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What is Behaviour ?

A learning disorder characterized by specific behaviour problems over such a period of time, and to such a marked degree, and of such a nature, as to adversely affect educational performance, and that may by accompanied by one or more of the following:

1) an inability to build or to maintain interpersonal relationships2) excessive fears or anxieties3) a tendency to compulsive reaction4) an inability to learn that cannot be traced to intellectual, sensory, or other health factors


Behavioural Disorders, Emotionally/Behaviourally Disturbed or Behavioural ExceptionalitiesWhat Should It Be Called?In the USA in 1975- ‘seriously emotionally disturbed’In 1997 it was changed- ‘emotionally disturbed’In Canada, the terminology varies by province.In Ontario, the term ‘behavioural exceptionality’ is used.


Continue…Social and cultural conditions influence our understanding of ‘normal behaviour’ and ‘behavioural exceptionalities’. Even in a single school, wide differences can exist. The same behaviour may be seen as disruptive by one teacher, and normal by another.To create a common ground of understanding, Mental Health professionals tried to organize behaviour exceptionalities by classification, but consensus is limited. Teachers have a more common understanding.

misconceptions about emotional behavioural disorders explained
Misconceptions About Emotional/Behavioural DisordersEXPLAINED
  • It is too difficult to confirm whether or not youth violence has increased.
  • Services for students with emotional/behavioural disorders vary across the province.
  • Developments in mental health science have not made it easier for educators to identify and classify behavioural disorders. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies disorders as present or absent. Emotional/behavioural problems are more subtle to classroom teachers.
  • Bullying is not just something students must deal with while growing up. It can have long-term consequences for both the bully and the victim. Students with behavioural difficulties (especially ADHD) are more likely to be involved with bullying, either as the ‘bully’ or the ‘bullied.’
  • Most studies show identified cases where males outnumber females by ratios of up to

5 to 1. Recently there have been increases in girls over boys, both in identified behaviour and in crime.

misconceptions about emotional behavioural disorders continue
Misconceptions About Emotional/Behavioural Disorderscontinue…
  • Behavioural disorders can be expressed through withdrawal, not just through aggression or frustration.
  • Available data suggests a correlation between behavioural disorders and average to low IQ scores. A behavioural disorder does not often indicate a student who is bright but frustrated.
  • Inappropriate behaviour is not always an external manifestation of something deeply rooted. In fact, it is most likely to be spontaneous and temporary.
  • Highly structured, ordered, predictable environments bring about the greatest change in students with behavioural disorders.
  • To deal effectively with a behavioural issue, it is important to consider motivation. This way, consequences, rewards, and the teaching of new behaviour can be aligned with the needs of the individual student.
causes of behavioural exceptionalities
Causes of Behavioural Exceptionalities


  • Possible link between biological make-up and behaviour
  • Biological processes have a pervasive influence on behaviour; they affect behaviour only in interaction with environmental factors


  • Allergenic reactions can generate learning and behavioural problems
  • Students’ intolerance to a combination of stale air, chalk dust, moulds and fungi

Speech and Language

  • Higher incidence of behavioural exceptionalities among student with speech and language impairment
  • Students often act out due to their inability to express their needs.


  • Home and school are the most powerful influences on a student’s behaviour
  • Students often act out when discipline are inconsistent
longstanding issues
Longstanding issues
  • An acceptable term
  • Developing a useful definition
  • Are needs being met?
  • School standards are too high
  • Socioeconomics and class distractions
  • Stigma of being identified
  • Legal requirements
  • The use of drugs
longstanding issues1
Longstanding issues
  • An acceptable term
    • Socially maladjusted, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, predelinquent, emotionally handicapped, socially handicapped,
    • In education: behaviour disorder, behaviour exceptionality (Ontario)
    • “Behaviour exceptionality” inclusive, less negative, and warrants professional attention

(label based on who was writing on the subject)

  • Developing a useful definition
    • What is reasonable/normal behaviour? Frequency and degree.
    • Would a more accurate definition assist in identifying students with this exceptionality and help with effective intervention?
    • Hard to identify as there are no real set of symptoms.
  • Are needs being met?
    • Prevalence across Canada varies (uneven rates)
    • Ontario’s rate has decreased to 1%
    • The exceptionality is getting less attention than in the past, and students are being underserved.
longstanding issues2
Longstanding issues
  • School standards are too high

- Unrealistic and unnatural standards for acceptable behaviour

- Behaviour is a result of how a student is treated

  • Socioeconomics and class distractions

- Adolescents, and students from lower income families report a greater number and a

variety penalties for their behaviour. Students from high income response to the same

situation are seen as acceptable responses.

