Emotional Disturbance
Image for Emotional Disturbance
Disability Categories Main Page
Additional Pages:
Developmentally Delayed
Emotional Disturbance
Fuctional Delay
Hearing Impairment
Intellectual Disability
Intellectually Gifted
Multiple Disabilities
Orthopedic Impairment
Other Health Impairment
Specific Learning Disabilities
Speech or Language Impairment
Traumatic Brain Injury
Visual Impairment

1. Definition

Emotional Disturbance means a disability exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics to a marked degree and over an extended period of time (during which time documentation of informal assessments and interventions are occurring) that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:

1. inability to learn which cannot be explained by limited school experience, cultural differences, or intellectual, sensory, or health factors;

2. inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and school personnel;

3. inappropriate types of behavior or feelings when no major or unusual stressors are evident;

4. general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression;

5. tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

The term may include other mental health diagnoses. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an Emotional Disturbance. Social maladjustment includes, but is not limited to, substance abuse related behaviors, gang-related behaviors, oppositional defiant behaviors, and/or conduct behavior problems.

2. Evaluation

The characteristics identified in the Emotional Disturbance Definition are present.

Evaluation Procedures

Evaluation of Emotional Disturbance shall include a multifactored evaluation for initial placement that includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) visual or auditory deficits ruled out as the primary cause of atypical behavior(s);

(2) physical conditions ruled out as the primary cause of atypical behavior(s);

(3) specific behavioral data which includes

(a) documentation of previous interventions, and

(b) evaluation of the locus of control of behavior to include internal and external factors;

(4) direct and anecdotal observations over time and across various settings by three or more licensed professionals;

(5) individual assessment of psycho-educational strengths and weaknesses, which include

(a) intelligence, behavior, and personality factors, and

(b) take into account any exceptionality of the individual in the choice of assessment procedures;

Disability Eligibility Standards 9

(6) individual educational assessment (criterion- or norm-referenced) including direct measures of classroom performance to determine the student’s strengths and weaknesses;

(7) review of past educational performance;

(8) comprehensive social history/assessment collected directly from the child’s parent/guardian, custodial guardian, or if necessary, from an individual with intimate knowledge of the child’s circumstances, history, or current behaviors which includes:

(a) family history,

(b) family-social interactions,

(c) developmental history,

(d) medical history (including mental health), and

(e) school history (including attendance and discipline records); and

(9) documentation, including observation and/or assessment, of how Emotional Disturbance adversely impacts the child’s educational performance in his/her learning environment.

Evaluation Participants

Information shall be gathered from the following persons in the evaluation of Emotional Disturbance:

(1) the parent;

(2) the child’s general education classroom teacher(s);

(3) a licensed special education teacher;

(4) a licensed school psychologist, licensed psychologist, licensed psychological examiner (under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist), licensed senior psychological examiner, or licensed psychiatrist; and

(5) other professional personnel (i.e., mental health service providers, and school social workers), as indicated