A parent sometimes wonders if his or her child has a significant emotional or behavior problem or something less serious.
Is the child having trouble with his school work? Is he angry or sad or having temper problems? Is he having trouble getting along with his teachers? Is he having problems with the family, with mom or dad or brothers or sisters? Is he going through a normal stage or is his problem something that needs to be treated and diagnosed?
There is an excellent resource on the internet that can help you make that decision. It is called the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire [download link] and is available online at no charge for download from the SDQ Info site.
However, the authors recommend using the online questionnaire and scoring system. [As of March 1, 2017 there is a fee for the online service but as of 6-23-2017 you can still download the Questionnaire at no charge and hand score it].
It turns out that about 10% of children at any one time will be having serious emotional or behavior problems that interfere with a child’s learning and development or cause he/she or the family significant mental and emotional suffering.
Maybe another 15% may have less serious emotional or behavior problems at any given time.
The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire is for parents, teachers, or other care takers of children from two to seventeen years old. You fill out an online questionnaire and receive an immediate report and the report is confidential. In the report, there will be five different scores for five different scales.
The scales are: emotional symptoms scale, conduct problems scale, hyperactivity scale, peer problems scale, and prosocial scale. There is also an impact supplement scale available (which should be used) which generates an impact score (how much distress and impairment the problems are causing).
The relatively simple scoring forms are also available online as is a computerized score done for you. And all this at no charge.
The computerized report will tell you whether the child scores in the high, average, or low range for each of the scales. And the report will give the probability, based on the child’s score, that an expert would make a diagnosis. It will also make some suggestions for further steps.
Parents, teachers, and other caretakers should consider this resource.
For doctors and other clinicians who wish to use the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in their practices there is a website for clinicians at www.sdqinfo.net. At that site, there are a complete set of norms for the US population and there are articles on the science of the SDQ. In addition, there are article summaries comparing the SDQ to other instruments such as the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist. And also at the site all the forms can be downloaded as pdfs for use in the practice.