  • Stigma of being identified

- An students that is identified changes the opinion of the teachers, peers.

- Hard to escape history less students being identified students not receiving the appropriate support.

longstanding issues3
Longstanding issues
  • Legal requirements

- Student involved in a crime – educational disruption –moved through custody settings, and schools (varied educational approaches).

- Being moved around does not allow for continuity and make the situation worse for the student.

- Canadian law does not allow the teacher rights to the knowledge of student’s involvement of a crime, although is could be important information for the well-being of the teacher and other students.

  • The use of drugs

- Drugs to manage behaviour – moral and ethical values violated by chemically altering a person’s natural function.

Thought - Drug therapy puts the responsibility of teachers and parent on chemicals.

Thought- drug therapy will lead to drug abuse later in life – no evidence

Drug Therapy can have psychological effects (self esteem)

Positive outcome--- decrease impulsivity and improve concentration

More drug therapy, less drugless therapy

Ritalin prescription increase 460% from 1991 to 1997

conceptual models and their educational implications1
Conceptual Models and their Educational Implications
  • Mental health professional have a narrow and particular school of thought/approach for treatment of students with behavioural exceptionalities.
  • In the classroom, one singular view is not common.
conceptual models and their educational i mplications
Conceptual Models and their Educational Implications
  • Psychodynamic Approach
  • Biophysical Approach
  • Environmental Approach
  • Behavioural Modification Approach
  • Drug Therapy Approach
  • The classroom reality: Flexible Common Sense
conceptual models and their educational implications2
Conceptual Models and their Educational Implications
  • Psychodynamic Approach

- Behavioural disorder within the individual.

- Teacher is part of a mental health team

- Develop warm supportive atmosphere in which the student may overcome his inner turmoil

- Acceptance and toleration, at the expense of direct instruction and acquisition of academic skills

- A.K.A. Psychoeducational approach- practical classroom outcomes

-Decline in the use of this approach – does not improve academic achievement and limited evidence that it helps behaviour.

conceptual models and their educational implications3
Conceptual Models and their Educational Implications
  • Biophysical Approach
  • Direct relationship between behaviour and things like physical defects, illnesses, diet, and allergies.
  • Responsive therapy - megavitamin therapy, diet control, symptom control medication, removal of offending substances (e.g. carpets)
  • In classroom this is combines with behaviour style approach (routine, scheduling, frequent repetition of tasks presented in sequence, & eliminating environmental that is unnecessary stimuli.
  • Studies are unable to identify which of the two treatments (teaching or therapy) is responsible for the impact.
conceptual models and their educational implications4
Conceptual Models and their Educational Implications
  • Environmental Approach

- Students are a product of their environment (family, school, neighbourhood, and community)

- Teachers are expected to instruct the student in social and interpersonal environment skills.

- School also attempts to modify the school environment to meet the needs of the student.

  • Goal to create in all parts of the environment, an awareness of the reciprocal relationships and monitoring these relationships to benefit the student with the behavioural exceptionality.
conceptual models and their educational implications5
Conceptual Models and their Educational Implications
  • Behaviour Modification Approach
  • Dominant intervention style in education.
  • Assumption- all behaviour is modifiable by using reinforcement.
  • Believe that behaviour is controlled by the impact of stimuli
  • Possible to

1) create behaviours that currently do not exist

2) maintain behaviours that are established

3) eliminate inappropriate behaviours

  • Reinforcers

concrete e.g. food, toys

absteract e.g. checks, stars, coupons that can be traded for something. (token


- Reinforcerspaired with social reinforcer (praise, smile) so the token reinforcer can be phased out.

conceptual models and their educational implications6
Conceptual Models and their Educational Implications
  • Drug Therapy Approach
  • Psychotrophic drugs (pills) to help control behaviour
  • Evidence that it does control behaviour and has a positive/improved outcome for student and others.
  • If drug therapy is introduced for the first time, the side effects must be monitored (modify to optimal dose)
  • It is possible to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity with out chemicals.
  • Medication along with appropriate behavioural and academic interventions can help social , academic performance.
conceptual models and their educational implications7
Conceptual Models and their Educational Implications
  • The Classroom Reality: Flexible Common Sense
  • Teachers combine a variety of approaches and apply them on individual basis.
  • Teachers value a warm supportive atmosphere for all their students.
  • Teachers are aware of the environmental impact on student learning and social development
  • Doing what is effective at the time and what makes sense at the time.
  • Teachers need to establish a baseline for a student (frequency, intensity, and duration of a particular behaviour) to tell if the intervention is effective or not.
what are the symptoms of ad hd
What are the symptoms of AD/HD?

