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What is Emotional Disturbance

Child Therapist

TEA Definition

A student with an emotional disturbance is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for emotional disturbance as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(4): A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance: (A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. (B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. (C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. (D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. (E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. (ii) Emotional disturbance includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance under paragraph (c)(4)(i) of this section. The written report of evaluation must include specific recommendations for behavioral supports and interventions.

Educational Impact

When a student is determined to be eligible for special education services due to an Emotional Disturbance (ED), it signifies that their emotional and behavioral challenges significantly impede their ability to learn and succeed in a general education setting. This eligibility designation acknowledges that the student requires specialized support and accommodations to access and benefit from their education. The educational impact of an ED eligibility often includes:

1. Academic Struggles

2. Social and Emotional Development

4. Inconsistent Attendance

5. Behavioral Challenges

6. Emotional Regulation

7. Increased need for support

Classroom Accommodation Examples

  • Structured Environment: Provide clear routines, schedules, and visual cues to establish a predictable and structured classroom environment.

  • Quiet Space: Designate a designated quiet area or calming corner where the student can go to self-regulate and de-escalate if needed.

  • Flexible Seating: Allow the student to choose their seating arrangement to accommodate their comfort and preference.

  • Breaks: Offer opportunities for short, frequent breaks to help the student manage stress and maintain focus.

  • Emotional Check-Ins: Establish a system for the student to communicate their emotional state, allowing for timely interventions if needed.

  • Positive Reinforcement: Provide regular positive feedback, rewards, or incentives to motivate and reinforce positive behavior.

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