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Read the text. Describing the characteristics of children and youths with emotional or behavioral disorders is an extraordinary challenge because disorders of emotions and




Describing the characteristics of children and youths with emotional or behavioral disorders is an extraordinary challenge because disorders of emotions and behaviors are extremely varied. Remember that individuals may vary markedly in intelligence, achievement, life circumstances, and emotional and behavioral characteristics.

The idea that children and youths with emotional or behavioral disorders tend to be particularly bright is a myth. Research clearly shows that the average student with an emotional or behavioral disorder has an IQ in the dull-normal range (around 90) and that relatively few score above the bright-normal range. Compared to the normal distribution of intelligence, more children with emotional or behavioral disorders fall into the ranges of slow learner and mild mental retardation. Of course, we have been referring to children with emotional or behavioral disorders as a group. Some children who have emotional or behavioral disorders are extremely bright and score very high on intelligence tests. We caution, too, that intensive early behavioral intervention may reveal cognitive abilities that have not been apparent.

There are pitfalls in assessing the intellectual characteristics of a group of children by examining the distribution of their IQs. Intelligence tests are not perfect instruments for measuring what we mean by intelligence, and it can be argued that emotional or behavioral difficulties might prevent children from scoring as high as they are capable of scoring. Still, the lower-than-normal IQs for these students do indicate lower ability to perform tasks that other students perform successfully, and the lower scores are consistent with impairment, in other areas of functioning (e.g., academic achievement and social skills). IQ is a relatively good predictor of how far a student will progress academically and socially, even in cases of severe disorders.

Most students with emotional or behavioral disorders are also underachieves at school, as measured by standardized tests. A student with an emotional or behavioral disorder does not usually achieve at the level expected for his or her mental age; seldom are such students academically advanced. In fact, many students with severe disorders lack basic reading and arithmetic skills, and the few who seem to be competent in reading or math are often unable to apply their skills to everyday problems.

There are two major dimensions of disordered behavior based on analyses of behavior ratings: externalizing and internalizing. The externalizing dimension is characterized by aggressive, acting-out behavior; the internalizing dimension is characterized by anxious, withdrawn behavior and depression. Our discussion here focuses on these two types.

A given student might, at different times, show both aggressive and withdrawn or depressed behaviors. Remember that most students with emotional or behavioral disorders have multiple problems. At the be-ginning of this chapter, we said that most students with emotional or behavioral disorders are not well liked or identify with deviant peers. Studies of the social status of students in regular elementary and secondary classrooms indicate that those who are identified as having emotional or behavioral disorders may be socially rejected. Early peer rejection and aggressive behavior place a child at high risk for later social and emotional problems . Many aggressive students who are not rejected affiliate primarily with others who are aggressive. The relationship between emotional or behavioral disorders and communication disorders is increasingly clear. Many children and youths with emotional or behavioral disorders have great difficulty in understanding and using language in social circumstances.

As we noted earlier, conduct disorder is the most common problem exhibited by students with emotional or behavioral disorders. Hitting, fighting, teasing, yelling, refusing to comply with requests, crying, destructiveness, vandalism, extortion—these behaviors, if exhibited often, are very likely to earn a child or youth the label "disturbed." Normal children cry, scream, hit, fight, become negative, and do almost everything else children with emotional or behavioral disorders do, but not as impulsively and not as often. Youngsters of the type we are discussing here drive adults to distraction. These youths are not popular with their peers either, unless they are socialized delinquents who do not offend their delinquent friends. They typically do not respond quickly and positively to well-meaning adults who care about them and try to be helpful. The Some of these students are considered to have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or brain injury. Their behavior not only is extremely troublesome, but also appears to be resistant to change through typical discipline. Often, these children are so frequently scolded and disciplined that punishment means little or nothing to them. Because of adult exasperation and their own deviousness, these youths get away with misbehavior a lot of the time. These are children who behave horribly not once in a while, but so often that the people they must live with or be with cannot stand them. Of course, aggressive, acting-out children typically cannot stand the people they have to live and be with either, and often for good reason. Such children are screamed at, criticized, and punished a lot. The problem, then, is not just the individual children's behavior. What must be examined if the child or anyone else is to be helped is the interaction between the child's behavior and the behavior of other people in her or his environment.

