Emotional Disturbance



What is Emotional Disturbance?
According to IDEA ’04, Emotional Disturbance is described as “…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:
  • An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
  • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
  • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
  • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
  • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

The term “emotional disturbance” can be thought of as an umbrella, housing a number of specific conditions such as anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, conduct disorders, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and psychotic disorders. Within any of these specific conditions or under the general umbrella of emotional disturbance, children can display a plethora of characteristics including hyperactivity, aggression, withdrawal, immaturity, and learning difficulties. (1)

Helpful Books for Emotional Disturbances/Annotated Bibliography
Algozzine, R., & Ysseldyke, J. E. (2006). Teaching students with emotional
disturbance: a practical guide for every teacher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Press.“Teaching Students With Emotional Disturbance: A Practical Guide for
Every Teacher (A Practical Approachto Special Education for Every Teacher)”teaches readers how to recognize characteristics of students with emotional
disturbance and provides insights on how to respond to these typesof behaviors.
Clough, P. (2005). Handbook of emotional & behavioural difficulties. London: Sage.
“Handbook of Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties” is a comprehensive handbook
of research based issues in relation to the special education classification of
Emotion and Behavioral Difficulties.
Coleman, M. C. (1996). Emotional and behavioral disorders: theory and practice (3rd ed.).
Needham Heights: Allyn And Bacon.“Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: Theory and
Practice” is a book geared towards teacher but contains general information such asthe history of the field; models of disturbance; identification; assessment; and
internalizing and externalizing disorders for anyone interested in Emotional and
Behavioral Disorders.
Marsh, D. T., & Fristad, M. A. (2002). Handbook of serious emotional disturbance in
children and adolescents. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley. “Handbook of Serious Emotional
Disturbance in Children and Adolescents” serves as a guide to the theory, research, practice, and policy of SED in children. The book focuses on systems of care and mental
health treatments in both schools and the home for children suffering from Serious
Emotional Disturbance.
Mayer, M. J. (2009). Cognitive-behavioral interventions for emotional and behavioral disorders:
school-based practice. New York: Guilford Press.“Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions for
Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: School-Based Practice” focuses on helping studentwith Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in the classroom with science based evidence.
The author explores cognitive-behavioral intervention, school based intervention, and programs
that are specific for children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.
Stewart, S., & Flath, C. (2011). Something's wrong!: kids with emotional disturbance.
Broomall: Mason Crest Publishers. “Something's Wrong! Kids with Emotional Disturbance”
is a relatively new book that targets the parents and families of children with Emotional
Disturbance as the audience to try and help them understand what their child is going through
and how to process and comprehend their behaviors.

*Some more useful resources on Emotional Disturbance:

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities- Emotional Disturbance
Council for Exceptional Children- Behavior Disorders/Emotional Disturbances
Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice
Education.com Emotional Disturbance
Fact Sheets for Families
Emotional Disturbance Overview

Education and Services
Baltimore Multisystemic Therapy
Created by the Office of Youth Violence Prevention in 2007, multisystemic therapy partnered with Baltimore Mental Health Systems, Inc. to provide proven intervention for children facing Serious Emotional Disturbance. As family and community based treatment, the main goal of intervention is to assist clients to function in their “natural settings” such as school to reduce the risk of out of home placements, substance abuse, and arrest/re-arrest. For more information, contact the Office of Youth Violence Prevention at (443)-984-3566 or The Office of Youth Violence Prevention

Coping and Caring Support Group

The Coping and Caring Support Group is sponsored by Maryland Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health and Coping and Caring. The Coping and Caring Support Group is for families of children with Emotional and/or Behavioral challenges and meets the first and third Thursday of every month at the Owen Brown Library, Cradle Rock Way, Columbia, MD. For more information, contact (410)-730-8267.

Equine Therapy equine-therapy_01.jpg

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a program at the Jefferson School in Jefferson Maryland. Horses provide an atmosphere conducive to building new behaviors, responsibility, relationships, and so on. Used to facilitate emotional growth for children with a variety of emotional disturbances, behavioral challenges, etc. the program is short term yet effective. For more information, contact the Jefferson School at (240)-315-0200.

Maryland Coalition Support Groups

Located in Grasonville, MD, this is a support group for “Parents of Easily Frustrated and Explosive Children”. For more information, call (410)-827-4629.

Maryland Therapists Specializing in Emotional Disturbances

This is a link that provides a plethora of therapists in the Baltimore area specializing in Emotional Disturbance. Ranging from family therapies to individual therapies, this website is a helpful resource because the search information can be tailored to fit each individual’s/family’s needs.

Recreational and Community-based Resources


First Tee of Howard County provides golf instruction to those who may not have the opportunity to learn golf skills. Along with golf skills, a student with an emotional behavioral disorder will spend half of their time in a classroom learning life skills as well as golf skills.

