Personality disorder is a term used to denote a group of mental disorders, where the behavior and thinking of the affected individual is not along social norms or culture. Such behavior is rigid and deeply ingrained, and affects the functioning and life of that individual, where he could be a danger to himself and others. While there are many types of personality disorders, little is known about their manifestation in young adults or children. While an adult can go through a complete screening process, there are few personality disorder tests for children. In this article, learn more about such disorders in children and different diagnostic methods.
Personality Disorders in Children
Personality disorders are most apparent later in life, when an individual matures. The diagnostic age for most disorders is above 30. It is thought that the causes of such a disorder in a person, are present in his/hers adolescence, and very rarely in childhood. In fact the signs and symptoms of a disorder appear after age 20, because the personality of an individual is completely formed and his/hers traits and behavior begin to manifest themselves. Any signs of deviant behavior from childhood are outgrown. Therefore diagnosis of personality disorders in children younger than 18, is very rarely carried out, and not regarded as appropriate.
Research conducted has led to a new concept in the field of personality disorders in children. A personality development disorder is the term given to certain traits and habits or behavioral points, which if present in a child, could result in him/her developing a personality disorder. This term takes the effect of age and maturing circumstances of children into consideration. If certain marked patterns and trouble signs exist in a child, it is the beginning of a progressing disorder. As such there are differences in therapy and treatment options.
Personality Disorder Tests for Children
Some tests are disorder specific, others are general and used to show any deviant behavior. These non-specific tests can even be one part of a series of tests, if behavioral traits are varied and too diverse to pin down the exact disorder. The following are some personality disorder tests for kids:
Rorschach Inkblot Test
Though the question of how far the test is useful has been an issue of debate, it is agreed that the test proves effective in studying personality and emotional stability in a person, especially in the starting stages. It is therefore a very common and almost mandatory personality test.
In this test, the subject is shown different vague pictures, with no fixed design or shape, on a white background. The only feature common in each picture, is the inkblot like shape or pattern. The subject is shown the card and asked to describe his/hers ideas of what is on the card. The simplicity of the test makes it an ideal personality disorder exam for children, and this test elicits unconscious and honest ideas and thoughts from even the most reserved of candidates.
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
This is a written test, consisting of true/false questions for a fixed time period. There are 2 versions of the test, a standard version for adults and an adolescent version, which has 478 questions and a time period of 45 minutes. The questions themselves, are tailored for a less mature and teenage issues audience, with language set at a 6th grade reading level. The true and false question format is used, since it presents a realistic moral dilemma to the subject, as to what is wrong and right. This test evaluates a child’s attitude, ideas and morality and can highlight behavioral traits that could be signs of a personality disorder.
The Five Factor Personality Inventory – Children
This test is a special derivative of the 5 factor personality theory, adapted for children from ages 9-18. The 5 factors that make up a personality are agreeableness, extroversion, openness to experience, conscientiousness and emotional regulation. The test consists of 75 items with a duration of 45 minutes. Rather than true or false, the subject is presented with two opposite views and asked to choose, out of 5 statements, that expresses his or hers opinion the best. This test counts among the most popular disorder tests for children, and can be taken individually or in a group.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test
This indicator test is a written evaluation, consisting of multiple choice questions. The test is based on the theory, that there are 16 different personality types and division of individuals into 4 basic types, introverts, sensors, thinkers and judgers. Subjects can skip certain questions, and in some must make one choice. The language level is a bit high and some of the questions require a certain maturity level, so it is prescribed for children above 12 years of age.
The above tests should be carried out and conducted by a trained professional, preferably with some experience in childhood mental issues. Such tests require a lengthy period of evaluation and understanding, as misdiagnoses are common. Parents and other people involved in the child’s life must be questioned separately, for a better and accurate diagnosis of the problem. Some practitioners urge joint test sessions, where both the child and parents take a test together. Based on the outcome of personality tests and personal interviews, a correct diagnosis can be reached.