Children learn many aggressive behaviors by observing parents, siblings, playmates, and people portrayed on television and in movies. Individuals who model aggression are more likely to be imitated if they are high in social status and are observed to receive rewards and escape punishment for their aggression, especially if they experience no unpleasant consequences or obtain rewards by overcoming their victims. If children are placed in unpleasant situations and they cannot escape from the unpleasantness or obtain rewards except by aggression, they are more likely to be aggressive, especially if this behavior is tolerated or encouraged by others. Aggression is encouraged by external rewards (social status, power, suffering of the victim, obtaining desired items), vicarious rewards (seeing others obtain desirable consequences for their aggression), and self-reinforcement (self-congratulation or enhancement of self-image). If children can justify aggression in their own minds (by comparison to the behaviors of others or by dehumanizing their victims), they are more likely to be aggressive. Punishment can actually increase aggression under some circumstances: when it is inconsistent or delayed, when there is no positive alternative to the punished behavior, when it provides an example of aggression, or when counterattack against the punisher seems likely to be successful.

Teaching aggressive children to be less so is no simple matter, but social learning theory and behavioral research do provide some general guidelines. In general, research does not support the notion that it is wise to let children act out their aggression freely. The most helpful techniques include providing examples (models) of nonaggressive responses to aggression-provoking circumstances, helping the child rehearse or role-play nonaggressive behavior, providing reinforcement for nonaggressive behavior, preventing the child from obtaining positive consequences for aggression, and punishing aggression in ways that involve as little counter aggression as possible (e.g., using time-out or brief social isolation rather than spanking or yelling).

The seriousness of children's aggressive, acting-out behavior should not be underestimated. It was believed for decades that although these children cause a lot of trouble, they are not as seriously disabled as are children who are shy and anxious. Research has exploded this myth. When combined with school failure, aggressive, antisocial behavior in childhood generally means a gloomy future in terms of social adjustment and mental health, especially for boys . Shy, anxious children are much more likely to be able to get and hold jobs, overcome their emotional problems, and stay out of jails and mental hospitals than are adults who had conduct problems and were delinquent as children. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Nonetheless, there is a high probability that the aggressive child who is a failure in school will become more of a social misfit as an adult than will the withdrawn child. When we consider that conduct disorders and delinquency are highly correlated with school failure, the importance of meeting the needs of acting-out and underachieving children is obvious (Kauffman, 2005a; Walker et al., 2004).

In noting the seriousness of aggressive, acting-out behavior, we do not intend to downplay the disabling nature of immaturity and withdrawal or depression. Such disorders not only have serious consequences for individuals in their childhood years, but also carry a very poor prognosis for adult mental health. The child whose behavior fits a pattern of extreme immaturity and withdrawal or depression cannot develop the close and satisfying human relationships that characterize normal development. Such a child will find it difficult to meet the pressures and demands of everyday life. The school environment is the one in which anxious and withdrawn adolescents in particular experience the most distress. All children exhibit immature behavior and act withdrawn or feel sad once in a while. Children who fit the withdrawn or depressed description, however, might be reluctant to interact with other people. They are often social isolates who have few friends, seldom play with children their own age, and lack the social skills necessary to have fun. Some retreat into fantasy or daydreaming; some develop fears that are completely out of proportion to the circumstances; some complain constantly of little aches and pains and let their supposed illnesses keep them from participating in normal activities; some regress to earlier stages of development and demand constant help and attention; and some become depressed for no apparent reason.

As in the case of aggressive, acting-out behavior, withdrawal and depression can be interpreted in many different ways. Proponents of the psychoanalytic approach are likely to see internal conflicts and unconscious motivations as the underlying causes. Behavioral psychologists tend to interpret such problems in terms of failures in social learning; this view is supported by more empirical research data than other views. A social learning analysis attributes withdrawal and immaturity to an inadequate environment. Causal factors may include over restrictive parental discipline, punishment for appropriate social responses, reward for isolated behavior, lack of opportunity to learn-and practice social skills, and models (examples) of inappropriate behavior. Immature or withdrawn children can be taught the skills they lack by arranging opportunities for them to learn and practice appropriate responses, showing models engaging in appropriate behavior, and providing rewards for improved behavior.

