Theoretical Perspectives

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The usefulness of theoretical perspectives for

providing special education services

Emotional and behaviour disorders represent significant behaviour excesses or deficits. Many labels are used to represent abnormal behaviour; these labels include: emotionally handicapped or disturbed, behaviourally disorder, socially maladjusted, delinquent, mentally ill, psychotic and schizophrenic. Each of these terms refers to patterns of behaviour that are significantly different in degree and/or kind from his/her generally accepted age appropriate, ethnic or cultural norms that they negatively affect educational performance in one or more areas: self-care, social relationships, personal adjustment, academic progress or classroom behaviour. Difficulties must be displayed in multiple environments, one of which must be school.

In recent years "behaviour disorder  has gained favour over "emotionally disturbed  as a more accurate label leading to more objective decision-making and fewer negative connotations.

"Estimates of the number of school age children with emotional or behaviour disorders depend on the definition and criteria that are used. At some point in their lives, most individuals exhibit behaviour that others consider excessive or inappropriate for the circumstances. Thus, frequency, intensity, duration and context must be considered in making judgments of disturbance. Unlike some other educational disabilities, emotional and behavioural disorders are not necessarily lifelong conditions 

(Council for Children with Behaviour Disorders, 1991)

"One frightening aspect of working with children with behaviour disorders is the realization that their behaviour is not unlike our own  (Rhodes, 1967)

Educating children who have emotional or behavioral disorders can be an area of special challenge for general and special educators alike. Identifying and understanding the special learning needs of

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