Christ discerned the possibilities in every human being. He was not turned aside by an unpromising exterior or by unfavorable surroundings. He called Matthew from the tollbooth, and Peter and his brethren from the fishing boat, to learn of Him.
The same personal interest, the same attention to individual development, are needed in educational work today. Many apparently unpromising youth are richly endowed with talents that are put to no use. Their faculties lie hidden because of a lack of discernment on the part of their educators. In many a boy or girl outwardly as unattractive as a rough-hewn stone, may be found precious material that will stand the test of heat and storm and pressure. The true educator, keeping in view what his pupils may become, will recognize the value of the material upon which he is working. He will take a personal interest in each pupil and will seek to develop all his powers. However imperfect, every effort to conform to right principles will be encouraged.
Education pgs. 232-233


Vignette: Serious Emotional Disturbance
Josh is an 8 year old 2nd grader that has been diagnosed with a conduct disorder. When he started school in 1st grade, his teachers noted that Josh had difficulties transitioning from one subject to another. He would often cry when told to put away his materials and sometimes throw major tantrums. Frequently he had to be removed from the classroom for the safety of his peers and preservation of classroom property. Josh repeatedly had meltdowns when he did not understand schoolwork as well. His teachers also noted that he did not have many friends and refrained from social interactions. Josh’s parents (just recently divorced) reported that they did not experience the behaviors at home. He is the youngest of 3 children and hit all of his developmental milestones. He had never been enrolled in any formal school setting until the 1st grade.
Towards the end of the 1st grade, Josh was given a psychological evaluation and it was determined that he had Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). An IEP was developed that included behavioral goals, rewards and consequences, and much communication with home. A place was set aside in the classroom where Josh could cool-down when frustrated. Josh’s teachers were trained on how to de-escalate volatile situations and a resource person was designated where Josh could go before he experienced a meltdown.
Since diagnosis, Josh’s behavioral outbursts have decreased and his social interactions have gotten demonstrably better. He has an organizer on his desk that tells him the order of the day. If Joshua begins to feel frustrated he has the option of going to a quiet space in the room for 2 minutes as long as he raises a red card and the teacher approves. He is allowed to use the card 3xs per day. If he does not use the card at all for the day, he gets to call home with his teacher to inform his parents.
What is Serious Emotional Disturbance?
A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects 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; or
· A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.


A helpful perspective…

Prevalence: ~8-13% of school aged children in the U.S. Boys may outnumber girls 3.5-1
Describe Characteristics of Students
· inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors
· inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers
· inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
· general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
· tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems
· Defiant
· Impertinent
· Uncooperative
· Irritable
· Attention seeking
· Negative
· Hypersensitive
· Hyperactivity (short attention span, impulsiveness)
· Aggression/self-injurious behavior (acting out, fighting)
· Withdrawal (failure to initiate interaction with others)
· Retreat from exchanges of social interaction
· Excessive fear or anxiety
· Immaturity (inappropriate crying, temper tantrums, poor coping skills)
· Learning difficulties (academically performing below grade level)

How is this disability identified?
· Don Hellison’s Social Development or Social Responsibility Model
· Wechsler IQ Series
· Walker and McConnell Scale of Social Competence and School Adjustment
· Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery

How do these learners receive their education?
· Resource Rooms
· General Education settings
· Group homes
· Residential placements

What are best educational practices?
· Display appropriate authority
· Explain class goals on 1st day and routine to be followed
· Discuss goals often with each student, develop a contract what student must do to achieve goal, relate goals to the group goals
· Keep simple class rules, set as few as possible to obtain order
· Clearly explain consequences of not following the rules, or regulations and the rewards for following them as well
· Allow students to be involved in the consequence process, post in the room or allow them to take part in making them.
· Demonstrate consistency in enforcing rules and providing feedback.
· Target behaviors that need to change and define components of these behaviors
· Learn what triggers emotional/behavioral outbursts
· Observe, chart and analyze behaviors to change
· Social skills training
· Select and apply specific strategies to achieve behavior changes (i.e. start and stop signals, routines for transitions, techniques for forming groups, strategies for coping with disruptive behaviors)
· Periodically evaluate progress toward changing an individual’s behaviors and revise their behavior change plan
· Allow individuals to feel safe by task analyzing and structuring activities to assure personal mastery
· Promote vicarious feelings of mastery by watching and listening to models who look successful and appear to be having fun
· Use personal persuasion by significant others
· Provide counseling or psychotherapy that teaches cognitive control of anxiety and fear


