A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance: An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. It is estimated that 1 in 5 children and adolescents may have a mental health disorder that can be identified and require treatment. Some disorders are more common than others and conditions range from mild to severe. A child often has more than one disorder. Biology Genetics Chemical Imbalances in the Body Damage to the central nervous system Brain injury Environment Exposure to violence Extreme stress Loss of an important person Family – The relationship children have with their parents, particularly during the early years, is critical to the way they learn to act. Interactions between parents and their child influences the child's opinions, behaviors, and emotions. One factor associated with emotional problems is child abuse. Child abuse may result in poor impulse control and poor self-concepts. Aggression and anger are often noticed in children who have been abused. Anxiety Disorders Severe Depression Bipolar Disorder Conduct Disorder Eating Disorders Schizophrenia Most common of childhood disorders Signs: Phobias of objects or situations Patterns of excessive, unrealistic worry that cannot be attributed to any recent experience Panic disorder which causes ‘panic attacks’ that includes physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat and dizziness. Obsessive-compulsive disorder causes children to become trapped in a pattern of repeated thoughts or behaviors Post-traumatic stress disorder – causes a pattern of flashbacks and other symptoms which occurs to children who have experienced a psychologically distressing event, such as abuse, being a victim or witness of violence, or being exposed to war or natural disasters Team with parents to develop strategies Encourage completion of activities and assignments Allow extra time Develop and follow a regular classroom routine Write schedule on the board so there are no surprises Can occur at any age Studies show that 2 of every 100 children may have major depression and 8 of every 100 adolescents may be affected. Signs: Children often feel sad, cry, or feel worthless Lost interest in play activities and schoolwork declines Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns; vague physical complaints Believe they are ugly, unable to do anything right, or that the world or their life is hopeless All of these symptoms could easily lead to suicide as well. Develop a relationship with the student Do not be critical; give extra support and encouragement when needed Make adjustments in assignments and tasks when necessary Provide extra opportunities for success Seek extra help from support personnel, if necessary Demonstrate exaggerated mood swings that range from extreme highs (excitement) to extreme lows (depression). Periods of moderate mood occur in between the extreme highs and lows. During their high extreme, students may talk nonstop, need very little sleep, and show unusually poor judgment. During their low extreme, students will undergo severe depression Minimize surprises throughout the day Eliminate distractions and chaos in the classroom Keep variety in the lessons Help organize the student Allow breaks when needed Give permission to go see a counselor when experiencing difficulty The offenses students commit around this disorder often grow more serious over time These offenses include: lying, theft, aggression, truancy, the setting of fires, and vandalism Students have little concern for others The repeatedly violate the basic rights of others and the rules of society They act out their feelings or impulses in destructive ways Avoid giving ultimatums – use options instead Do not touch the students Consider a work experience program Develop a plan ahead of time in case of a rage-full experience Don’t carry a grudge against the student; be able to start over Select materials that are relevant to their lives This occurs to children and adolescents who are intensely afraid of gaining weight and do NOT believe they are underweight. This can be life threatening. The two most common are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Children with anorexia nervosa have difficulty maintaining a healthy body weight. Children with bulimia nervosa feel compelled to binge and rid the food from their bodies by vomiting, abusing laxatives, taking enemas, or exercising obsessively. An impulsive focus on healthy food and nutrition Avoiding fat and being extremely picky in the food he/she eats Starting diets to lose weight or become “healthier” Skipping meals Lying about the foods they’ve eaten and how much they’ve eaten Worrying about their weight or being dissatisfied with how they look Significant weight loss Dizziness and fainting Being cold all the time Having constant stomach problems Avoid negative attention to their weight, body image, or eating disorder Help the student to set realistic goals Be flexible with tests and classroom assignments Encourage a supportive classroom environment Never force a student to participate in a group activity Young people have psychotic periods that may involve: Hallucinations withdrawal from others loss of contact with reality Other symptoms include: Delusional or disordered thoughts Inability to experience pleasure Lack of trust Problems completing tasks Depression Break down tasks into smaller pieces Try to avoid sensory overload Give short, concise directions Negotiate attendance if necessary Alternative assignments Allow breaks Be accepting, caring, and supportive “Children’s Mental Health Facts”. National Mental Health Information Center, <http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/CA -0006/default.asp>. 2 Nov. 2009. This website is a component of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Mental Health Information Center. It provides information on different emotional and behavioral disorders. It provides services for the families of the mentally disabled. Henry, Lori. “Eating Disorder Symptoms and Warning Signs” Suite101, <http://eatingdisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/eating_ disorder_symptoms>. 8 Oct. 2007. 2 Nov. 2009. This website is an article database which contains over 400 topics of different information from various skilled writers. This website gives articles describing the different disorders along with their symptoms.