The Characteristics of the Emotionally Disabled and Behavior Challenged Student
If you have heard the term or if you have a child that is emotionally disabled, then you might want to know what determines that label for the child. The definition of emotional disturbance is grey/fuzzy, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act deem it for a child to be labeled with an emotional disability as one having one or more of the characteristics that follow. The first is the inability to learn that cannot be explained by sensory, health, or intellectual factors. The next characteristic comes into view when the child shows that they cannot build interpersonal relationships with his teachers or peers. The third sign that a child is emotionally disabled is that child will show inappropriate behavior in normal circumstances. Other signs are the child will show signs of depression or a frequent mood of unhappiness. The child may even develop physical fears or symptoms with their school or personal problems.
The term ‘emotionally disabled’ does not apply to all children who have social problems, but does so if they meet one or several of the above criteria. The population of students in the United States that have an emotionally-disabled label is around one percent and even though the percentage is low, most mainstream teachers will have some encounter with a child that fits into this category even if they are not identified officially. These children will have severe academic or social frustration and will often become discipline problems for not only the classroom but the school community as a whole.
These unidentified students are those who have low self-esteem or they will have mild to severe defiance issues toward authority figures. They will lack social interaction skills and the will have trouble bringing themselves under control. They can be aggressive and even violent to other children, their teachers, and even their parents.
There are two trains of thought when it comes to the education of the emotionally disabled. Some teachers believe the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) is in the mainstream classroom, while others believe the LRE should be in an environment that gives the correct amount of structure for that individual child. No matter where the child is placed, the right strategy for that individual child can help in the right kind of environment. Research has shown that these types of children do best in a classroom that is predictable, stable, and structured. These children need help in self-control and through coaching, modeling, and teaching, emotionally disabled students can be educated.