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During the course of normal interaction with one another, we observe each other’s mannerisms, responses, movements, and communications. In a sense, a person’s behavior is determined by how he or she acts or reacts to internal and external stimuli. What is considered normal behavior is often age-specific and person-specific. For example, the response of a teenager to the early morning “buzz” of an alarm clock is usually a purposeful attempt to shut the alarm off; an infant may cry as a response to the same stimulus. Similarly, children who have certain chronic illnesses, such as static encephalopathy, may have blunted responses as a baseline behavior. Although major changes in behavior are readily apparent to any clinician, subtle changes often are appreciated best by parents and caretakers.

Essential to the evaluation of abnormalities in a child’s behavior is an understanding of levels...

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