Abnormal Psychology Case Study
Angelina is a seven-year-old female who was referred to behavioral health rehabilitative services by her first-grade teacher. Angelina arrived to her intake appointment with her mother (Susan) and younger brother (Billy). Susan reported that she is a single, unemployed parent who struggles to meet the special needs of her children, who each present with a different set of behavioral concerns. Angelina has no contact with her biological father and her mother reported that Angelina has witnessed domestic violence between her parents in the past. The family resides in a two-bedroom apartment in a county-subsidized housing complex and relies on public transportation. Angelina will be entering the second grade after completing first grade twice, as her behavioral issues significantly interfered with her ability to learn. The evaluator conducts a structured interview with Angelina and Susan to gather critical pieces of information about Angelina's behavior and functioning.
Susan reports that extreme tantrum behavior, in the form of screaming, cursing, throwing objects, hitting, punching, and kicking others, and running out of the apartment, is Angelina's primary behavioral issue. When asked what triggers the tantrums, Susan reported that Angelina will tantrum when it is time to eat dinner, brush her teeth, do her homework, turn the television off, etc. Susan stated that, "basically anything that I tell her to do results in a tantrum". It is reported that tantrum behaviors occur every day, sometimes 5-10 times per day, and are usually severe. Susan expressed that she is concerned for the safety of Billy, as Angelina can be physically aggressive toward him. Susan describes Angelina as an irritable child who is easily annoyed by others and does not display much positive emotion. Susan shared reports from Angelina's first grade teacher about tantrums occurring in the classroom when it was time for Angelina to go back to her seat or to share with a peer. She spent a significant time in the guidance office because the teacher could not manage Angelina's behavior along with an entire classroom of first graders. According to Susan, there has been talk about sending Angelina to an alternative school that is more equipped to deal with her behaviors.
Angelina reported that she never gets to do what she wants and it is her mother's fault that she engages in tantrum behaviors. She reported that she has a lot of friends in school despite reports from her teacher that most children avoid Angelina due to her severe behaviors. When asked about how she feels when she hurts her brother, Angelina laughs, displays no empathy, and shows no remorse. Angelina displayed mild tantrum behavior (i.e., whining, arguing, raised voice, throwing crayons) during her intake session when her mother told her to stop coloring and answer a question from the therapist. When Susan is asked about her parenting practices, she reports that she "does her best". She will sometimes spank Angelina, give her time-outs, or take toys away, but the punishments vary and are dependent upon Susan's mood. She reported that she "gives in" to Angelina sometimes because it is easier than arguing with her, or because she is too busy to argue with her.
What should Angelina be diagnosed with? Only one answer is correct.