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By Lauren McDaniel 22

What is Emotional Disturbance?
The federal definition of “emotional disturbance” is:
(i) Emotional disturbance means 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.


Hyperactivity, short attention span, impulsiveness


Withdrawal from social interactions with peers
and adults

Anxiety and fear

Mood of unhappiness or depression

Learning difficulties

Difficulty maintaining personal relationship

Externalizing and/or internalizing behaviors


Beneficial Instructional Strategies

Increase academic 

Give the student
choices between
classroom tasks

Keep instruction

Work with students
in small groups

Help student set up
personalized goals

Communicate with parents

Keep environment engaging and interesting

Create and use behavior contracts

Give consistent

Create a support system for student including teachers and Classroom Accommodations
 Create a cool off zone in the classroom
Arrange classroom seating to encourage social

Strengths in Children with
Emotional Disturbance


Development of self-control and selfregulation techniques

Educator Resources

Acceptance of other students


Behavioral Disorders


Keeping Parents Involved
It is important to stay connected with parents so that similar strategies and expectations are being used at home and at school.

Hold parent-teacher conferences

E-mail and phone calls

Send notes to and from home