Childhood Psychological Disorders: Current Controversies

By Alberto M. Bursztyn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
When Schools Fail: Alternative
Therapeutic and Educational Settings
for Youths with Severe Emotional and
Behavioral Challenges

Jennifer Foster

Maria is a 10-year-old girl whose family has a history of domestic violence and strife; child protective services have been involved with the family on numerous occasions. At the age of seven, Maria and her siblings were removed from her biological mother’s custody as a result of substantiated educational, mental, and medical neglect. Allegations of sexual abuse were noted at the time but were not confirmed. Upon removal form her mother’s care, Maria and her siblings were initially placed with their father. However, all three children were removed from their father’s custody six months later due to further neglect and were placed into three separate foster-care homes.

Maria lived with a foster family, where she attended elementary school and participated in a general education program with academic supports in basic-skills reading, language arts, and math. As part of her placement in foster care, child protective services arranged for both psychological and psychiatric evaluations. Results from these evaluations indicated that Maria had an adjustment disorder with anxiety, mild intellectual disability, and a learning disorder. In addition, it was reported that Maria was struggling to cope with her removal from her home, disruption of the family, and exposure to mental/emotional and physical neglect. Approximately six months later, an initial school-based evaluation found Maria eligible for special education and related services. Assessment results from the evaluation indicated that Maria’s overall cognitive abilities were in the lowaverage range, with academic abilities in the average range in reading, math, and written language. A speech and language evaluation indicated delays in language development; behavior and personality assessment results suggested higher than average levels of hyperactivity, oppositional

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