Who is Identified as Emotionally/Behaviorally Disordered?
Each of us can close our eyes and form a picture of "learners identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered." We may imagine the bully who taunted us in the fourth grade, the sad sophomore who attempted suicide, or the hyperactive first grader who was always in trouble in the classroom for not sitting still or not doing his work. The vignettes presented at the beginning of this chapter demonstrate the diversity that exists among learners identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered and their presenting behaviors.
In this article, some of the common characteristics of learners identified as emotionally/behaviorally disorders are described. Although there are some similarities between learners identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered, individuals within this group vary a great deal. The reader is encouraged to focus attention on the diversity between learners identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered.
They Are More Likely To Be Boys than Girls
Four times as many boys as girls are identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered. (Singth, Landrum, Donatelli, Hampton, & Ellis, 1994; Wagner et al., 1991). In a large national sample of adolescents identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered, only 21% were female (Cullinan, Epstein, & Sabornie, 1992). Boys far outnumbered girls among learners identified and served as emotionally/behaviorally disordered in public school programs and among learners both identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered in public schools and receiving mental health services outside of the schools (Caseau, Luckasson, & Kroth, 1994).
Girls outnumbered boys, however, among learners not identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered by the public schools but receiving mental health services outside of the school (Caseau et al., 1994). It appears that. compared to boys, girls were more likely to have serious problems with depression, family conflict, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Apparently, these girls had problems severe enough to warrant identification as emotionally/behaviorally disordered at home and in the community, but not of the type that would warrant such identification at school. The girls who did receive services in public schools exhibited acting out behaviors similar to those of boys.
The long-term postschool outcomes of girls and boys identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered also differ. Levine and Edgar (1995) reported that becoming pregnant and parenting were serious problems confronting girls. Girls with disabilities are five times more likely than their counterparts without disabilities to be parenting. Parenting had a significant impact on the ability of girls to participate in postsecondary education programs.
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