There is much debate and confusion when defining emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD).
Until 1997 this category was identified as serious emotional disturbance (SED).
With the creation of IDEA in 1997 this category was changed to emotional disturbance (ED).
While the federal government still uses ED as there identifying category for this disability, most professionals refer to it as emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD).
The identifying names are not the only discrepancies between professionals who work with these children and the government. The federal government defines emotional disturbance as exhibiting characteristics that adversely affects educational performance over a long period of time. More than one characteristic must exist and in a certain degree. These characteristics include: difficulty learning without the present of other factors, unsatisfactory relationships with peers and teachers, inappropriate behaviors and feelings, development of physical symptoms when problems arise (Yell, Meadows, Drasgow, & Shriner, 2009).
While it is significant that this disorder is defined as a disability by the federal government, thus providing necessary services for these students, it is flawed. There lacks a specific criteria in the length of time and the degree of symptoms. The Mental Health and Special Education Association adapted a definition that is believed to be more functional when identifying students with EBD.
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They define emotional or behavioral disorders as: “exhibiting emotional or behavioral responses in school programs are so different from appropriate age, cultural, or ethnic norms that the response adversely affect educational performance” Mental Health and Special Education Coalition, 1990).
They note that this impacts academic, social, vocational or personal skills for more than a typical time period as a response to a stressful situation. The behaviors must be demonstrated across two settings, one being school and are not decreased by instruction in the general education classroom (Health and Special Education Coalition, 1990).
The definition includes the assertion that this disability can co-exist with others disabilities. The National School Boards Association rejected this definition when presented and continues to use their definition as the tool for classifying children in this disability category. They felt that the definition would significantly increase the number of students identified as having a disability under the ED category (Yell et al, 2009).
Controversy remains concerning the definition of ED, which could cause delays or lack of necessary intervention services for many students suffering from EBD.
A significant challenge in categorizing students within the EBD category is that they can co-exist with other disabilities. Students can be misclassified as a having another disability or strictly be thought to be deviant. This is due to the fact that many educators are unable to recognize the characteristics of students with EBD. Students with emotional or behavioral disturbances are cognitively in the average or above average range, but consistently perform below normal.
These academic deficits can be attributed to teachers not understanding this category of disability and not providing the necessary supports, behavioral strategies, effective instructional strategies or curriculum to meet their needs. Students with EBD may also have a language disorder. Often times when a child is unable to effectively communicate they will use inappropriate behaviors until they learn the necessary communication skills (Yell et al, 2009).
Students with EBD are frequently disciplined for school infractions.
The first course of action by many schools is to discipline students when they do not follow the rule. While this can be effective, the educator must determine the antecedent of the behavior in order for this to be an effective diversion from committing the same infraction. This can be challenging for a school if they have not had the proper training to perform a functional behavioral analysis. It can also be time consuming to collect the necessary data, but if we want to change undesired behaviors we must learn what the antecedent is and the consequence that may be reinforcing the behavior.
Are Children with Special Needs More Likely to Commit School Violence? 1. Denise (Smith) SkarbekDenise (Smith) Skarbek worked as a special education teacher for children with mild disabilities before becoming a professor in the department of special education at Indiana University at South Bend. Her interest in special education led her to research the relationship between children with special ...
If a student is trying to get out of attending school, then disciplining them with a suspension would only reinforce them to perform the same inappropriate behavior again. Another challenge for students with EBD is the ability to interact with peers and adults to create meaningful relationships. Teachers may be unaware that their own social interactions with their students impact their behavior as well. If a teacher focuses on a student’s inappropriate behaviors and only gives attention for those behaviors, the student will be more likely to continue the undesired behavior.
A good rule of thumb is to provide three positives for every negative. Another challenge for EBD is the lack of understanding concerning effective strategies to work with this student population. If educators are not in the special education department, they likely do not have much insight on this disability. Educators may view these students as defiant and not provide them with the necessary interventions to help them be successful. Academic interventions should include engaging curriculum with a hands on approach (Yell et al, 2009).
Behavioral interventions have proven successful when working with students with EBD. As mentioned previously, performing a functional behavioral analysis can help identify behaviors, their antecedents and consequence. Once this data is collected a positive behavior support plan can be implemented to help the student. Strategies need to be school wide and inside each classroom. Positive behaviors supports to prevent and intervene can help students decrease undesired behaviors and increase preferred behaviors.
There is a single place in this country I despise but for Heaven’s sake, I have to be there almost every day, the classroom. Eager to learn as I am, the sight of the classroom makes me green and sick to my stomach. I feel nothing but outrage, nausea, and irritating discomfort in the classroom. The reason for all of this madness and uneasiness is the improper and crude behavior of my fellow ...
