections) form the brain’s circuits and lay foundation for further
growth and differentiation
- By the 5 month of prenatal development, most axons have reached their general destination,
but there are far more axons than the target cells can accommodate.
- During early childhood, selective pruning reduces the number of connections that shape and
differentiate important brain functions
- Throughout life we undergo cycles that narrow the gap between structure and function
o The microanatomy of the brain is constantly redefined to meet the demande and
requirements of an adults world
- Scientists now believe that brain functions undergo continual changes as they adapt to
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- The brain shows neural plasticity throughout the course of development
- Experience plays critical role in brain development with transaction occurring between
ongoing brain development and environmental experiences.
- Maturation of the brain is organized. It’s a hierarchical process that builds on earlier function
with brain structures restructuring and growing.
- Primitive areas of the brain mature first during the first 3 years of life (sensory and motor
- Prefrontal cortex (making decision, planning) and cerebellum (balance, motor skills) are not
rewired until 5 or 7.
- Major restructuring of the brain occurs btn 9 and 11 in relation to pubertal development.
- Brain shaped by experience.
- Genome : 20000 to 25000 genes
- 22 matched pairs of chromosomes and a single pair of sex chromosomes
- Male: XY, female: XX
- Genetics influences are expressed early in development. But this influence is malleable and
responsive to the social environment. Positive environmental circumstances can help a child
despite genetic predisposition.
- A branch of genetics that investigates possible connections between a genetic predisposition
and observed behavior, taking into account environmental and genetic influences.
- At the beginning of their investigations by conducting familial aggregation studies.
- For example: parents of children with childhood-onset schizophrenia tend to have higher
rates of schizophrenia spectrum disorders relative to normative prevalence rates.
- To increase scientific rigor following suggestive familial aggregation studies, researchers may
conduct twin studies to control for the contribution of genetic factors.
- The crucial scientific question is whether identical twins share the same trait more than
fraternal twins do.
Molecular genetics: - In contrast to the methods of behavioral genetics, methods of molecular genetics offer more
direct support for genetic influences on child psychopathology.
- Molecular genetics methods directly assess the association between variations in DNA
sequences and variations in a particular trait or traits.
- The longer-term goal is to determine how genetic mutation alter how the genes function in
the development of the brain and behavior for different psychopathologies.
- Similar and multiple interactive genes are a far more likely cause than a single gene. Most for
of abnormal child behavior are po ygedica.
- Specific gene are often associated with certain psychological disorders, such as some forms of
Nenrobio ogical fcaodtribntiod :
Brain structure and function:
- The brain is divided into brain stem and forebrain (they have separate functions).
- Brain stem: autonomic functions to stay alive.
- The lowest part of the brain stem: the hindbrain contains medulla, pons and cerebellum. The
hindbrain regulates autonomic activities (breathing, digestion) and cerebellum controls
- Midbrain (also a part of the brain stem): coordinates movement with sensory input. Such as
reticular activating system RAS, which contributes to processes of arousal and tension.
- Top of the brain stem: diencephalon with thalamus and hypothalamus (regulates emotion
and behavior). The diencephalon is a relay between the forebrain and the brain stem.
- The forebrain: highly specialized functions. At the base: system limbic (might be involves in
disorders with hippocampus, cingulate gyrus, septum and amygdala). The limbic system
regulates emotional experiences, learning and impulse control but also the basic drives.
Also, at the base of the forebrain: basal ganglia (with caudate nucleus) which regulates,
organizes and filters information related to cognition, emotions, mood and motor function.
So the basal ganglia is implicated in attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder/disorders
affecting motor behavior (tics and tremor)/obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- The cerebral cortex: largest part of the forebrain and allows us to look to the future and pan.
He is divided into two hemispheres with different specialties. The left: verbal and cognitive
process. The right: social perception and creativity. (the both play a different role in
- At the puberty the brain develops new brain cells and neural connections (maturation of the
lobes of the brain).
- The frontal lobes: thinking and reasoning abilities including memory. Allows us to make social
relationship, and relate to the world around us. All these functions continue to mature into
late adolescence and early adulthood.
The endocrine system:
- Regulatory system linked to anxiety and mood disorders (in children and adults).
- Each glandes produces a particular hormone releasing into the blood stream.
- The adrenal glands (on the top of the kidneys/ rognon) produce epinephrine into response to
- The thyroid gland produces hormone thyroxin: proper energy metab