· Develop consistent behavior expectations.
· Functional Behavioral Assessments
· IEPs
· Behavioral Intervention Plans
· Involve the student in setting academic and personal goals.
· Engage in role playing situations.
· Communicate with parents so that strategies are consistent at home and school.
· Set limits and boundaries.
· Apply established consequences immediately, fairly and consistently.
· Acknowledge and reinforce acceptable behavior.
· Avoid confrontation and power struggles.
· Provide a highly structured classroom environment.
· Clearly post rules and expectations.
· Establish a quiet cool off area.
· Provide and teach opportunities for the student to use self-control/self-monitoring techniques to control behavior.
· Teach self-talk to relieve stress and anxiety.
· Teach and provide time for relaxation techniques.
· Establish cues as reminders for inappropriate behavior.
· Redirect to avoid situations that may increase anxiety levels.
· Remain calm and aware of your body language when addressing the student.
· Provide a positive and encouraging classroom environment.
· Use a study carrel to limit distractions.
· Use visually stimulating material for assignments/learning presentations.
· Use specialized technology and software.
· Develop and use behavior contracts.
· Give frequent feedback.

Inclusive Practices:

· Training school personnel on the nature and range of behavioral disorders.
· Making other students aware of potential challenges and educating them on appropriate responses
· Making a space available for ‘meltdowns’
· Training the class on appropriate ways to get attention
· Differentiate Instruction
· Make students aware of transitions ahead of time
· Cues for transitions
· Limit unstructured time
· Seat students in the front
· Pair students with peers that demonstrate good behavior
· Structure the class for self-discipline
· Make rules specific and few
· Establish positive and negative consequences for behavior
· Act-out potential scenarios

Provide a continuum of severity or extent possible in youngsters:

Can be mild to extremely severe.

Special Challenges for General Education :

· Learning and administering IEP stipulations
· Learning and administering Behavioral Intervention Plans
· Maintaining classroom control in the event of a meltdown

Accommodations: Assistive Technology PDF

· Point Sheets
· Behavior charts
· Dry erase boards
· Clipboards
· 3-ring binders
· Manila file folders
· photo albums
· Laminated PCS/photographs
· Highlight tape
· Tape recorder
· Language Master
· Overhead projector
· Timers
· Calculators
· Voice output devices
· Video cameras
· Computers and adaptive hardware

Wraparound Service if any:

· Case management
· Psychotherapy
· Support groups for parents
· Boys and Girls Club
· Sports involvement

Impact: Is this a school issue or life issue - Why?
Both. Children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome will live with their disorder for their entire lives. Many of the serious emotional disturbance spectrum disorders can be managed with support, psychotherapy and sometimes with psychotropic medication.
Impact: How does this affect home?
Can very negatively affect home. Parents may experience guilt as they search for the cause of the disturbance. Feelings of frustration and anger at the child may pervade the home as well. There may be a disruption in family life if emotional outbursts, stealing, lying, and other behaviors become out of control.
Name of someone who has achieved greatness:

Ernest Hemingway (bipolar) was an American author and journalist. His distinctive writing style, characterized by economy and understatement, influenced 20th-century fiction, as did his life of adventure and public image. He produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Hemingway's fiction was successful because the characters he presented exhibited authenticity that resonated with his audience. Many of his works are classics of American literature. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works during his lifetime; a further three novels, four collections of short stories, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously.

Name of a teacher who overcame this or is helping a child overcome it.
Jamaican-born Lena McCalla Njee is currently a special education teacher at Augusta Street Pre-School in the Irvington School District in New Jersey, teaching children with autism and other disabilities from 2005 to the present.
Last month, she was named teacher of the year for the Irvington School District in New Jersey, and is now in the running for teacher of the year for the state and the country.
What can you do to make a difference for the child?
Remain calm, give clear, concise directions, be firm, have high but attainable expectations.
What can you do to support parents?

Suggest respite care, intensive case management services, and multi-agency treatment plans.
Sullivan, A. L. (2010). Preventing Disproportionality: A Framework for Culturally Responsive Assessment. Communique, 39(3), 1,. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.