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What's the difference  between behavioral issues and behavioral disorders?

Behavioral Disorders 

This term is used to categorize on-going behavior problems typically seen in children that affect the individual's ability to participate independently in daily living skills and social activities. These diagnoses are given after a health professional has conducted an evaluation. Children with a disorder may be recommended for a higher frequency of treatment hours or for a longer time period, as compared to an individual with behavioral issues.

Behavioral Issues 

This term is used to describe any behavior or lack of a behavior that is interfering with an individual's ability to interact appropriately with their environment. Behavioral issues do not require a formal diagnosis, and a large amount of these issues may be resolved with short term treatments. 

Applied Behavior Analysis is an evidenced based procedure that can be effective in treating symptoms of behavioral issues or disorders. 


What's the difference  between behavioral issues and behavioral disorders?

Common Behavioral Disorders

The most common behavior disorders diagnosed in children are: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, learning disorders, and conduct disorders.

Some of these items may fall under mental health, however symptoms produced from mental health conditions can often be treated with behavioral health techniques in addition. For example, an individual who has an anxiety disorder may feel anxious, but may also produce a behavioral reaction such as hair pulling. Talk therapy may be recommended to address the anxious feelings and ABA therapy may be recommended to address the inappropriate behaviors.

Common Behavioral Issues

There is no list of common behavioral issues, because problem behaviors such as disruption, crying, or tantrums are very normal. What constitutes behavioral issues are when these behaviors are occurring at a frequency that affect's the individuals ability to participate in their environment.  Behavioral issues are not always due to an excess (such as too much screaming) but may arise from deficits. For example, a child may lack the skills necessary to get a peer's  attention, which results in them aggressing with a peer to obtain a reaction. Behavioral services can be used to teach replacement behaviors such as saying "Look at me," instead of engaging in aggression.

Severe Behavioral Issues

Sever behavioral issues may affect the individual's safety and ability to function appropriately with others. Because of the severity of these behaviors, it is important the provider is experienced with safety protocols in addition to intervention planning.  Our organization has experience and receives on-going supplemental training for the following behaviors:

  • Aggression

  • Self-Injurious Behavior

  • Property Destruction

  • Elopement

  • Noncompliance

  • Tantrums

  • Stereotypies

  • Social and Nonsocial Rigidity

If the individual is engaging in the above behaviors, it is important to reach out for professional support as soon as possible. ​


Know the Signs

Signs of Common Behavioral Disorders in Children

Start the conversation with your primary care physician about what  actions can be done with behavioral issues. Research has shown intervention at an early age, can address problems before they become worse. 

Click on                  to learn more on each topic.

**This will navigate you away from Dream Team Behavioral Services website. 

Attention Deficit/
Hyperactivity Disorder

Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active. It is the most common neurodevelopment disorder in children. 


  • daydream a lot

  • forget or lose things a lot

  • squirm or fidget

  • talk too much

  • make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks

  • have a hard time resisting temptation

  • have trouble taking turns

  • have difficulty getting along with others

The CDC recommends behavioral intervention as the first line of treatment if the individuals is under 6 years old. 

Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Individuals with ODD are diagnosed between the ages of 8 and 12. Children with ODD are more likely to act oppositional or defiant around people they know well, such as family members, a regular care provider, or a teacher. 


  • Often being angry or losing one’s temper

  • Often arguing with adults or refusing to comply with adults’ rules or request

  • Often resentful or spiteful

  • Deliberately annoying others or becoming annoyed with others

  • Often blaming other people for one’s own mistakes or misbehavior

When these behaviors occur at a frequency high enough to cause problems in the home or school setting, a behavioral intervention may be necessary.

Learn More About ODD

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is considered a developmental disability under the DMS-5 and as the name spectrum indicates individuals with ASD will have varying needs of support levels.  ASD affect's a variety of areas such as adaptive skills, social, and communication skills. 


  • may not respond to or label things in the environment

  • have trouble relating to others / interest in other people at all

  • avoid eye contact and want to be alone

  • have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings

  • may be sensitive to physical touch

  • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds.

  • be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them

  • repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language

  • have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions

  • may not play “pretend” games or play with other toys functionally

  • repeat actions over and over again

  • have trouble adapting when a routine changes

  • have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound

  • lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)

Getting a diagnosis is the first step in accessing treatment, your pediatrician will be able to help you identify critical members of your child's team.

Developmental Delays

A developmental delay refers to a child who has not gained the developmental skills expected of him or her, compared to others of the same age. Delays may occur in the areas of motor function, speech language, cognitive, play, and social skills. Developmental regression refers to when the individual begins to lose previous skills.  Developmental milestones refer to foundational skills and behaviors children typically acquire at a specific age (such as babbling, or walking). Being aware of expected developmental milestones can help identify whether behaviors or lack of behaviors are normal and how to intervene.  The CDC has created a Milestone Checklist to help parent identify important milestones in the areas of language, social, motor, and play. Click on an age below to access the Milestone Checklist.

2 Years Old

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Cute Toddler

3 Years Old

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Kid Playing with Bubble

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4 Years Old

Boy Coloring

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5 Years Old

Raising Arms

Developmental screening can also help identify specific skills that may not be obvious to parents.

Learn More about Developmental Milestones

Learn More about Developmental Delays

For more information on how we can assist with behavioral disorders and issues complete the Enrollment Form to identify possible treatment options. 

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