A particularly important aspect of immature, withdrawn behavior is depression. Only recently have mental health workers and special educators begun to realize that depression is a widespread and serious problem among children and adolescents. Today, the consensus of psychologists is that the nature of depression in children and youths is quite similar in many respects to that of depression in adults. The indications of depression include disturbances of mood or feelings, inability to think or concentrate, lack of motivation, and decreased physical well-being. A depressed child or youth might act sad, lonely, and apathetic; exhibit low self-esteem, excessive guilt, and pervasive pessimism; avoid tasks and social experiences; and/or have physical complaints or problems in sleeping, eating, or eliminating. Sometimes depression is accompanied by such problems as bed-wetting (nocturnal enuresis), fecal soiling (encopresis), extreme fear of or refusal to go to school, failure in school, or talk of suicide or suicide attempts. Depression also frequently occurs in combination with conduct disorder.

Suicide increased dramatically during the 1970s and 1980s among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and is now among the leading causes of death in this age group. Depression, especially when severe and accompanied by a sense of hopelessness, is linked to suicide and suicide attempts. Therefore, it is important for all chose who work with young people to be able to recognize the signs. Substance abuse is also a major problem among children and teenagers and may be related to depression.

Depression sometimes has a biological cause, and antidepressant medications have at times been successful in helping depressed children and youths to overcome their problems. In many cases, however, no biological cause can be found. Depression can also be caused by environmental or psychological factors, such as the death of a loved one, separation of one's parents, school failure, rejection by one's peers, or a chaotic and punitive home environment. Consider the boy's experience in the following account: One terrible morning at my house, my mother woke up next to my father, who had died in his sleep. It was Dec. 5, 1989, the day before my fourth birthday....My dad's death hit us hard. My mother was left alone with two energetic little boys. She tried to be cheerful, but I knew she was crying every night, and 1 ached to be the man of the house. Within a few years, I had plunged into a massive depression. I didn't want to live. I couldn't get out of bed, and I stopped eating and playing. A couple of hospitalizations and a long recovery awaited me.

Often, just having someone with whom to build a close relationship—in the case just described, a "big brother" volunteer—can be an important key in recovery from depression. Also, interventions based on social learning theory—instructing children and youths in social interaction skills and self-control techniques and teaching them to view themselves more positively, for example—have often been successful in such cases.

 

III. 1. Answer the questions:

1) What does it mean to be a teacher of students with emotional or behavioral disorders?

2) What is the prevalence of emotional or behavioral disorders?

3) What are the causes of emotional or behavioral disorders?

5) How are emotional or behavioral disorders identified?

6) What is your opinion to where children with emotional or behavioral disorders should be taught?

 

2. Make the plan of the text. Here are the titles in the wrong order. Make the order correct:

1) Social and Emotional Characteristics

2) Intelligence and Achievement

3) Immature, Withdrawn Behavior and Depression

4) Aggressive, Acting-Out Behavior

 

3. Say whether the following statements are true or false:

1) Emotional or behavioral disorders can be divided into three groups that are characterized by externalizing behaviors, internalizing behaviors, low incidence disorders.

2) Children who have had neuropsychological or psycho-educational testing have a distinct advantage in planning an optimal educational program.

3) Most students with emotional or behavioral disorders are also underachieves at school

4) Children can’t learn many aggressive behaviors by observing parents, siblings, playmates, and people portrayed on television and in movies.

5) Depression can also be caused by environmental or psychological factors, such as the death of a loved one, separation of one's parents, school failure, rejection by one's peers, or a chaotic and punitive home environment.

 

4. Find the synonymous words in the text:

- evident,

- unsociable;

- to blackmail;

- anger, irritation;

- hard;

- internal communications,

- supporter;

- suicide raid.

 


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