PART I The Role of Schools in Addressing Mental Health and Learning Disorders
The Changing Nature of Special Education
Assessing Student Needs
Effective Classroom Policies and Procedures
Effective Teaching Strategies for Meeting Diverse Student Needs
Establishing a Safe and Caring Classroom
Building Social Skills in Students
PART II Mental Health and Learning Disorders
Terms Used in This Book
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the United States. Children affected by these disorders experience extreme and persistent fears and worries that significantly interfere with their ability to function academically, socially, and emotionally.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is a condition in which children experience excessive worry about many aspects of life. These children may feel anxiety even when there is no objective reason to be worried.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is an anxiety disorder that includes unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions), repetitive behaviors (compulsions), or a combination of both. Children may demonstrate seemingly odd behaviors to diminish their internal anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Sometimes referred to as Social Phobia, SAD occurs in both social and performance settings. Children become very anxious in these situations because they fear they will embarrass themselves or be judged critically.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD may follow traumatic events in which a person faced the threat of possible death or serious injury. Children may continue to feel intense fear and helplessness as they relive their experience long after the event has occurred.
Panic attacks are sudden, intense experiences of fear and physical symptoms, such as a rapid heart beat. When children develop ongoing anxiety about having more attacks and change their behavior to avoid attacks, they may have developed Panic Disorder.
School refusal is not a mental health disorder. Students can be afraid or unwilling to attend school for many reasons. Mental health disorders, including Separation Anxiety Disorder, can be a reason for school refusal.
People with mood disorders experience persistent disturbances in their emotions. Emotional changes can range from excessive sadness to unrealistic elation. These mood changes interfere with a child’s abilities in school, at home, and in social situations.
Children with Depressive Disorders experience an ongoing unhappy mood, a loss of interest in their usual activities, or a combination of both. These disorders negatively affect a child’s ability to enjoy life and participate in activities at home, in school, and with friends. Serious depression is the most common cause of suicide.
Formerly called manic-depression, Bipolar Disorder is characterized by episodes that cycle between depression, irritability, and elation. There are times when these children might be explosive and other times when they may be overly silly.
Communication disorders, sometimes referred to as speech/language disorders, interferewith the ability to speak clearly, to use language to express thoughts, and to understand others. These disorders can have significant negative effects on children’s academic and social functioning.
An Articulation Disorder exists when sounds in speech are omitted, distorted, or substituted. This disorder is most common in young children.
Receptive and Expressive Language Disorders
A Receptive Language Disorder is characterized by difficulty understanding language used by others. An Expressive Language Disorder involves difficulty expressing thoughts and ideas. These disorders contribute to learning problems as well as to social difficulties.
Stuttering involves hesitation or repetition of sounds while speaking. Students may be very self-conscious and exhibit a strong reluctance to speak in class and to other students.
Pragmatic Language Disorder
Also called social communication disorder, this disorder involves difficulties understanding the appropriate thing to say and how and when to say it. Often observed in children with high-functioning autistic disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Nonverbal Learning Disability, this disorder creates significant social and academic problems.
Learning disabilities refer to difficulties learning academic skills of reading, writing, or math. Neurological in origin, these disabilities are not caused by low intelligence or inadequate education.
Dyslexia is a specific reading disability characterized by difficulties learning to sound out and easily read words. Other reading disabilities can involve comprehension and reading speed. A reading disability will negatively affect every aspect of a student’s academic work.
Math disability is the term used to describe significant difficulty with arithmetic calculation or math reasoning. These students may be very proficient in their reading and writing skills but underachieve in math.
Writing disability can refer to problems with handwriting or the ability to express ideas in writing. Either of these difficulties can cause problems for students in school.
Nonverbal Learning Disability (NVLD)
Nonverbal Learning Disability is a neurologically based condition caused by abnormalities in the right hemisphere of the brain. These children have poor motor skills, visual-spatial organization, and social skills.
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD)
ADHD is marked by problems sustaining attention to tasks or schoolwork and can occur with or without impulsivity and hyperactivity. This disorder can have a mild to severe effect on a student’s work and behavior in and out of school.
DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR DISORDERS
Disruptive behavior disorders include Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD). Children who have ODD are excessively defiant, angry, and disobedient. Students with CD show more severe behaviors that include aggression, destruction of property, and serious rule and law violations. These students often require constant monitoring and mayseem to act without regard for society (or classroom) norms and expectations.
Asperger’s Syndrome affects students due to problems with social interaction and repetitive behaviors, and preoccupation with unusual areas of interest. Students’ social relationships and academic work are negatively impacted.
Tic disorders are caused by neurologically based involuntary, repetitive muscle movements or sounds. Tics may be exhibited as noises or physical gestures that range from simple to very elaborate. Tics can cause students to draw negative attention and teasing from other children.
Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. Primarily affecting adolescents, these conditions are associated with a negative body image and unhealthy attitudes and behaviors toward eating. Behaviors may include starvation, binging, or purging. In their most severe form, eating disorders can be fatal.
Self-injury includes cutting, burning, and other acts of self-mutilation. These behaviors are exhibited in a compulsive and repetitive manner and are increasing among adolescents. Suicide attempts are the most serious form of self-harm.
A Final Word
About the Author