These strategies must be implemented across all environments to be most effective. When making educational decisions for students with disabilities, no one person should make that decision. It requires the input and collaboration of the entire special education team to ensure that the student’s needs are being met, all factors have been considered, and that the needed strategies are appropriate and can be implemented across all environments. The special education team can consist of: a special educator, a general educator, a vice-principal, a parent, and a school psychologist.
Their roles may vary, but all have the same goal in mind, to provide the student with an appropriate education as defined by IDEA. The special educator provides information about how to educate the student. She will work with the student on a regular basis and provide input on the necessary accommodations based on the student’s needs. The special educator can also provide differentiation of curriculum/instruction and create appropriate IEP goals (NICHCY, 2010).
The general educator knows the content standards for his grade level and subject. He is able to identify where the student currently is and where they should be.
Based on that information he can provide the team with input on what the next progression should be to get the student to the next level of achievement. He can give insight on what supplementary aids and intervention services are necessary to help the student be successful in his classroom. The general educator will monitor the progress of the student’s IEP goal in his subject area. The vice-principal on the SPED team serves the role of the “representative of the public agency” responsible for the student’s education as identified under the IDEA (NICHCY, 2010).
The vice-principal will supervise to ensure that specially designed instruction is provided to the student. He also has the authority to commit to resources and ensure that the services described in the IEP will be provided to the student. The school psychologist can provide information on the instructional implications of the child’s evaluations. He has done assessments including, the BASC-II, the ABAS, and the DSM-III. Based on assessment results he will give feedback on appropriate instruction to meet the child’s needs (NICHCY, 2010).
Emotional and behavior disorders are not uncommon when dealing with children. Many children suffer from this disorder, unfortunately they are not always diagnosed correctly. Many think that the behavior is normal as children develop and grow. One would have to be very keen in the observation of the behavior of a child. There are many factors that contribute to this disorder. Biological, family, ...
An important member of the SPED team is the parent.
She has insight into the child that is not viewable in the educational setting. She can provide insight as to how the student responds to similar situations at home. parent can also help identify the strengths and weaknesses of her child. She can provide input on IEP goals as to what goals are most important to her and her child. The parent will share information on learning styles, interests, and provide an overview of past learning experiences. The diagnostic team is comprised of professionals who strategically place and provide necessary services for students.
When working with students with EBD, this can be a challenge. Thus far the team has concerns with identifying students with EBD, as the federal definition does not provide specifics, as two what length of time a behavior must occur to be considered EBD. Also, the team is concerned that the criteria is not specific enough in how many setting the child should exhibit the behaviors and to what degree. With the lack of information identified under the IDEA 2004 it makes it extremely difficult to identify these students.
Several students thought to be EBD, also have other disabilities and the team is not sure if that is the underlying cause for the behaviors. The team wonders if a student falling in the Autism category can also be categorized as EBD. With so much uncertainty the SPED team relies heavily on outside resources, such as developmental and behavioral pediatricians for the diagnosis of EBD. As a team they will make a recommendation, after administering the ABAS and DSM-III if the student is suspected of an EBD diagnosis.
Once we know that a child has been identified as EBD, necessary interventions can be placed. The challenges revolve around funding and lack of training. Most general education teachers do not know how to work with this population. Our school is an inclusive school for students with disabilities, including EBD. All students are educated based on academic level, not by disability. The special educator must provide “on the job” training for general education teachers, while having to provide services for the student as well.
I have to admit, researching this topic was a little interesting and difficult. A lot of the information only dealt with children who have certain medical conditions such as ADHD, ADD as well as other medical conditions that may need to be modified, especially in a classroom setting. As a Site Coordinator of after school programs for children in grades k-12, modifying behavior was an everyday ...
This can be a daunting task for the special educator, especially if the general educator doesn’t follow the procedures. A school wide positive behavior support system needs to be implemented and training for all staff needs to be provided. These two things are not implemented as the district has stated that lack of funding is an obstacle for these necessary tools. These issues could be resolved by providing teachers with training on how perform functional behavioral analysis and how to work with students with EBD in general.
Teaching educators how to reinforce desired behaviors and not focus on the inappropriate behavior is a simple strategy to increase preferred behaviors. Also, by creating a positive behavior supports school wide and using the tier system we can provide consistent interventions throughout the school. Having a concise definition of emotional disturbances, under IDEA would be helpful in identifying students and providing necessary services. The definition must include a specific duration of time when the behavior falls under a characteristic of EBD.
Also, a definitive criterion should be included to help determine the degree of characteristic that facilitates a diagnosis of EBD. The definition also fails to include that a child with EBD may also have another disability or syndrome. This information should be included, so that if a child has a diagnosis of ADHD they are not overlooked if they are exhibiting symptoms of EBD. The newness of this disability contributes to the ambiguity of the definition. The government must be open to changes in our educational laws, as the realm of disabilities is constantly changing.