Foundations for Understanding Emotional Disabilities

Emotional behavioral disorders, EBD, affect many children. This article will give you the basics to understanding emotional disabilities.

EBD refers to a wide range of disorders and as such is hard to define in one single sentence with one single thought. EBD can co-exist with other disorders and can include disorders such as, schizophrenia, affective disorders, anxiety disorders, or individuals who have other sustained disturbances of behavior, emotions, attention, or adjustment (NASP, 2005). It is defined as “An emotional disability characterized by one or more of the following: Displayed pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression, consistent or chronic inappropriate type of behavior or feelings under normal conditions, inability to learn that cannot be adequately explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors, displayed tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains, or fears associated with personal or school problems, inability to build or maintain interpersonal relationships with peers and/or teachers” (Georgia Department of Education, 2002). EBD can affect the child’s relationships, attention, goals, development level, maturity, self-care, academic progress, and social adjustment.


As the definition is flexible, the history within emotional and behavioral disorders has also fluctuated in ways to deal with emotional and behavioral disorders, as well as, what is included within the definition of emotional behavioral disorders. There has been development on the causes of EBD. The child’s emotional and behavioral health may have links with the genetical make up, their temperament, brain disorders, the community, the school, and/or the home. Children with emotional behavioral disorders have found education in a variety of places. For example, there are boarding schools, mental health hospitals, home schooling, and options within the public school system (Heward, 2003).

Each child is different and as such the disability will effect them differently. Some children become introverted while others lash out. It is important to watch for warning signs that something is wrong with your child. If you have questions, as other caregivers, teachers, and your doctor. Once diagnosis is given individual plans can be worked with your child’s specific needs in order to help them be successful.


Georgia Department of Education. (2002). Retrieved September 11, 2006 from

NASP. (2005). Retrieved September 10, 2006 from

Wikipedia. (2006). Mental Illness. Retrieved September 10, 2006 from

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