Understanding Behavior Disorders
The pandemic has laid bare the fact that children’s mental health is a significant concern. After almost two years of an unpredictable global health crisis, many children are acting out in school and home. Some may be dealing with everyday stress, but some children may be struggling to manage a serious mental illness such as an emotional disturbance or behavioral disorder.
Behavioral disorders are a diverse group of conditions in which a child chronically performs highly inappropriate behaviors, such as acting out disruptively or aggressively. Some children with behavioral disorders might seem anxious, withdrawn, or disconnected from everyday reality. In some cases, a child with a behavioral disorder may be classified as having a different condition, such as ADHD or a learning disability.
Goals can include many different skill areas, such as communication, social skills, self-care, or academic skills. The instruction plan breaks down each of these skills into small, concrete steps. The therapist teaches each step one by one, from simple to more complex.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines emotional disturbance as a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period and to a significant degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:
- An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors
- An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers
- Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
- A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
- A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems
Behavioral disorders and emotional disturbances are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning.
These disorders include but aren’t limited to:
- Anxiety disorders like panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Psychotic disorders like schizophrenia
Final note to parents
Like any medical health condition, these are medical disorders that can impact a child’s future emotional well being, social life, and cognitive skills. According to the Office of Special Education Programs, in the 2017-18 school year, “students identified with emotional disturbance, ages 14-21, exiting school were more likely to drop out and less likely to graduate than all students with disabilities.”
Therefore if you see a child exhibiting extreme or socially unacceptable characteristics like aggression, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, withdrawal from social groups, inappropriate crying or anger, it is essential to seek out a professional therapist for diagnosis and treatment. A professional can help you understand the behavior, and give the child tools to manage the disorder.
Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey
Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.
— John Gonzalez, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