Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Discipline and behavior issues are a major concern in public schools.
- 5% of students in grades 6- 12 think they are likely to be attacked at school
- 5% of high school students are afraid to go to the restrooms because they think they will be bullied or assaulted
*Students with emotional and behavior disorders are a challenge because they need more structure and intervention which is often difficult for personnel to provide.*
- Early treatment of these disorders was very harsh, and included
- And the use of restraints, like chains and straightjackets.
-Humane treatments concerning mental illness for adults were addressed in the beginning of the 19th century but it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that emotional problems in children were addressed since it was thought only adults were affected.
-In the 1960’s the public school system began to take responsibility for students with emotional and behavior disorders and in 1975 it became law for these students to receive a public education.
Several factors made it such a challenge to study children with these disorders--
1. No consistent set of terms existed to describe these children
2. In many cases mental illness and mental retardation were still being confused and addressed as though a single disorder (disregarding its complexities)
3. Professionals were reluctant to openly admit that children could have mental illness because this view contradicted the long held perspective that only adults were affected
Definitions of Emotional and Behavior Disorders
There are two main definitions of emotional and behavior disorders. IDEA defines those who have the disorder to have emotional disturbance (ED) and the National Coalition on Mental Health and Special Education define it as emotional and behavior disorder (EBD).
-IDEA states that one has emotional disturbance if they have one of more of the following...
1.) an inability to learn, unexplainable by intellectual, sensory, or health factors
2.) an inability to build/maintain interpersonal relationships
3.) inappropriate behavior/feelings under normal circumstances
4.) show unhappiness or depression; and
5.) have a tendency to develop physical symptoms/ fears associates with personal or school problems
-The National Coalition on Mental Health and Special Education argues with the definition above because….
1.) the five criteria for eligibility are not supported by research
2.) the reference to educational performance too narrowly focused on academic learning, leaving out indirect social curriculum
3.) they say that it is unnecessarily confusing, with the intention to exclude only juvenile delinquents
Prevalence of Emotional and Behavior Disorders
- This group of disorders is the fourth largest disability category. It comprises more than 8% of all students receiving special education (which has remained consistent for more than a decade).
- As we learned in Chapter Three, African American students are overrepresented in the category of disability, comprising almost 27% of the students who receive special education for emotional and behavior disorders.
Does Gender Matter…yes
- Far more males than females are diagnosed as having emotional and behavioral disorders
- Researchers estimate that it happens in boys 6-9 times more often than in girls, however this could be because teachers generally see the behaviors in boys, whereas girls tend to internalize them
What other disorder does this remind you of?
Causes of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
1. Biological factors: some emotional and behavior disorders are genetic from a physiological problem, some are from brain injury such as mothers using alcohol or drugs during pregnancy, and some are caused from poor nutrition
2. Psychosocial factors: children are influenced by the people around them, the events they experience, and their living conditions. Chronic stress, stressful life events, childhood maltreatment and other factors such as parent depression can play a huge role.
*it is important to remember that children to have resilience and many students who might be at risk will not develop any disabilities whatsoever.
Characteristics of Those with Emotional & Behavioral Disorders
-The characteristics vary so much that it would be impossible to make an entire list and can be classified as either internal or external behaviors.
-Internal behaviors are those seen as withdrawn or directed inward. These students don’t disrupt class and their needs are often overlooked.
-External behaviors are directed towards others and generally bother both teachers and other students. They are aggressive and violate rules, very easily identified by teachers.
-These students also have an array of emotional characteristics and they behave according to whether they are afraid, angry, or of low self-esteem.
*Because of the presence of these characteristics, many of these students
have very weak social skills and although they have low to average
ability, they have achievement far below their expected levels*
How Are These Disorders Identified?
-These disorders are identified in two ways, through formal and informal assessment.
Formal assessment includes the use of rating scales, which are completed by teachers, which assesses the student based on the federal definition. Intelligence tests are also given to find out what level the student is on.
Informal assessment is used to identify whether students have emotional and behavior disorders, including behavior checklists: interviews with professionals, parents, and students; observations; ability and achievement testing; and medical information.
Who is Eligible?
-In order to become eligible, a team must meet to address the following questions and the student must have them…
1. Does the student have one or more of the characteristics of ED? – in order to be eligible the student must have at least one of these characteristics
2. Do the student’s characteristics as assessed adversely affect educational performance? – the concern is whether the students behavior problem is limiting their education
3. Can lack of social skills be ruled out as the sole cause of the student’s behavior? – in some states, however, this question is not used.
How Do These Students Receive Their Education?
These students are educated in many different environments from general education settings, to part time special education, and even self contained classes.
Elementary School Services: many professionals do not want to give young children labels because they usually come with a negative stigma. However, many programs have been designed to help young children who are at risk in mainly preschools or other early childhood programs to encourage appropriate behavior.
Elementary and Secondary School Services: receive their education in all the service delivery options described in IDEA, more so than almost any group with disabilities. Placements for these students vary greatly with some spending almost their entire day in self contained classes and others in general settings for most of the day.
What problems could this produce?
Inclusive practices are used for students with emotional and behavior disorders with…
1. a change in the curriculum because it could ask too much of a child with this disorder and set them up for failure
2. teachers need to learn how to support students that commonly deal with social rejection
3. Students also need comprehensive services including strong mental health components in addition to academic supports.
Transition to Adulthood: the outcome for these students has been very disappointing.
- 21-64% of students with these disorders drop out of high school
- Some later earn their GED but those who don’t usually are at risk for poor adult outcomes; unemployment during the first five years after leaving high school ranges from 42- 70%
*this research is disappointing because improving the outcomes is so easy to do*
- serving these students through family centered approaches that coordinate school and community would help
- better access to mental health services for students is also needed
- as well as transition programs that provide life skills like on the job training
Recommended Education Practices for these Students
Prevention and collaboration are very important in teaching children with behavior and emotional disorders.
Prevention: consists of early intervention and implementing school wide positive behavior supports such as school wide PBS.
Collaboration: spanning both school and non-school agencies. Sometimes it is known as wraparound services. Most collaboration is based on system of care which is an approach based on a coordinated network of service providers and guided by core values and principles.
IDEA has a system of requirements for intervention…
1. Functional behavior assessment: problem solving strategy for analyzing the students behavior within the context of the setting in which it is occurring as a means of deciding how to address it.
2. A behavior intervention plan is then made which is a set of strategies designed to address the function of the behavior in order to change it
What Are the Perspectives of Parents and Families?
Impact of having a child with an emotional or behavior disorder
-Parents and family members of students with emotional and behavioral disorders face many challenges.
-The families are more likely to be of low income and by headed by a single parent with a less than average amount of education
-They often see a negative set of interactions regarding their children since teachers could become frustrated with them.
Build positive relationships; through parent education, support groups, and collaboration with the family as the focus.
*One of the more serious issues concerning these students is the lack of mental health services available and how necessary they are for creating a promising future*