Our topic category Disorders of Childhood comprises a very large family of mental disorders that are first diagnosed in early or late childhood. This is in contrast to the majority of recognized disorders that generally first appear in late adolescence or early adulthood. While many of these disorders begin during childhood, their effects can persist well into adulthood. Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, and Autism are good examples. It is perfectly legitimate to diagnose an adult with Attention Deficit Disorder if he or she meets criteria.
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Mental vs. Medical Classifications:
There is always a question of whether a given disorder or issue would be better classified as a "mental" or a "medical-biological" disorder. To some degree or another, there is no really firm distinction between mental and medical disorders. Many so called 'mental' disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are now known to be primarily biologically based, while other 'medical' disorders have been shown to have a large 'psychological' component. In making classification decisions, we have followed the lead set out by the authors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standard reference used by psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers in classifying and describing mental disorders.