Emotional disturbance and communication

Gregory J. Benner, J. Ron Nelson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction US public schools provide special education and related services to nearly 500,000 students labelled with emotional disturbance (ED Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004; US Department of Education 2002). However, while less than 1 per cent of school-age students receive special education services for ED as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA; 2004), there are far more children and youth with ED who will go unserved during their educational years. Prevalence estimates suggest that 3–20 per cent of students have ED, with very conservative estimates suggesting 6 per cent (Kauffman 2013). Given that the majority of these students do not receive necessary individualized and specially designed supports for their behavioural challenges, these students have been referred to as the unclaimed children (Knitzer and Olson 1982).The US Department of Education defines ED as at least one social or emotional characteristic exhibited over an extended period of time that adversely affects school performance, including (a) problems with learning or interpersonal relationships; (b) exhibiting inappropriate behaviour under normal circumstances; (c) disorders of affect, such as depression or pervasive unhappiness; or (d) exhibiting fears or physical symptoms in response to school or personal problems. The specific eligibility criteria for services under IDEA (2004: Sec. 300.8(c)(4)) include:(i)… 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Communication Disorders
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781139108683
ISBN (Print)9781107021235
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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