AD/HD or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is diagnosed by medical practitioners by looking at 3 symptoms.

1. The inability to sustain attention at age-appropriate level.

2. Impulsivity which the student does things without considering consequences, and often repeats the behaviour.

3. Hyperactivity which the student engages in non-purposeful movement and activity that is usually not age appropriate, and often at an accelerated level.

are ad hd symptoms the result of other factors
Are AD/HD symptoms the result of other factors?
  • Disruptive or unresponsive behaviour may be the result of anxiety or depression.
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome sometimes produces hyperactive behaviour.
  • Chronic inner ear infections, hearing loss, or undetected hearing problem might leave the student uncooperative.

However, professional educators see the same symptoms every day in students who are not identified as AD/HD.

what causes ad hd
What causes AD/HD?
  • Advocates argue that AD/HD has been around for a long time under other titles like “hyperkinesis” and “minimal brain dysfunction”, and “moral deficit”.
  • It is said that what makes AD/HD real is a biological or psychological basis, or both.
  • Advocates also argue that there are some individuals who, through no fault of their own, cannot use their human will and self control to manage themselves from within, and that the pace of modern life aggravates this lack of a central control mechanism.
  • It is seen as a neurologically-based medical condition.
what causes ad hd1
What causes AD/HD?
  • Specific genes such as dopamine transporter gene on chromosome 5 and dopamine receptor D4 gene on chromosome 11 have appeared to be related to AD/HD.
  • Dopamine deficiency may be the cause of AD/HD but it is unclear as to whether individuals with AD/HD do not produce enough of it or are unable to properly use what they do produce.
  • Other chemical deficiencies that may be associated with AD/HD are noradrenaline and serotonin.
  • Noradrenaline is a substance that may act on the brain during times of stress and serotonin is a chemical that helps the brains ability to detect and/or possibly regulate other chemicals.
just a confusion with other special needs
Just a confusion with other special needs?
  • AD/HD has long been associated with learning disabilities because of the inattentiveness factor.
  • Studies suggests that about one-third of students with learning disabilities may have some degree of attention disorder.
  • The rate of learning disabilities is high in students who are diagnosed with AD/HD because lack of attention and off-task behaviour are detrimental to mastering basic skills.
  • However, one special need does not imply the other.
another modern day phenomenon
Another “Modern Day” phenomenon?
  • AD/HD did not capture the public eye until the late 20th century.
  • A German doctor. Heinrich Hoffman, first described hyperactivity in 1845.
  • In 1902, George Still, a British physician described hyperactivity that is somehow associated with evil.
  • He described “sick” children of average or higher intelligence who had an “abnormal deficit of moral control.”
  • In 1968, AD/HD was clinically classified.
  • When matched against other, more recent types of special need, there continues to be intense disagreement other whether it should be seen as a distinct clinical entity, or even whether it really exists.
  • Critics say that AD/HD has become a label in North America resulting in the increasing rate of diagnosis.
  • In 1997, the Globe and Mail reported that an estimated half million Canadians, mostly students, had been diagnosed.
what does having students with ad hd mean to the classroom
What does having students with AD/HD mean to the classroom?
  • Teachers can expect a high level of physical activity, inappropriate responses, low frustration tolerance when AD/HD is present in the classroom.
  • The student’s lack of restraint and acting out will invariably draw in the student’s peers, or distract them, or cause conflict, or interrupt their work.
  • There is no sure remedy in the classroom and no universal accepted way to deal with AD/HD in school.
  • Isolating the student with AD/HD may be beneficial for the student’s peers, but it is not a solution for the student who has AD/HD.
  • The most effective management technique usually turn out to be those that the teacher and educational assistant work out creatively, often with the parent’s help, and these techniques, most of the time are unique for that particular student.
  • Research has found that the most effective treatment is a combination of medication, effective behaviour modification practices, and if possible individual and family counseling.
  • Teachers do find through experience that flexibility and setting modest goals are essential in successful management.
childhood depression
Childhood Depression


  • quiet, withdrawn students are often overlooked.
  • regularly appear sad
  • show limited academic gain
  • may not sleep well
  • feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness


