Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

An emotional or behavioral disorder is related to emotional difficulties experienced by children and adolescents. It is hard to separate troubling behavior from a serious emotional problem because children's behaviors exist on a continuum. A child is said to have a specific "disorder" or diagnosis when his or her behaviors are severe and occur frequently. Professionals can tell from a child's behavior whether he or she has a specific mental health disorder or if it is just a problem that all children might experience from time to time.

According to research on the cause of emotional disorders, the brain of a child with a disorder receives and processes information in a different way compared with those who do not have those problems. However, this is not the case with all children with emotional disorders. Technologies that study the central nervous system and the relationships between brain chemistry and behavior provide new understanding on the development of emotional disorders. However, one of the most important sources of information used by professionals to diagnose emotional or mental disorders remains interviews with the child, parents or other family members.

Professionals view emotional and behavioral disorders in different ways. Their training, their experience and their philosophy about the cause for a child's problems usually shape their outlook and their treatment plan. The classification system Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition Revised (DSM-IVR), which is the most popular in the United States, provides a list of emotional and behavioral disorders from its diagnostic criteria.

Adjustment disorders refer to emotional or behavioral symptoms displayed by children when they are not able to appropriately adapt to changes or to stressful events in their lives for a specific period of time (between three and six months after a stressful event or a change). The symptoms are marked distress, or impairment in school or social functioning. Adjustment disorders are relatively common, affecting between 5 and 20 percent of children.

Anxiety disorders are disorders whose main feature is exaggerated anxiety. This group includes school phobia, post traumatic stress disorder, avoidant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and panic attack. Temporal anxiety is typical of all children as a reaction to stressful experiences at home or in school, but when it is intense and persistent and interferes with the child's functioning it may be diagnosed as anxiety disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which affects 2.5 percent of children, refers to recurrent and persistent compulsions or obsessions that are time consuming or cause marked distress or significant impairment. Post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) can develop after a child experiences an extremely traumatic event or a series of events, witnesses or learns about a death or injury to someone close to him or her. Selective mutism (previously called elective-mutism) refers to a child or adolescent's persistent inability to speak in specific social situations, such as with playmates or at school, where speaking is expected. The disorder is considered relatively rare and typically lasts a few months.

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder occurs when a child displays symptoms of inattention that are inconsistent with his or her developmental level. The disorder affects between 3 and 5 percent of children. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a condition that is characterized by a recurrent pattern of negativistic, disobedient, defiant and hostile behaviors towards authority figures, which last for at least six months. ODD affects between 2 and 16 percent of children.

Conduct disorder is a condition where a child repetitively and persistently violates the basis rights of others or major social norms appropriate for a specific age. The disorder affects between 6 and 16 percent of boys and between 2 and 9 percent of girls. Bipolar disorder (manic depressive disorder) is characterised by an alternating pattern of emotional lows or depression and emotional highs. Major depressive disorder refers to a series of two or more major depressive episodes occurring at least every two months. Autistic disorder is a pervasive development disorder which occurs when social interaction and communication develop in a markedly abnormal way, while activities and interest are at a markedly restricted level.

Schizophrenia occurs when an individual's personality changes and he or she loses contact with environment. This emotional disorder is frequently manifested in young adulthood and its lifetime prevalence is estimated at between 0.5 and 1 percent. Tourette's disorder includes both multiple motor tics and one or more vocal tics. The tics occur many times a day, almost every day or intermittently for over a year. The disorder affects approximately 4-5 out of 10,000 individuals.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Assessment and Treatment of Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
H. A. Chris Ninness; Sigrid S. Glenn; Janet Ellis.
Praeger, 1993
Issues in Educational Placement: Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
James M. Kauffman; John Wills Lloyd; Daniel P. Hallahan; Terry A. Astuto.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995
Issues in Educating Students with Disabilities
Edward J. Kameenui; David Chard; John Wills Lloyd.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Defining Emotional or Behavioral Disorders in School and Related Services"
Inclusion of All Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders? Let's Think Again
Kauffman, James M.; Lloyd, John Wills; Baker, John; Riedel, Teresa M.
Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 76, No. 7, March 1995
Bringing Research to Bear on Practice: Effecting Evidence-Based Instruction for Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
Cook, Bryan G.; Landrum, Timothy J.; Tankersley, Melody; Kauffman, James M.
Education & Treatment of Children, Vol. 26, No. 4, November 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Students in Discord: Adolescents with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
C. Robin Boucher.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Job Performance of Transition-Age Youth with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Carter, Erik W.; Wehby, Joseph H.
Exceptional Children, Vol. 69, No. 4, Summer 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
A Model for Early Detection and Primary Prevention of Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
Forness, Steven R.; Serna, Loretta A.; Nielsen, Elizabeth; Lambros, Katina; Hale, Mary Johnell; Kavale, Kenneth A.
Education & Treatment of Children, Vol. 23, No. 3, August 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
How We Prevent the Prevention of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Kauffmann, James M.
Exceptional Children, Vol. 65, No. 4, Summer 1999
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Early Intervention with Children at Risk of Emotional/behavioral Disorders: A Critical Examination of Research Methodology and Practices
Hester, Peggy P.; Baltodano, Heather M.; Gable, Robert M.; Tonelson, Stephen W.; Hendrickson, Jo M.
Education & Treatment of Children, Vol. 26, No. 4, November 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Work-Family Fit: Voices of Parents of Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Rosenzweig, Julie M.; Brennan, Eileen M.; Ogilvie, A. Myrth.
Social Work, Vol. 47, No. 4, October 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Social Work with Children and Their Families: Pragmatic Foundations
Christopher G. Petr.
Oxford University Press, 2003 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Social Work with Children and Families in Children's Mental Health Settings"
Developmental Perspectives on Children with High-Incidence Disabilities
Ronald Gallimore; Lucinda P. Bernheimer; Donald L. MacMillan; Deborah L. Speece; Sharon Vaughn.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Identifying Children at Risk for Antisocial Behavior: The Case for Comorbidity"
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