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Behavior: Social Skills, Self Esteem

Emotional Disturbance


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Joined: Sep 11, 2003
Posts: 1
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Posted Sep 11, 2003 at 10:07:50 AM
Subject: Emotional Disturbance

How can you tell if a student is emotionally disturbed or if he or she is just acting out to get attention? What do you do in a classroom situation to keep these students from affecting the rest of the class, and how do you reach them to learn the material?

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Anonymous
Joined Jul 22, 2014
Posts: 69140

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Posted:Sep 24, 2003 1:40:30 AM

Only emotionally disturbed students 'act out' in an emotionally disturbed way. No student puts on an act of emotional disturbance. The normal ways students act out eg. temper tantrums, sulking, anger, crying, teasing other children - don't strike you as emotionally disturbed.

When one student threatens another with bodily harm, that's a red flag of possible emotional disturbance. When one student stalks another student, that's another kind of red flag. Physical aggression, a student prone to violence - that's a red flag of possible emotional disturbance.

It's not that hard really. Students who annoy you or exasperate you aren't emotionally disturbed. Students who give you great pause or even give you the creeps usually are.

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Anonymous
Joined Jul 22, 2014
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Posted:Apr 25, 2004 9:15:13 PM
Subject:reply

i have a sister that is classified as emotionally disturbed and she never lashes out or acts violent she gets very sad and upset when she feels critisied or belitled and she cant focus in school when she doesnt understand things she becomes withdrawn her emotional problems get in the way of her learning that is emotionally distured but if a child is classified as severely emotionally disturbed then they can have violent tendencies ...........

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Christi
Joined Apr 28, 2004
Posts: 10

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Posted:Apr 28, 2004 10:43:41 PM

This sounds like you are asking how do you know when a kid is just seeking attention and when there is a deeper problem. (I'd avoid the term emotionally disturbed because it's loaded [disturbed implies bad] and to focused [neurological problems may mimic emotional problems].)

With any kid who "acts out" I'd ask, what is causing the acting out? How does it manifest? What rewards does the child get for acting out? How much control does the child seem to have?

Now, if the question is does the child qualify for services under ED or EH (emotional disturbance or emotional handicap -- different states use different terms), there are criteria which are spelled out. Does the child have an inability to learn which is not explained by intellectual (low IQ), sensory (blind, deaf) or health (chronic illness) factors? Does the child have an inability to build or maintaing satisfactory relationships with peers and/or teachers? Does the child have inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances in several situations (that is not just once)? Does the child have a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression? Does the child have a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems? [paraphrased from California special ed criteria] A yes answer to one or more of these questions could indicate special education placement is appropriate.

As to the question of how to keep the problem from causing problems in the classroom, this is something that requires an individualized approach. A functional behavioral analysis will tell you what causes the behaviors and hopefully, how to substitute appropriate behaviors for the inappropriate ones. First figure out what causes the behavior, when it happens, etc. Then figure out how to avoid it and replace it with behavior you want.

Finally, if you have a student with behavioral issues, (with the parent's permission, of course) discuss it with the class in general. You could speak about emotional disabilities in general or the particular disability specifically. I know a number of parents of kids with autism who find it helps to have the other students understand some of why the child behaves differently and find it useful with my own kids for them to understand the disabilities of the kids they come in contact with. The kid with Tourette's Syndrome who helps out in my daughter's class is, to her, a kid who's a great helper who has some unusual behaviors because of his disability. She doesn't think of him as weird, possibly in part because she knows his has a disability. (Probably also in part because she's an amazinginly understanding and good kid with a brother with autism, but I'd like to think that she will develop better knowing that it's not something they can control than just they are weird :D )

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Sue
Joined Jun 14, 2003
Posts: 1845

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Posted:May 01, 2004 12:24:15 PM

It's a judgement call, but I've learned to sense when kiddos keep doing things when it *isn't* going to meet their needs for attention or whatever.
I had a teacher who made an art form of giving people attention -- I remember the light going on in my head. My response to people behaving strangely to get attention would have been to make darned sure I didn't reward such behavior by giving attention -- but she would make sure they got attention, just not connected to the silly behavior, and attention that pointed them towards appropriate behavior.
It's more likely to be an ED issue if the kiddo does the old "testing behavior"... and then when you draw the line, they just keep doing the "testing behavior." These are also the folks who keep escalating long after anybody else would have realized it was time to shut up and re-assess, and not because htey'd lost their tempers (more like they never had one); when it's a cop, you should chill... that doesn't pierce their armor.
Personally I don't file it under ED (though some would) when a kiddo's version of "testing" or "attention-getting" behavior is more creative/flaky/bizarre than others (notice, self-destructive or hostile is not among those adjectives). It's my job as teacher type to treat it as the behavior it is... and then to give some coaching about the weirdness if that would help.
Usually, giving "attention" that costs a little recess time (no, I'm not advocating taking away recess -- but that minute and a half of it spent explaining to me just why that behavior wasn't appropriate can be a profound disincentive)... done in a very "attentive" way that lets the student know you really do think highly of them and expect them to be a wondeful asset to your world because some times that *is* the ticket... goes a long way.

Sue J, webmastress www.resourceroom.net

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Anonymous
Joined Jul 22, 2014
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Posted:Jan 26, 2005 8:51:06 AM

I am actually facing the same problem in the class that I teach. How on earth do you not give the problem behavior attention? Do you just ignore the behavior in hopes that it will go away or do you just keep reprimanding? I have a child in my social studies class who is a constant class disruptor, bullies, does not follow directions and talks back to teachers constatnly. It is like he has no concept of what is socially acceptable. I feel like I can only reprimand him so many times, before I throw him out of class, which has actually become an every day thing. The other students have even gotten to the point that they try to ignore him as much as possible. Any advise would be great!!!

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