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Free Practice Question: Kid Trouble and the Social Work Exam

angry kid Here's something to help you get prepared to pass the social work licensing exam. It's part of our ongoing, intermittent, free question series. Put yourself in this social worker's shoes and figure out what you would do?

A woman tells a social worker that her son has been misbehaving wildly ever since starting kindergarten, over a month ago. He's angry and irritable, throwing frequent tantrums. He's defiant and argumentative over small things. And he's been exhibiting a troubling vindictive streak, cruelly evening the score with his younger sister, escalating petty squabbles into full-blown battles. "He's turned into a little monster," the woman says. What diagnosis is the BEST fit for the son, given the limited information the mother has provided?

A. No diagnosis is indicated

B. Oppositional Defiant Disorder

C. Intermittent Explosive Disorder

D. Conduct Disorder

What do you think?

Let's look at DSM criteria for the offered diagnoses and narrow our way down to an answer.

Conduct disorder is characterized by theft, destruction of property, and other serious rules violations. Not what's being described here.

Intermittent explosive disorder involves tantrums and a failure to control aggressive impulses over a year-long period. Closer, but not the best fit.

Oppositional defiant disorder looks good for this. It involves everything mentioned--anger and irritability, defiance, and vindictiveness. That's your best bet...but read the find print. To diagnose ODD, behaviors have to be present for six months. This month-long onset of symptoms looks to be connected to the start of a new school year--something many have first-hand experience with.

That leaves one answer: A, no diagnosis.

How best to help the distressed client and her son? That's a question for another vignette. But normalizing and assessing stressors from school seem like good places to start.

For lots more vignette practice covering the wide range of material that can appear on the social work exam, try our full-length practice tests. Get started here.

Happy studying!

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