1. Sarah was able to be served under the ED label because she met the IDEA criteria for emotional disturbance. Her inability to learn did not stem from intellectual, sensory, or health factors. She was unable to build and maintain satisfactory relationships with peers or teachers and exhibited inappropriate behavior, all of which match the IDEA criteria for an emotional disturbance.
2. The criteria that caused Sarah to meet the ED label based on CCBD’S specifications include her behavior in class and with her foster family, her anger, her defiance of authority, and her lashing out at adults and classmates.
3. Sarah exhibited several externalizing behaviors, including physically lashing out at adults and classmates, verbally lashing out at adults and classmates, and defying authority. Her internalizing behaviors included feeling sad and angry.
4. The teacher should consider Sarah’s claim that the math work is boring since this could be indicative of why she is having trouble completing the work. The work, however, should not be accelerated until Sarah has been questioned and studied to determine if other factors, such as problems or changes in the home or school environment, are responsible for these feelings.
5. Sarah could be having issues related to hormone fluctuations or to simply being a teenager. After all, it is common for teens to engage in what is referred to as negative “self-determined” behaviors (Carter, Lane, Pierson, & Glaeser, 2006, p. 335). She may also be having problems with peers since these are common at her age. Problems could also be related to her home and family life. Interviews with Sarah, her teachers, and her family members should be conducted to determine the potential causes of Sarah’s behavior.
6. It is not possible yet to know if Sarah’s behavioral contract should be revised. First, the reasons for the changes in her behavior must be determined. If those reasons are not related to anything within her IEP, then no changes need to be made to the IEP. If the reasons are related to her IEP, only then should the IEP be changed. Potentially, Sarah may need stronger consequences for undesirable behaviors and/or different rewards for positive behaviors. She may have simply “outgrown” the rewards she currently receives. It may also be true that her math should be accelerated, but necessary changes can only be determined after careful inquiry.
7. Yes, given Sarah’s age and the fact that her disabilities are emotional and not intellectual, she is capable of offering some insight into her behavior. She has already demonstrated an ability to do so by helping to set goals and rewards for herself (Carter et. al, 2006, p. 337). Sarah should simply be asked if she agrees that her behavior has changed, and, if so, what factors have contributed to those changes. Questions should also be made about the impact of her foster home environment and her relationships with her peers. Sarah should be asked these questions nonconfrontationally and with the understanding that all information provided will be used to help her.
Carter, E.W., Lane, K.L., Pierson, M.R., & Glaeser, B. (2006). Self-determination skill and opportunities of transition-age youth with emotional disturbance and learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 72(3), 333-346. Retrieved from http://journals.cec.sped.org/ec/