IDEA (federal law), defines serious emotional disabilities as:
a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which adversely affects educational performance: An inability to learn which 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
Considering this definition, there are many aspects of behavioral disorders and a multitude of areas that they can effect.
Within the classroom, behavioral disorders (also can be referred to as emotional disability) become apparent when a student displays a repetitive and impact persistent pattern of behavior that results in the significant disruption in other students. Such disturbances may cause significant impairments in academic, social, and or occupational functioning. Such a behavior pattern is consistent throughout the individual’s life. There can be difficulty with these children and sometimes the classroom can only provide services to a limited area where the child can get help. Often more support is needed, but it can be difficult finding a balance between getting the child help and the teacher properly communicating with the parent.
Some characteristics of emotional disturbances include: bullying, exhibiting lots of physical aggression, showing little remorse and compassion, destruction of others property, blame others for wrong doings, and physical abuse of others. Disruptive behavioural disorders are complicated and may include many different factors working in combination. For example, a child who exhibits the delinquent behaviours of CD may also have ADHD, anxiety, depression, a drug abuse problem and a difficult home life. This can make working with it difficult as it takes patience and understanding. These students can also be disruptive to other children in the classroom making it even more difficult.
Emotional disabilities can also affect a child inwardly, so that although they might not appear behavioral they can greatly impact the child’s education. The emotional disability may provide limited distractions to others, but the child cannot find it within themselves to focus and learn.
In all the above cases, it is important to get the child help both within the classroom and outside counseling. It is also important to follow through with doctor instructions to allow the child the best opportunities available to succeed. It can also be rewarding watching the children succeed and get beyond the disability.