Teachers are often the first adults to suspect when their students suffer from an emotional disorder. Inappropriate classroom behaviors are early signs of emotional struggles. Within a school setting, children suffering from Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBDs) demonstrate an array of challenges that make learning and socializing difficult. Understanding their needs is critical to their academic success and emotional health.
How EBDs Are Identified
Physicians, social workers, or psychologists are qualified to diagnose EBDs using criteria established as part of IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), which has proven to be a big help in dealing with issues involving children's psychology. When students have consistent trouble building relationships with peers, working as part of a team, or persistently demonstrate inappropriate behaviors and emotions (depression or irrational fear), they qualify for special services.
In 2011, more than 370,000 children between the ages of 6 and 21 received school-based support because of their EBDs, thanks to IDEA. The parents of over 8 million children aged 4 to 17 sought a potential diagnosis and support for their children and nearly 3 million children received prescription medications to treat and control severe EBDs.
Support for Teachers
Since they are frequently first to identify emotional and behavioral problems, teachers can learn how to help these students while maintaining safety in the classroom. Peer tutoring has proven effective, but sometimes students with emotional issues become aggressive. Teachers are advised to make accommodations for students with EBDs without undermining class rules, but also to seek help when they need it. Their goal is to address the needs of students individually, a caring approach which acknowledges that each child with an EBD is unique.
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What are Emotional and behavior disorders?
Emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) is an umbrella term encompassing multiple disorders wherein a child's affect or behavior are atypical.
EBDs can vary in severity with no clear cutoff between typical behavior, troubling behavior, and serious behavioral issues.
Not all children who experience an EBD will meet diagnostic and criteria, but just because they do not meet criteria does not mean they do not need help
IDEA guides schools in the identification process for qualifying students under the disability category of emotional disturbance
Students may meet eligibility criteria by meeting one of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a degree that significantly impacts a child's educational performance
Students may have an established diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fifth Edition (DSM-V) made by a physician, licensed social worker, or licensed psychologist, but it is not required to meet criteria for eligibility.
Similarly, a diagnosis does not automatically result in a student meeting eligibility criteria
EBDs are the fourth largest disability category under IDEA
In 2011, over 371,000 students (ages 6 to 21) received special education and other services in public schools under the category of "emotional disturbance"
The CDC reports almost almost 8.3 million children 4 - 17 (14.5%0 have parents who have talked with a health care provider or school staff about the child's emotional or behavioral difficulties
Nearly 2.9 million children have been prescribed medication for these difficulties
Research has shown that using peers is effective for improving academic achievement, time on tasks, and behavior of students with disabilities and EBDs
Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) is the most researched and widely recognized effective peer tutoring, wherein students are assigned to pairs to peer tutor each other