Excerpt from The Inclusive Classroom: Strategies for Effective Instruction, by M.A. Mastropieri, T.E. Scruggs, 2007 edition, p. 64-69.
© ______ 2007, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
Prevalence and Definitions
Individuals classified as having emotional disturbance (or behavioral disorders) represent 8.1% of all students ages 6–21 served under IDEA, or .72% of the school population (U.S. Department of Education, ...view middle of the document...
Individuals characterized as socially maladjusted (e.g., juvenile delinquency) are not considered emotionally disturbed according to IDEA, unless they also exhibit other evidence of emotional disturbance (U.S. Department of Education, 2002a). Students with Tourette syndrome may receive services under Other Health Impairments.
Causes of Emotional Disturbance
Most behavioral disorders or emotional disturbances have no known cause. However, possible causes include biological, family, school, and cultural factors (e.g., Hallahan & Kauffman, 2003; Kauffman, 2005).
Biological factors are genetic, biochemical, and neurological influences that interact and result in emotional disabilities. Schizophrenia, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Tourette syndrome—a tic disorder characterized by involuntary muscular movements, vocalizations, and/or inappropriate verbal outbursts—all appear to have biological bases that interact with other factors and may contribute to emotional disturbances. However, Tourette syndrome and ADHD are not necessarily associated with emotional disturbance. Family factors (such as domestic violence) are also considered to be strong contributing factors to emotional disturbance. School factors (such as failure to accommodate for individual needs, inappropriate expectations, or inconsistency) can also contribute to an emotional disability. Finally, certain cultural environmental factors (including peer group, urbanization, and neighborhood factors) interact with the individual, the home, and the school and may also contribute to emotional disabilities (Kauffman, 2005).
Issues in Identification and Assessment of Emotional Disturbance
Individuals with emotional disabilities are difficult to objectively identify and classify. Moreover, there appears to be a reluctance on the part of school personnel to label a child “emotionally disturbed” (Kauffman, 2005). Traditional measures to identify emotional or behavioral disabilities include teacher checklists; parental checklists; classroom behavioral observations; and tests of intelligence, achievement, and psychological status. Checklists are listings of frequently observed behaviors. Teachers and parents complete checklists by indicating the types and severity of problem behaviors. Direct observations are conducted during classes, on the playground, at lunch, and in other parts of the school.
Characteristics of Emotional Disturbance
As with most students with disabilities, not all individuals with emotional disturbance will exhibit all the characteristics described here.
Most students with emotional disturbance have problems with their social behavior, often manifested as less mature or inappropriate social skills (Kauffman, 2005). Some students may be particularly aggressive with peers and adults and cause harm when playing or interacting with others. These students act out in class, do not appear to respond appropriately to...