Emotional Disabilities - Essay Example

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Many issues such concerning children with emotional disabilities need to have clear parameters when it comes to history, definitions and the theoretical models used to view emotional disabilities especially in conjunction with learning. Relying on mere observation, a teacher cannot readily identify a child with emotional disability…
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Emotional Disabilities Many issues such concerning children with emotional disabilities need to have clear parameters when it comes to history, definitions and the theoretical models used to view emotional disabilities especially in conjunction with learning. Relying on mere observation, a teacher cannot readily identify a child with emotional disability. According to Theresa Ochoa, an assistant professor of special education, teachers who expect that students with emotional and behavioral disorders could behave on their own are using a wrong premise, "because emotional disabilities with these students are not readily apparent or visible" (Doty, 2003). The crucial issue for teachers and federal and state authorities issue is to be able to differentiate between misconduct and emotional disability (Doty, 20003).
With regards to history, a child or student to be eligible for emotional disability, pertinent evaluations are conducted. The school must conduct psychological testing by a trained school psychologist and the testing includes cognitive testing and social/emotional measures through rating scales, interviews and observations (School Psychologist Files, 2006-2007). In addition, to rule out environmental factors, a socio-cultural evaluation is done by a social worker with a parent of the child to determine a developmental history (School Psychologist Files, 2006-2007). Another issue that poses a challenge to school authorities is determining whether a child has emotional disability/disturbance or is socially maladjusted. A guide used by an educational agency in Michigan addresses this issue by drawing a matrix of characteristics in terms of behavior to differentiate emotionally disturbed and socially maladjusted students (School Psychologist Files, 2006-2007).
In terms of definition, the eligibility of a child or student for having emotional disability is currently determined according to criteria set by Individual with Disabilities Act, Public Law 101-476 (Carrol n.d. "Emotional Disabilities"). An emotional disability is defined as "a condition a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance -
1. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
3. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
4. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems."
Normal children may exhibit the characteristics associated with emotionally disabled children, but the key thing for teachers and school authorities is that when over-time, children continue to exhibit the associated behaviors, it raises the bar for suspicion that a child may be emotionally disabled.
The theoretical models of emotional disabilities include functionalism or the functionalist approach and structuralism. These two approaches are more or less concerned or used in applied psychology and are useful in education of children with emotional disabilities and in early intervention. Functionalism, as opposed to structuralism is concerned with cause and prediction of behavior, while the latter is concerned with description (Miller, Tansy & Hughes, 1998, November 18). In dealing with emotional disabilities, the functionalist approach results in a more individual or tailored solution to problems of emotional disabilities while structuralism deals with problems according to solutions that have observed as effective to a number of cases.
Doty, R. (2003, March 14). Misconduct or emotional disability IU educator's research focuses on better teacher education. Indiana University [On-Line] Retrieved November 14, 2007, from
School Psychologist Files. (2007-2007). Emotional Disability. Retrieved November 14, 2007, from
Carrol, B. (n.d.). Emotional Disabilities. P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children's Education Forum. Moss Foundation [Online] Retrieve November 14, 2007, from
Miller, J. A., Tansy, M., & Hughes, T. L. (1998, November 18). Functional behavioral assessment: The link between problem behavior and effective intervention in schools. Current Issues in Education [On-line], 1(5). Retrieved November 14, 2007 from, Read More
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