THERE IS NOTHING PROFOUND in the use of the term complex child. I selected it because I feel the terms challenging child and complicated child—in the literature regarding developmental disabilities that I have read—are overused and may not demonstrate the type of child I am trying to describe. Since I have started using the term, I have seen autism described as ‘‘a complex developmental disability.’’ The term as I use it could certainly describe some children with autism but is not limited by diagnosis.

Complex child is used here to describe a child whose behavior and responses to treatment are so challenging that he (or she) is often described by doctors, educators, and social-work professionals as ‘‘one of the most ...

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