First Tee of Howard County

Special Olympics:

The Maryland Special Olympics provides year round training in different Olympic sports, providing physical activities which are important to a student with an emotional behavioral disorder. Physical activities provide practice of control of emotions and impulses.

Maryland Special Olympics

Expressive Arts:

Expressive arts, or performance art, is both academic and therapeutic. Performance art gives a person with an emotional behavioral disorder the task of connecting to the deeper self, to others, to one’s body, to the community and the greater environment.

Performing Arts at the Jefferson School

Therapeutic Outdoor Education:

Outdoor education consists of different activities out in nature whether it is canoeing or rock climbing or something of that nature. Outdoor education provides skill building and leadership to a student with an emotional behavioral disorder.

Occupational Therapy and Life Skills Program

Group Therapy:

Group therapy provides a way for students with emotional behavioral disorders to come together a vent and let go of their worrisome thoughts. It brings together people of similar situations and provides counseling for all of them together.

Baltimore Washington Counseling Center

Local Support Groups and Educational Conferences

*provides a brief description of EBD and ways to support students in the classroom
There are many agencies, support groups, and educational conferences in and around the Baltimore metropolitan area that serve children with emotional disturbances and their families. Many are free of charge, which takes pressure off the families who support their children with everything else.

Advocates for Children and Youth:

Located in Baltimore, the ACY focuses on educational issues and represents children in supervision and expulsion hearings. They strive to identify problems, promote policies
and programs that improve results for Maryland's children in measurable and meaningful ways, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies for the state's children and youth.

Maryland Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health:

With regional offices located all over the state, the coalition is a grassroots organization comprised of families and advocacy groups dedicated to improving services for children with mental health needs and to provide a support network for parents and families.

Villa Maria Residence Family Support Meetings:

Meetings: Support and information for parents of children with emotional disorders; some sessions on special topics for parents
Date and Time: one Tuesday each month 5:45-7:30pm - call for date
Fee: none
Childcare and food provided
Please RSVP by 10am Monday
In-Service Training Room
2300 Dulaney Valley Road Timonium, MD
RSVP - Sue - 410-252-3643 x109
Questions - Bev - 410-704-4116
410-239-8578 (evenings)

The Family Tree ~ Support Group for Parents of Children with Mental Illness:

Sponsoring Agency: NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) Metropolitan Baltimore, Inc.
Meetings: Support and information for parents of children with emotional disorders; some sessions on special topics for parents
Date and Time: 4th Wednesday evening of the month starting August, 2005
Fee: none
This group is exclusively for parents of children with mental illness.
Childcare, courtesy of The Family Tree
The Family Tree
2108 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD
Contact the office to find out more at: 410-435-2600

Helping Hands Parent Support Group:

Meetings: The MD Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health provides monthly support to parents with children having difficulties because of mental health needs. Parents will be able to receive and share information during these meetings. A wide array of information will be available as well as access to a full-time family advocate. If you plan to attend or would like more information, please contact Heidi Rochon at 410.479.4934 or hrochon@boo.net
Date and Time: 4th Thursday of each month from 6:30-8:30pm
Fee: none
Dorcester County Library Meeting Room
303 Gay Street
Cambridge, MD

Funding/Legal Advocacy
To advocate is to publicly support or recommend a particular cause or policy.To advocate for students with Emotional Disturbances, first you must have knowledge of the cause, the conditions and behaviors, services and resources, and funding. Through out reading this wiki, everyone should have a better understanding of what emotional disturbances are, and here is how to help:

For parents of children with emotional disturbances:
Parent Advocates This is a great site for parent to parent advocates. The site goes in to depth about all you need to know about resources and funding available in easy to read format.
For anyone and everyone:
Take Action! What we all can do to heal! The link will take you to a site that talks about some steps you can take to improve the lives of emotionally disturbed children.

*Public Safety Announcement for the Seattle Children's Home (1984)

Parent Support Blog
This blog is for parents and family members of a child or teen with mental or emotional disorders. It is for sharing tips, ideas, stories, research, and commentary on the most challenging parenting job of all–nurturing and caring for a troubled child or teen while nurturing oneself and the rest of the family.

Spiritual Support Through Mind & Body
Yoga offers a practical form of therapy to deal with the problems of abnormal emotional development, so that the child may reach adulthood free from personality disorders. The function of the pineal gland, the importance of balancing the mental and pranic energies, the use of yoga nidra and karma yoga, as well as reduction of family and social pressures – all these factors must be considered in dealing with the disturbed child.
These simple therapeutic practices, used in conjunction with a thorough psychological understanding, point the way to a new, integral approach in treating emotional disturbance.


National Funding This site goes in to detail about funding and financing for people with emotional disturbances. It talks about private and public sectors and what is available for people with EBD that is offered by the federal government.