Emotional disability different from mental illness

February 01, 2013 5:00 am


The guest column "Make emotionally disturbed mean no sale" (Jan. 17) is fraught with errors and misconceptions. Children are labeled "Emotionally Disabled" or "ED" for a variety of reasons. This label is assigned based upon specific federally mandated criteria, is only assigned following an evaluation, determination, and agreement by a school team including a school psychologist. The worlds of education, behavioral health, and medicine are different and they are for a reason. The goals and purpose of Special Education are not the same as those of a hospital setting, psychiatrist or residential treatment center.

The author is attempting to argue that an educational diagnosis of ED is similar to a medical diagnosis or psychiatric diagnosis based on criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) and that is simply not true. One of the paramount criteria for Special Education is that there is a disability that adversely impacts learning or access to learning that requires specialized instruction or supports. These criteria are more easily met than diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV.

The author makes the statement that "innocent children deserve protection, too" but then goes on to advocate that we only protect certain children, and apparently not ones with disabilities, or at least the children with ED because they could be dangerous. It was this type of Machiavellian mindset that contributed to the segregation of children with disabilities in the 1970s and 1980s; suggesting that we put all students in special education into separate rooms, at the edge of a school campus for "everyone's safety and learning." The author refers to students with Emotional Disabilities as having "twisted minds" and alludes that they are broken, suggesting that we should fear them, and this is deplorable.

I suspect the individuals the author is truly concerned about are actually explicitly excluded from the ED eligibility criteria, the socially maladjusted. We need to explore ways to assure individuals with mental illness and significant psychiatric disorders have limited access to weapons but full access to mental health services. I believe few would argue with that. However children with Emotional Disabilities in Special Education should not be considered dangerous or feared as the author suggests. The ideas and approaches the author presents are inappropriate. If anything it is beliefs like these that cause families to be more reluctant to seek evaluation for their children so that they can receive access to needed services.

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วันที่โพสต์: 18/02/2556 เวลา 02:36:27