Emotional Behavior Disorder: Its Many Challenges
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Students with emotional behavior disorders (EBD) represent those whose didactic achievement is affected by some form of inappropriate behavior (Falk, Lane, Wehby, 2003). According to Kauffman, Landrum and Tankersley, (2003) students tend to depict high rates of inapt behavior and low rates of positive behavior as well as difficulties with academics that may be related to their behavioral extremities. They may also exhibit difficulties in social relationships with peers and adults. Nevertheless, Cushing, Dunlap and Fox (2002) suggest that early intervention can result in positive outcomes for children exhibiting challenging behavior.
Students with EBD frequently disrupt the classroom with negative behaviors. This behavior has been said to interfere with classroom instruction, thus leaving the educator to spend more time correcting the behavior and less time on teaching (Falk et.al. 2003). “More recent evidence has revealed that teachers in self-contained classrooms for students with EBD devote only 30% of the school day to actual academic instruction” (Wehby, 2003).
According to Falk et al (2003) learning environments for students with EBD lack various components necessary for those students to succeed. Findings suggest that these classrooms maintain a lack of praise, low expectancy of educational demands and high rates of reprimands. It is also suggested that the negative behaviors depicted by students with EBD influence the behavior of the educators thus affecting the academic setting as a whole. When students consistently respond to instruction with noncompliant behaviors, over a period of time, the teacher may provide less instruction.
Many teachers are also ill-prepared to deal with behavior and instructional modifications for students with EBD, partially due to the lack of preservice training. Most of the attention in preservice training is motivated toward behavioral modifications with less emphasis on instructional practices of students with EBD (Falk et al. 2003). A report from Westat Research Corporation stated that “up to 16% of teachers who serve primarily students with EBD are not certified in this area” (2002). According to Kauffman et. al. (2003) direct instruction has the most evidence of enhancing the academic success of learners who are struggling. Direct instruction includes structure, proper pacing of instruction, sequencing, stipulations of corrective advice and the opportunity to practice new skills.
Lack of research concerning the academic needs of students with EBD is extremely perplexing. Students with EBD have moderate to severe academic deficits compared to their general education peers and maintain some of the same learning deficiencies as students with learning disabilities (LD). Thus, it is important that researchers develop a curriculum to enhance the instructional methods in order for educators to properly educate these children (Falk et. al 2003).
Kauffman et al. (2003) believe that many behavioral procedures are not implemented correctly, thus leading to the conclusion that the procedures do not work. Two methods they suggest to increase the compliance of students with EBD include: precision requests which involve delivering directions in a predictable order with reinforcement and punishment (consequences) and time-out; the second is a behavioral momentum involving high-compliance directives with low-compliance directives.
Teachers can alter consequences through positive reinforcement using praise when appropriate behavior is observed. Punishment is another consequence that reduces behavior. Due to its focus surrounding negative behavior and its reduction, it continues to be a source of controversy. However, it is sometimes necessary with students exhibiting EBD because they need more that one technique to aid them with behavior progression. Two punishment techniques include time-out and response cost. In time-out a student loses the privilege of positive reinforcement from negative behavior. Response cost is when a privilege is removed due to inappropriate behavior (e.g. losing
a point that he/she received earlier that day) Kauffman et. al. 2003.
Kauffman et al. (2003) suggest that Classwide Peer Tutoring and Reciprocal Peer Tutoring have also been beneficial with increasing EBD students instructional engagement and rates of responding. These techniques involve peer tutoring formats and are based on strengthening principles of group-oriented incidents. Students with EBD must also learn how to practice self-monitoring, “referring to a set of interventions that involve teaching students systematic procedures for observing, evaluating and recording their own behavior during specific times.” Finally, the continuous monitoring of student performance serves to modify, evaluate and use constant replicated measures of specific behaviors.
Social skills interventions for students with EBD have not depicted promising results. Kauffman et al (2003) argues that social skills interventions must be based on several individual specific behaviors including promoting skill attainment, improving skill performance, removing challenging problem behaviors and aiding simplifications. However, interventions that are most acceptable to teachers and likely to be implemented with integrity include those that are easy to employ, not ill-timed, positive, teacher effective, and compatible with the circumstance in which the intervention will be used (Kauffman et. al 2003).
According to Cushing et. al. (2002) family hardships are a significant factor in troubled behavior in young children. An environment lacking parental affection and openness, restriction guideline problems, poor disciplinary styles and insufficient positive interactions all relate to childrens aggressive, defiant and antagonizing behaviors. Behavioral problems depicted by children can lead to high levels of stress for the entire family which affects effective parenting, resulting in isolation from events, activities and various places within the community.
Kauffman et. al (2003) found that most children have a lengthy history of complex behavior by the time special education services are rendered, thus leading them towards