Emotional Disturbances In Modern Children

emotional disturbancesEmotional disturbances is quite a common condition which many parents of modern kids have to deal with. Many doctors say that there is nothing wrong with the kids who show the signs of a condition like this, but it is very important for all parents of our times to know as much as possible abut the problem, recognize it on time and be totally prepared to manage with it. Emotional disturbances  include both emotional and behavioral extremes and deficits of different levels: from emotionally disturbed or depressive patterns of behavior to schizophrenic and psychopathic symptoms. It is estimated that typically about 20% of school students suffer from various types of emotional or behavioral disturbances, and 2-3% of them have severe or chronic problems which usually require treatment or at least special care.

The IDEA defines emotional disturbances as follows: “…a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance: (A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. (B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. (C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. (D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. (E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.” [Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Section 300.7(c)(4)(i)]

Besides, the IDEA states that emotional disturbance condition includes also the cases of schizophrenia, but not in cases when students are socially maladjusted [Code of Federal Regulation, Title 34, Section 300.7(c)(4)(ii)]. Theorists define four types of emotional disturbances: conduct disorders, personal disorders, socialized delinquency and immaturity [theory of Quay, 1972].

The main characteristics of this disorder include the following. On one hand, students with emotional disturbances may demonstrate aggression, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, disobedience, anxiety, withdrawal, etc. But some of the students, on the contrary, can be passive, silent, isolated, and show inability to cope and to interact, may suffer sudden attacks of cry and depression. Many students with emotional disturbances face considerable learning difficulties. Unlikely to normal children, who may also from time to time exhibit above mentioned syndromes, students with emotional disturbances follow such behavioral patterns continuously and for long periods of time.

Progress ans development of unrecognized or improperly managed emotional disturbances may sometimes result in quite serious complications. Some parents tend to believe the weird or too nervous behavior of their children is something linked to age, and they are convinced that even without special care their children will start acting and behaving normally, thus will be able to reach the same mental development and achieve the same academic results as their peers. Unfortunately, most of the doctors do not share the same opinion. They say that the symptoms of emotional disturbances do not disappear easily with age, and frequently teenagers may need special consultations of professional psychologists and psychiatrists in order to improve their emotional and mental condition.

Educational approaches for students with emotional disturbances must be based, first of all, on providing behavioral and emotional assistance, like some services, helping to develop better communication and social skills, or to strengthen self-control. One of the most effective teaching strategies is Positive Behavioral Support (PBS), which includes efforts of teachers to minimize unusual behavioral patterns of students with emotional disturbances, without concentrating on the very emotional backgrounds. The other approach is so called “therapeutic milieu,” which means creating of positive and friendly school environment for a student with emotional disturbances.


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