  • Educators must refer the student for more intensive mental health evaluation.
  • Treatment usually involves psychotherapy and medication
  • Teachers can help student develop social skills, and encourage an increase in activity level.
reactive attachment disorder rad
Reactive Attachment Disorder(RAD)
  • Believed to be a result of a failure to bond with other humans very early in life.
  • Lack of nurture and attention.
  • Protective shell against what they feel is an unsafe world. They believe no adults can be trusted to take care of them.
  • Symptoms: rage, destructiveness, frequent lying, cheating, stealing, obsessive, manipulative, unaware/unconcerned with consequences, limited empathy.
  • Confused with; bipolar disorder, ADHD, tourette syndrome, learning disability. (RAD poorly undersood)
  • No suggestion for treatment and for the classroom
conduct disorder
Conduct Disorder


  • This disorder applies to children who may have great difficulty following rules, throw temper tantrums, destroy property, bully, or regularly act in deceitful ways.


  • Often involves behaviour therapy and psychotherapy, and extends over a long period of time.
  • The earlier the child is identified, the better likelihood for a positive outcome and a more productive adult life.
oppositional defiant disorder odd
Oppositional Defiant Disorder(ODD)
  • Similar to conduct disorder but less severe
  • Symptoms: persistently oppositional, negative, and/or hostile to authority.
  • Must be present 6+ months and accompanied by temper tantrums, aggressiveness towards peers, and annoying others.
  • Treatment: training for parents and teachers to respond effectively to the student. Time-outs, avoid power struggles, and remain calm.
groups discussion case study
Groups Discussion: Case Study
  • The case of Scott. Pg. 114
  • The case of Suzette Pg. 119
  • The case of Logan Pg. 122
  • The case of Hannah Pg. 125

Summarize the case.

What approaches/strategies would you use if you were the classroom teacher?

Present in 10 minutes.

notes and suggestions
Notes and Suggestions
  • The Case of Scott
  • Go to the first school so they will accommodate Scott
  • The Case of Suzette
  • Bring the idea of maps-student is involved in planning their own learning, setting goals
The Case of Logan
  • He would benefit from going to family counselling
  • The Case of Hannah
  • Ask mother what strategies she uses at home
  • Diet/nutrition
  • Positive reinforcement
strategies for students with behavioural exceptionalities
Strategies for Students with Behavioural Exceptionalities
  • Manage the environment, reducing distractions
  • Instruction should be simple and concise
  • Organize the day
  • Enforce classroom routines and procedures consistently.
  • Develop sense of personal responsibility
  • Note improvements
strategies for effective classroom management
Strategies for Effective Classroom Management

A teacher who is effective with ‘regular’ students is usually more effective with ‘behavioural’ students.

  • Effective attitude includes patience, flexibility, creativity, humour, and respect
  • Recognize where students are ‘at’ and do not let their history shape your expectations. Help students by being an adult mentor.
  • Realize the importance of personal conduct. Adults are role models.
  • Establish a realistic, consistent, and predictable learning environment. Structure, organization, and sequence are important. 
  • Catch a student doing something good. Discreet positive praise that is proportionate to the accomplishment.
  • Treat democracy as a fine line.
  • Establishing momentum is more important than motivating. Get kids rolling on their own.
  • Keeping academics front and centre.
  • Working hard is better than sitting around.
  • Establish and maintain consistent routines for entering the classroom
  • Sets up and insists on specific seating arrangements
  • Highly visible.
  • Uses ‘antiseptic bouncing’. When a student is worked up or aggressive, give him/her an errand to run outside of the class, or another activity that would let off steam.
  • Use merits, not just demerits
  • Uses proximity control.
  • Is not sarcastic, and always avoids yelling.
  • Never uses corrosive discipline techniques (writing out lines, detention, or using curriculum content as a punishment)
  • Avoids confronting students with behavioural exceptionalities in front of peers.
  • Informs students of high expectations (occasionally manipulates components of a task to ensure a positive outcome for students needing a boost)
  • Sets short term goals for students who cannot yet defer gratification
  • Uses reward systems. The time spent in school should produce something of consequence.


1.Teachers’ Gateway to Special Education

2. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

3. Canadian Attention Deficit Disorder Research

4. Children and Adults with Attention Deficit

5. Focus Adolescent Services


Caring and Safe Schools in Ontario Behaviour Management Management Site Behaviour Intervention & Supports