Understanding Childhood Psychiatric Disorders (Dr. Joshua Sparrow)

Understanding Childhood Psychiatric Disorders (Dr. Joshua Sparrow)


One of the hardest things a parent may have to face is a mental illness or psychiatric disorder in their child. It is terrifying both in the present and in the future. What is the best way to diagnose mental illness in children and what is the best way to treat it?


Intended Audience:

This course is designed for adoption professionals and pre/post-adoptive families.

1- Hour Online Audio Course (Certificate of completion will be immediately awarded upon successful completion of the course including passing a 10 question quiz with a grade of 80%)

Course Overview:

One of the hardest things a parent may have to face is a mental illness or psychiatric disorder in their child. It is terrifying both in the present and in the future. What is the best way to diagnose mental illness in children and what is the best way to treat it? Should psychotropic drugs be used and are psychiatric medicines safe for children? In this course, Dr. Joshua Sparrow, child and adolescent psychiatrist, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Strategy, Planning and Program Development at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Children’s Hospital Boston, talks about what parents need to know about common childhood psychiatric disorders such as reactive attachment disorder, sensory processing disorders, and oppositional defiant disorder.

This course includes:

  • How can you tell if your child is just going through a hard time or a developmental stage or if your child is suffering from some type of mental illness or disorder which requires more intervention? In other words, when should you worry?
  • What are the symptoms or warning signs of some of the more common mental illnesses that can be seen in children?
  • What can be the causes for a child who acts out and cannot control his anger?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a specific diagnosis for your child?
  • Are there certain ages that a child is more likely to be diagnosed of referred to a specialist for suspected mental disorders?
  • How is bipolar disorder diagnosed in children?
  • Must a child be diagnosed with a psychiatric condition in order to receive services or be helped?
  • What steps should parents take to get a proper diagnosis for mental disorders?
  • What are the dangers of early diagnosing of a child, or maybe the better way to ask this is there a downside to having a mental illness label in a young child’s school and medical records?
  • Many in our audience will have children who were adopted and they know little about the prenatal habits of the birthmother and sometimes little information about the child’s early life experiences. Sometimes a logical reaction to a lousy life experience is to develop behaviors that might have served you well in the dysfunctional place you came from but are not healthy in a new family setting. Or, a child may struggle with sensory overload having come from a very sensory deprived background. Or struggle with trust and attachment issues. Is it possible to tease out these conditions vs. actual mental illness?
  • Using psychiatric medication on children is a controversial topic. What types of psychiatric disorders in children respond well to medication?
  • What are the side effects of the more common pediatric psychiatric medications?
  • What are the risks of medicating a developing mind?
  • Are there ways to ameliorate or lessen these side effects from psychotropic drugs in children?
  • Can a child outgrow a psychiatric disorder or once diagnosed they will likely have it for life?
  • How do growth spurts or puberty affect children with psychiatric issues and how does it affect their medication is they are taking any?

Please contact the Education Director for technical assistance or disability accommodations.

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