Explore BrainMass

Emotional Disorder Diagnosis

What qualifies as an emotional disorder?
Explain which emotional disorders are most common in children.
How might these emotional disorders impact a child's development and learning?

Solution Preview


These are good questions! Let's take a closer look. I also attached two informative resources, some of which this response is drawn.


1. What qualifies as an emotional disorder?

For special education, emotional disorders are referred to as Emotional Disturbance (ED). Making a case for eligibility based upon Emotional Disturbance (ED) can be a difficult process because the concept is complex and vague. There is no consensus as to the definition of ED. And, one of the major barriers to identification lies in the definition of Emotionally Disturbed (ED). Many children are deemed ineligible because of technicalities in the school definition of ED and a significant number may be misidentified in other categories of special education reserved for children with primary learning or language disorders. However, under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (1975), an emotional disturbance is a condition that has existed over a long period of time, is significant and has an impact on your child's educational performance. Conditions that qualify as an emotional disturbance include one or more of the following:

· inability to learn, not explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors
· inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers
· inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
· general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression, or
· tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems

Source: (attached for convenience)

See DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for childhood disorders at URL:

2. Explain which emotional disorders are most common in children.

Different sources suggest different disorders as being the most common, but in general, depression and anxiety (phobias, separation anxiety, and other) are the most common. The excerpt in the next question expands on these and includes conduct disorder under the heading of emotional disorders e.g. symptoms and implications on development and learning. However, other sources list mental, emotional and behavioral disorders for children and adolescents together. This is because each of these disorders has an emotional component. For example, the attached resource (see Childrens Mental, Emtional and Behavioral Disorders.doc) lists the following disorders under mental, emotional and behavioral disorders and explains each one in some detail: Anxiety Disorders, Severe Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Learning Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Eating Disorders, Autism, and Schizophrenia.

3. How might these emotional disorders impact a child's development and learning?

Research suggests that emotional and social skills is linked to academic standing. Emotional disorders cause emotional disturbances that impact both social development (rejected by peers, aggression, isolation, etc.) and a personal sense of worth and ability (e.g., low self-esteem, feelings of ...

Solution Summary

This solution describes the dignostic criteria that differentiates an emotional disorder from normal behavior. It then explains which emotional disorders.are most common in children and the effects of these emotional disorders on a child's development and learning. Supplemented with two highly informative articles on emotional disorders and how it impacts learning.