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Emotional And Behavioral Disorders In Children Essay, Research Paper

Coping with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

When defining students with emotional or behavioral disorders one may encounter difficulties because it is such a broad topic. There are many divisions and subdivisions of this issue. Children are presented with many different disorders and tribulations, however when these disorders are detected early and with immediate attention, their situation may be remedied.

A child afflicted with emotional or behavioral disorders may exhibit signs of poor self confidence. This may lead to, but not necessarily related to, social withdrawal, task avoidance, frustration or anxiety. About three to five percent of students have some kind of emotional or behavioral disorder, however only about one percent are identified as having a disorder.

?The IDEA defines emotional disturbance as exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which adversely affects educational performance.? (Salend 52). The child may exhibit an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. This will rule out any physical or intellectual disorders. The child may also demonstrate an inability to build or maintain good relationships with peers and teachers. Another sign of this disorder is that the child will display inappropriate behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances. This means that an affected child will act out at inappropriate times when the, so called, normal children are on task and under control. A child with an emotional or behavioral disorder may also demonstrate a general penetrating mood of unhappiness or depression. This may be more difficult to detect, but it is a very important characteristic of the disorder. Finally, the child may have a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. This disorder is so powerful that it can surpass the mental state of the child and affect the physical status.

There are many kinds of emotional or behavioral disorders. One of the most prevalent disorders is depression. Depression and suicide affect many children and is manifested in many different ways. About twenty-five percent of adolescents consider committing suicide. Many of these attempts are becoming more successful because of the availability of guns. With depressed students, there are many warning signs which should not be ignored. The depressed child exhibits overwhelming sadness, apathy, and hopelessness. There is a decrease in interest and enjoyment in everyday pleasurable activities. The depressed child may also show a change in appetite, weight, sleep pattern, or energy level. A teacher must be aware of these changes and be alert and prepared to take action. A depressed child has difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decision. They often exhibit anger, rage, and overreaction to criticism. Finally, a child afflicted with depression will show a dramatic change in school performance characterized by a drop in grades and an increase in inappropriate behaviors. When identifying depressed children, the warning signs are illustrated in the above stated, but are not limited to these signs.

A teacher must be aware of these symptoms and be prepared to take action. This may entail collaboration with psychologists, parents, co-workers, or mental health professionals. Diagnosis is fairly difficult to make alone as a teacher, therefore collaboration is the suggested method for diagnosis. To determine whether the behavior is due to an emotional or behavioral disorder, one must be aware of the underlying cause of the disruption. The teacher needs to clarify what kinds of behavior are causing concern. Then, the teacher needs to specify what is wrong with the behavior. Finally, a plan of action must be put into play. Once the problem is detected, it is a collaborative effort to remedy the situation in the most effective manner. The teacher must be aware of the school?s policy in dealing with depressed students. A very important element of the teacher?s responsibility is to provide adequate supervision in the school. Obviously, the teacher has very little influence when the child goes home, but in the school, the teacher has responsibilities. The teacher also has responsibilities to document and report any changes in the child.

In accommodating emotional and behavioral disorder students there are many factors to keep in mind. Their misbehavior may be a result of inappropriate curriculum or teaching strategies, however not all misbehavior is attributed to these factors. There are certain factors which may have an impact on the behavior of the classroom which need to be taken into account. Teachers must keep group size and composition in mind when assigning group work. If the teacher is not careful about this problems may arise. The teacher also has to allow for planning time. Another factor is cultural or linguistic barriers. If there are communication barriers, then misbehavior is more likely to occur. Finally, the lack of resources may influence the child?s behavior. Once the teacher has taken the necessary precautions, and the child has been identified as having an emotional or behavioral disorder, there are certain steps a teacher can take in the classroom to accommodate or adapt to the student?s behavior.

The first step in accommodating an emotionally or behaviorally disturbed child is to set realistic, short term goals. The child could even participate in the development of the intervention strategies and goals. This makes the intervention more personally relevant and they understand the repercussions of their actions. The goals should start out small and short term and gradually increase. Initially, teachers may need to accept behavior that would not ordinarily be accepted, but will help to conquer the goal in the long run. For example, a student who exhibits explosive anger may not be punished for screaming or cursing as long as the child is not physically abusive. This is a small first step, but it is a step in the right direction. ?We can?t expect a student to go from 60 to 0 in one step. Too often with behavioral interventions, we make that mistake.? (Rockwell 2). Another important concept in accommodating these children is to use positive behavioral interventions instead of punishment. The intervention strategy should be based on logical consequences for inappropriate behaviors. For example if a child breaks or destroys property, they should be required to pay for or repair the property. This teaches the child to take responsibility for their actions. Another accommodation is for the teacher to erect a cardboard blockade on the child?s desk who is easily distracted during class time. Another accommodation is for teachers to individualize the curriculum so that it meets the student?s needs in their preferred instructional mode. The child?s learning style and multiple intelligences should be accounted for, and utilized in their curriculum. Also, classes with one violent child should have at least two adults in the room, whether it be another teacher, an aide, or an adult volunteer. This will ensure the safety of the teacher and of the other students in the class. The other end of the continuum of services would be that the child be educated in an alternative setting. This will allow for structured environment, individualized attention, and behavioral management practices.

I will be teaching in the classroom in a few short months, and I am aware that I may encounter children with emotional or behavioral disorders. I was aware of most of the characteristics of emotionally or behaviorally disruptive children, but this research project really helped me to know what to do in when the situation presents itself. Researching this topic has helped me tremendously to know the characteristics of this disorder, how to identify the disturbed student, and how to accommodate their individual needs. If a child is demonstrating inappropriate behaviors at inappropriate times and they seem unhappy or violent for no apparent reason and therefore demonstrate poor self confidence and consequently their grades drop, I will know how to help them cope and work with the disorder to make education a positive experience for them. It is impossible to say exactly what I would do if I were in the situation, until I am in the situation, but researching about the methods of coping and remending the situation gives me a sound framework on which to base my judgments when I am actually in that situation.

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