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Biological Factors. Important Questions Why are biological factors important? Under which conditions is a person most likely to develop schizophrenia? What is the relationship between brain damage and emotional or behavioral disorders? How can temperament affect student-teacher interaction?

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Biological Factors

Important Questions

Why are biological factors important?

Under which conditions is a person most likely to develop schizophrenia?

What is the relationship between brain damage and emotional or behavioral disorders?

How can temperament affect student-teacher interaction?

What are the educational implications of biological factors?

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The Appeal of Biological Factors as a Causal Explanation

  • Knowledge of biological factors has its implications in prevention and medical treatment.

  • However, biological factors affect behavior only in interaction with environmental factors.

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  • Genetics influences both desirable and undesirable behavior.

  • Examples of behaviors with strong genetic components:

    • criminality, attention deficits, hyperactivity, schizophrenia, depression, Tourette’s disorder, autism, and anxiety.

  • Behavioral characteristics are determined by both genetic and environmental factors (i.e., social learning).

    • In the case of schizophrenia:

      • The closer the relationship between the child and the schizophrenic relative, the higher the risk for developing this condition.

      • However, once one has a schizophrenic relative, the risk for schizophrenia is determined by stressful environment or drug use.

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  • Disorders arising from genetic factors may be curable.

  • Implication for genetic factors:

    • Genetic factors influence many emotional or behavioral disorders;

    • However, the role that genetics plays is still unclear.

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Brain Damage Dysfunction

  • The brain can be traumatized before, during, or after birth.

    • Prolonged high fever, infectious diseases, hypoxia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and structural anomalies resulting from diseases or drugs are all potential causes of brain damage.

  • Brain damage can cause:

    • Learning disabilities, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and juvenile delinquency, as well as other disabilities.

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Brain Damage Dysfunction

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):

    • Injury to the brain caused by external force.

    • Not a result of a congenital condition.

    • Involves a diminished or altered state of consciousness.

    • Neurological or neuro-behavioral dysfunction results from the injury.

  • The effects of TBI depend on:

    • Which parts of the brain are damaged,

    • The severity of the damage,

    • The age of the individual when the damage occurs, and

    • The medical, psychological and educational treatment that is received.

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Brain Damage Dysfunction

Possible effects of TBI:

  • Inappropriate manners

  • Easily tired, frustrated, and/or angered

  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Failure to understand humor and social situations

  • Anxiety

  • Sudden and swings of exaggerated mood

  • Perseveration

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Autistic Spectrum Disorder

  • Disorder caused by brain dysfunction.

  • Nature of the biochemical irregularity is unknown.

  • Major feature is qualitative impairment in social interaction.

  • The spectrum of autistic disorders includes:

    • Asperger Syndrome

    • Rett’s Disorder

    • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

    • Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

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Malnutrition, Allergies, and Other Health-Related Issues

  • The result of malnutrition, in the long run, is retardation of brain growth, irreversible brain damage, mental retardation. Apathy, social withdrawal, and school failure are expected.

  • Hypoglycemia, mineral deficiencies, and allergies can influence behavior.

  • There is little evidence to suggest that nutrition and allergies cause emotional or behavior disorders.

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  • Individuals tend to have predictable reactions to different circumstances.

  • Temperament explains many of these reactions.

  • Temperament is determined by biological and environmental factors.

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  • Nine categories of temperamental characteristics (Thomas, Chess, & Birch, 1968).

    • Activity level

    • Rhythmicity

    • Approach or withdrawal

    • Adaptability

    • Intensity of reaction

    • Threshold of responsiveness

    • Quality of mood

    • Distractibility

    • Attention span and persistence

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Implications for Educators

  • Educators must understand the role of genetics and environmental factors in forming the child’s misbehavior.

  • Medicine can play a significant role in the treatment of the disorder; however, treatment should be monitored using direct observations of the student.