Chapter 8.docx

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 2110
Agnieszka Woznia

Chapter 8: Learners with Emotional or Behavioural Disorders - Children and youths who have emotional or behavioural disorders most obvious problem is failure to establish close and satisfying emotional ties with other people who can help them - Present some of the most difficult social problems that our society has to solve TERMINOLOGY - The terminology of the field is so variable and confusing that it is possible to pick a label of choice simply by choosing one or more of the overlapping terms from Set A and combining it with one of those from Set B (FIGURE 8.1 pg. 201) - Many authorities favour terminology indicating that these children may have emotional or behavioural problems or both DEFINITION Definitional Problems - Forming objective definitions of emotional or behavioural disorders is difficult for the following reasons:  We lack precise definitions or mental health and normal behaviour  There are substantial differences among conceptual models  Emotional or behavioural disorders often overlap with other exceptionalities  Professionals who diagnose and serve children and youths often disagree - Emotional or behavioural disorders tend to overlap a great deal with other exceptionalities, especially learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities Current Definitions - No single definition for emotional and behavioural disorders exists within provincial and territorial jurisdictions in Canada - There is general agreement that emotional or behavioral disorder refers to the following:  Behaviour that goes to an extreme – i.e. that is not just slightly different from the usual  A problem that is chronic  Behaviour that is unacceptable because of social or cultural expectations CLASSIFICATION - Researchers have identified 2 broad, pervasive dimensions of disordered behaviour:  Externalizing behaviour involves striking out against others  Internalizing behaviour involves mental or emotional conflicts, such as depression and anxiety - Individuals may show behaviours characteristic of both dimensions – not mutually exclusive  Comorbidity: the co-occurrence of two or more conditions in the same individual – is not usual PREVALENCE - Estimates of the prevalence have varied tremendously because there has been no standard and reliable definition or screening instrument - At least 6-10% of children and youths of school age exhibit serious and persistent emotional/behavioural problems - The most common types of problems exhibited by students who are placed in special education for emotional or behavioural disorders are externalizing - Boys outnumber girls in displaying these behaviours by a ratio of 5 to 1 or more - Disabling conditions of various kinds are much more common among young offenders than among the general population - Adolescent males account for a disproportionately high % of serious violent crime CAUSES - Causes have been attributed to 4 major factors:  Biological disorders and diseases  Pathological family relationships  Undesirable experiences at school  Negative cultural influences - Although in the majority of cases, there is no empirical evidence that any of these factors is directly responsible for the disorder, some factors might give a child a predisposition to exhibit problem behaviour, and others might trigger it - In almost all cases, the question of what specifically has caused the disorder cannot be answered because no one really knows, however, we often do know the factors that place children at risk Biological Factors - For those with severe and profound disorders, however, there is evidence to suggest that biological factors may contribute to their conditions - All children are born with a biologically determined behavioural style or temperament - Some people have long believed that children with so-called difficult temperaments are predisposed to develop emotional or behavioural disorders - Substance abuse also can contribute to emotional and behavioural problems - Biological factors cause or set the stage for many disorders that formerly were widely assumed to be caused mostly or entirely by social interactions ex. Schizophrenia or Tourette’s syndrome - 4 points are important to remember about biological causes 1. The fact that disorders have biological causes does not mean that they are not emotional or behavioural disorders 2. Causes are seldom exclusively biological or psychological 3. Biological or medical treatment of the disorder is seldom sufficient to resolve the problem 4. Medical or biological approaches are sometimes of little or no benefit, and the primary interventions are psychological or behavioural, even though the disorder is known to have primarily a biological cause Family Factors - Not possible to find consistent and valid research findings that allow the blame for the children’s problem behaviour to be placed primarily on their parents - Sensitivity to children’s needs, love-oriented methods of dealing with misbehaviour, and positive reinforcement for appropriate behaviour unquestionably tend to promote desirable behaviour in children - Parents who are generally lax in disciplining their children but are hostile, rejecting, cruel, and inconsistent in dealing with misbehaviour are likely to have aggressive, delinquent children - Chaotic, disorganized homes in which the parents themselves have arrest records or are violent are particularly likely to foster delinquency and lack of social competence School Factors - Children who exhibit disorders when they enter school may become better or worse according to how they are managed in the classroom - There is a very real danger that a child who exhibits problem behaviour will become trapped in a spiral of negative interactions, in which he becomes increasingly irritating to and irritated by teachers and peers - Discipline in the school might be too lax, too rigid, or inconsistent Cultural Factors - Values and behavioural standards are communicated to children through a variety of cultural conditions, demands, prohibitions, and models - Several specific cultural influences come to mind: violence in the media, the use of terror as a means of coercion, the availability of recreational drugs and the level of drug abuse, changing standards for sexual conduct, religious demands and restrictions on behaviour, and the threat of nuclear accidents or war - Peers are another important source of cultural influence, particularly after the child enters the upper elementary grades - The level of violence depicted on TV and in the movies is almost certainly a contributing factor in the increasing level of violence in society - The changing cultural conditions in Canada and the US might predispose children to develop emotional or behavioural disorders and a variety of other disabling conditions or to be mistakenly identified as having such disorders - We are living in an era of enormous affluence for some but also one in which poverty and related problems continue to grow rapidly IDENTIFICATION - It is much easier to identify disordered behaviours than it is to define and classify their types and causes - Most common type of emotional or behavioural disorder – conduct disorder, an externalizing problem – attracts immediate attention, so there is seldom any real problem in identification - Students with internalizing problems might be less obvious, but they are not difficult to recognize ex. Schizophrenia - The younger child, the more difficult it is to judge whether her behaviour signifies a serious problem - Teachers’ informal judgements have served as a reasonably valid and reliable means of screening students for emotional or behavioural problems - Although teachers tend to over-refer students who exhibit externalizing behaviour problems, they tend to under refer students with internalizing problems - Three-step process: 1. The teacher lists and ranks students with externalizing and internalizing problems 2. The teacher completes 2 checklists for the three highest-ranked pupils on each list. One checklist asks the teacher to indicate whether each pupil exhibited specific behaviours during the past month, the other requires the teacher to judge how often each pupil shows certain characteristics PSYCHOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIOURAL CHARACTERISTICS Intelligence and Achievement - The idea that children and youths with emotional or behavioural disorders tend to be particularly bright is a myth; IQ in the dull-normal range - Pitfalls in assessing the intellectual characteristics of a group of children by examining the distribution of their IQs - A relatively good predictor of how far a student will progress academically and socially, even in cases of severe disorders Social and Emotional Characteristics Aggressive, Acting-Out Behaviour (Externalizing) - Drive adults to distraction - Not popular with their peers unless they are socialized delinquents - Typically do not respond quickly and positively to well-meaning adults who care about them - Their behaviour not only is extremely troublesome but also appears to be resistant to change through typical dis
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