Emotional or Behavioral Disorders. Definitions and Characteristics. Important Terms. Emotionally disturbed --term now used in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1997)
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Emotional or Behavioral Disorders Definitions and Characteristics
Important Terms • Emotionally disturbed--term now used in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1997) • Behaviorally Disordered--term used by Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, focuses attention on observable aspects of the children
Definitional Problems • Lack of precise definitions of mental health and normal behavior • Differences among conceptual models • Difficulties in measuring emotions and behavior • Relationships between emotional or behavioral disorder and other disabilities • Differences in the professionals who diagnose and serve children and youths
Insert picture H&K p. 285 • Emotional disturbance (IDEA) • The term means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which adversely affects education performance: • an inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors • an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers
Insert picture H&K p. 266 • inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances • a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression or • a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. • The term includes children who are schizophrenic. The term does not include children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they are seriously emotionally disturbed.
Prevalence and Causes • Prevalence • Government estimates • Problems with estimates • Causes • Biological disorders and diseases • Pathological family relationships • Undesirable experiences at school • Negative cultural influences
Severe Behavior Handicapped Five Characteristics One or more of these five characteristics must be exhibited by the child. 1 2 3 4 5
Severe Behavior Handicapped An inability to learn, which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors or
An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers or I hate the world!
Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances or
A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression or
A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems
Three Qualifiers All three of these qualifiers must exist for any of the five characteristics which are exhibited. Over a long period of time To a marked degree Adversely affects educational performance
Transitory Situations The time qualifier precludes situational problems which may be understandable or expected given the nature of particular circumstances. A death in the family, divorce, abuse, new school, family financial crisis, or physical illness of the student or a relative would be situational, and the resulting behavior changes are often transitory. An ED evaluation and placement would be inappropriate if based on situational behavior changes even though the other aspects of the definition apply.
Nontransitory Situations If change is significant, documentation should demonstrate the history of the transition in behavior and its effect on the individual. Any circumstances, however, may lead to behavioral changes which are not transitory and do not return to the state which existed prior to the precipitating event. Providing other aspects of the definition apply appropriately, the student might then be eligible for ED placement.
Chronological Age “Long period of time” must also be considered in relation to the chronological age of the student. Less than a year for a very young child might be considered a long period of time, while that same amount of time for a teenager might be insufficient.
In determining “marked degree,” the following key questions should be answered: • Is the behavior in question considered significant by more than one observer? • What are the rate, frequency, intensity, and duration of occurrence? • In which settings does the behavior occur? • Are there noticeable or predictable patterns to the behavior? • How is the behavior affecting others? • Is the behavior identified as a concern by norm-referenced behavior measures?
Test Data Evaluative information from psychological tests may help to substantiate “marked degree,” but should not be used as the primary source of information. For example, an observable event (providing adverse affect on education has been determined), such as a suicide threat or gesture, should be evaluated by a psychologist using appropriate instruments, interviews, and observations. On the other hand, results from personality measures, which are not substantiated by any observable events, should be regarded with extreme caution.
Causal Relationships The definition of ED requires that determination of eligibility for placement be based on evidence that the student’s educational performance is adversely affected. There must be a demonstrable, causal relationship between the student’s behavior and decreased educational performance.
To determine whether educational performance is adversely affected, the following key questions should be considered: • Is the student’s educational performance within a reasonable range of chronological age and ability level? • If the student is performing below reasonable academic expectations, does the search for the cause of this performance point strongly to emotional or behavioral problems? 1. 2.
3. • Do the student’s emotional or behavioral problems appear to be affecting educational performance to a greater degree than similar problems are affecting the performance of peers? • To what extent is the student receiving passing grades? Has there been regular growth in academic achievement? Has the student been held back any grade levels? • Is the student absent frequently? If yes, how have grades been affected? 4. 5.
Academic achievement must be documented, but other aspects of education may be considered. A significant degree of subjectivity will be used in this area, but two guiding principles might be: 1. Observable evidence indicates that the student has impaired performance across the educational setting. 2. Documentation shows clearly that the academic portion of the student’s education is adversely affected.
Assessment • Observations • Checklists • Reports • Interviews Insert picture H&K p. 280
Behavioral Indications of Potential Problems • Indications of low self-concept • Disturbed relations with peers • Inappropriate relationships to teachers, parents, and other authority figures • Other signs of social-emotional problems • Deficits in speech and language • Disordered temporal relationships • Difficulties in auditory and visual perception • Poor quantitative reasoning and computational skill • Deficits in basic motor skills
Indicators of Social Disabilities • Poor social perception • Lack of judgment • Lack of sensitivity to others • Difficulty making friends • Problems establishing family relationships • Social problems in school • Social disabilities of adolescents and adults
TEACHER CONTROLLED SCHOOL CONTROLLED Atmosphere Structure Student Behavior Learning Centers Movement Atmosphere Structure Student Behavior Other Faculty And Staff Environment instruction
Hyperactivity • Hyperactivity is not defined simply by a high rate of activity; it is a high rate of inappropriate behavior of various kinds that the youngster cannot control at will.
Hyperactivity • Closely related to hyperactivity are distractibility (attention problems) and impulsivity (acting without thinking). We see many of the hyperactive child’s characteristics in normally developing young children, whereas the hyperactive child exhibits developmentally deviant behavior.
Hyperactivity • Brain damage is the favorite causal explanation for hyperactivity, but there is little evidence to confirm brain injury as the cause in most cases. Hyperactivity may be genetically organized in many cases, but no one knows how this genetic factor works. There is little evidence for any other possible biological cause, such as allergies, toxins, or deficits in neurochemicals. Social learning is a plausible causal factor, but does not explain most cases fully. Because we understand so little about the causes of hyperactivity, secondary prevention is the only feasible approach.
Hyperactivity • Assessment of hyperactivity requires obtaining multiple perspectives on the youngster’s behavior and its contexts. Rating scales are useful for screening and initial evaluation, but assessment for educational programming and evaluation of progress demands direct observation. Adequate assessment of attention calls for measuring the student’s attention in relation to specific tasks in specific contexts. One might assess impulsivity by adapting laboratory instruments and by direct observation.
Causal Factors • Biological Factors • Family Factors • School Factors • Cultural Factors
Biological Factors • Genetics • Brain Damage • Brain Dysfunction • Malnutrition • Temperament • Physical Illness
Biological Factors Genetics • Genetic factors have been suggested as the causes of nearly every type of disorder. Genetics are known to be involved in causing schizophrenia, but little is known about how the gene system that causes the disorder works. The fact that a disorder has a genetic cause does not mean that the disorder is untreatable.
Biological Factors Brain Damage & Dysfunction • Brain damage or dysfunction has been suggested as a cause of nearly every type of emotional or behavioral disorder. Traumatic brain injury involves known damage to the brain and may cause a wide variety of emotional and behavioral problems. Autism is now recognized as a biological disorder, although neither the exact nature nor the reason for the brain dysfunction are known.
Family Factors • Parental behavior is significant in affecting children’s school performance and conduct • Parental discipline is a significant factor in behavioral development • Discipline that is authoritative—characterized by high levels of responsiveness and demandingness • Usually produces the best outcomes
Family Factors • Conflict and Coercion, are known family factors that increase a youngster’s risk for developing an emotional or behavioral disorder. • Family structure, by itself, appears to contribute relatively little to children’s emotional and behavioral problems. Divorce does not usually produce chronic disorders in children. Children in single parent homes may be at risk, but we do not know precisely why.
School Factors • In our society school failure is tantamount to personal failure. The school environment is not only critically important for social development but is also the factor over which educators have direct control.