Gabrielle Carlson’s “Early Onset Bipolar Disorder” (2005) article explains the certainty in diagnosing prepubertal children as a delicate matter. As an accurate diagnosis turns childhood into a minefield, a misdiagnosis belittles the complexities of children. Applying science and rooting characteristics out of a child is burdened with flukes. There is more arguing about a child not having a disorder than there is in accepting how an undeveloped youth can be diagnosed.
A prepubertal child should not be diagnosed with a bipolar disorder because he may grow out of it. It’s a flippant excuse but also the most natural decision to take. The behavior is pardoned as “emotionally liable” (Carlon 2005, p. 334) by which a child is fleetingly overstressed and acts accordingly. This speculation leaves no one person to blame. Time passes, and what could seem unusual was actually quite commonplace. As in, extreme emotions are an ordinary performance for children: aggression, frenzy, and anxiousness. These traits stand out in the controlled, lukewarm tendencies of adulthood but would seem more natural for children because they are still experiencing life for the first time. It’s a brief and poignant note that Emil Kraeplin’s bipolar spectrum was based only on adult conduct simply because “Kraeplin did not have to be concerned with development” (p. 335).
Diagnosing an immature body leaves much room for doubt, and a lot more for presumption and error. A child is still a beginner, a learner, in the range of human development. How can someone not yet pubertal (by means of emotions induced by biological hormones, and reengaging society at this body-sensitive time) be diagnosed with something that has only been pronounced in someone older and less stimulated by their environment? More importantly, how can some who isn’t comprehensive in self-awareness, or able to realize the inquisitive intension of others, be considered answerable (p. 337)? These are the questions that prevent a verdict. Children are continually growing. They learn over time what is and isn’t acceptable, and eventually certain characteristics are weeded out. In that respect, it is much safer to analyze adults.
If a child such as Darren, symptoms of hyperactivity, hostility, and vanity were prematurely diagnosed, his answer of “I was too little to know better” (p. 337) would be coming from a very different place. He could have been medicated when it wasn’t necessary, or worse, had adverse reactions to the medication (p. 339). The subtext is that he has somewhat matured in the last couple of years. Though he still has a child with aggression and awkward interactions, Darren is a bit more knowledgeable about himself and his person compared to others. At seven-years-old, he has come closer to acceptable behavior—by what emotional liability allows—Darren calmed down.
Notwithstanding, the actuality of children with mental disorders is overdue in being accepted. “For the past thousand years” there have been notes on “behaviors we currently call mania” in children that were set aside as tantrums (p. 334). And that is the controversy: children are elevated and evaluated in a manner that pinpoints their tantrums as something much more serious. This doesn’t swallow every child who’s fussed in public or opposed authority but it is understandable to why adults are anxious about it. The earlier that child is diagnosed, the sooner they are going to be plagued with cold analysis, medical bills, and maneuvering their lifestyle around doctors’ orders. Preceding those extremes, there should be a lot more respect to the child and what they are experiencing.
A child should be diagnosed with onset bipolar disorder on a case-by-case basis. This method will not focus on the child in one dimension but in other aspects of her life. They must be seen as product of circumstances instead of the single disruption amongst order. The younger the child is, the more an emphasis should be placed on the environment. Focusing on the environment detects irregularity. This is much more than a one-on-one interview using conscientious language and diving assumptions (p. 335-336). This is looking into a child’s home, family, school, and self compared to others. Grant it, the bipolar spectrum is based on the symptoms of adults of the same disorder. Though the environments of the separate child and adult cannot be compared, the symptoms of the adult should been seen as what the full-fledged disorder consist of.
Analyzing children with disorders is not a standard but it is unique. Whether a diagnosis is correct should depend on internal as well as external stimulus. Not diagnosing a child gives them the space for improvement and benefit of the doubt by accepting mood swings as normal. Though everyone is capable of extreme behavior, we can only hope that those who need the care are helped. A verdict on concise symptoms in a young person not only builds a relatable study for that age group but also support confidence in the child herself. A bipolar child’s health should not be considered unconvincing because the history has a better record of older people.
Carlson, G. A. (2005). Early Onset Bipolar Disorder: Clinical and Research Considerations. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34 (2), 333–343.