Problems of learning and school adaptation of children and adolescents with mental disorders are most urgent in modern social psychiatry. As long as they are not recognized as socially dangerous, children with deviant behavior study in regular schools. If a child has a mental disorder, it is up to the parents to decide whether to disclose their diagnosis or keep the information secret. Nevertheless, it is necessary to understand precisely how such individuals should be educated.
In the article Implementation of Promising Practices that Support Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, several researchers look at possible improvements in systems for adapting and teaching children with mental disorders. The authors point out that such children are capable of learning but with certain adjustments. For example, they emphasize the necessity of creating a bright and cheerful classroom and community environment for the child (Zaheer et al., 2019). In addition, an important goal is to instill the ability to communicate and work as a team with other peers (Zaheer et al., 2019). According to the authors, this will help achieve a quality social adaptation of the individual (Zaheer et al., 2019). Furthermore, professionals who will interact with these children must be proficient in several ways of communication.
As methods, the authors give instructions on how to interact with children with mental disorders. Among them, they emphasize permanent feedback and provide the child the opportunity to make choices and decisions (Zaheer et al., 2019). These techniques are quite effective, which is due to two reasons. First, the child will develop independence and a sense of responsibility for their actions and decisions. Second, some types of mental disorders are prone to aggression. If the individual is listened to, then resentment or anger can be avoided, as understanding the child’s desires will help prevent possible conflicts.
Researchers allocate record keeping and control of behavior as an essential part of work with such children. It means that specialists should take notes and maintain a database where data on the child’s mood, condition, and changes are collected (Zaheer et al., 2019). Finally, writers report that if the necessary conditions are created, children with mental disorders can attend regular educational institutions without harm or risk to their needs or others.
Suggestions for Improving the Methods of the Article
The inclusion of children with mental disabilities in classical schools is an ambiguous criterion. Teachers can be retrained and ready to interact with such people, and the school may have the resources. Analyzing the age of children, it is necessary to emphasize that teenagers make cruel jokes, do not respect personal boundaries, or do not understand the severity of other people’s diseases. Nevertheless, there are alternative effective ways of teaching children with mental disorders.
- The involvement of tutors who specialize in teaching exceptional children. It means that the child can continue to go to a regular school and a regular class, but a specialist is brought in to explain the curriculum there. In addition, in the classes, there is no emphasis on the peculiarities of the child. Often teachers and classmates do not know precisely how to communicate with a particular child – this can manifest itself in misjudgment, conflicts, and resentment, which can only exacerbate the disorder.
- Special schools. These educational institutions are small centers with classes of three or five people with similar types of disorders. If a small group does not suit the child, teachers and tutors lead “one-on-one” lessons.
- Correctional classes in general education schools. A form of differentiation of education used since the 1970s (Farmer et al., 2020). The pluses are that all children can participate equally in many school activities, and also that children study closer to home and are raised in a family.
- Homeschooling is a variant of children’s education. Teachers of public educational institutions or specially hired tutors visit children and conduct lessons directly at their residences. Homeschooling can be conducted by the general or auxiliary program, built by the child’s capabilities (Farmer et al., 2020). Upon completion, the child receives an available school-leaving certificate indicating the program they have studied.
- Distance learning – not all cities have trained teachers, so educational services provided to children at a distance are beginning to spread. Through a webcam and chats, it is possible to keep a child in touch with the distance learning center, conduct tests, surveys (Farmer et al., 2020). In addition, the coronavirus period showed that modern information technology could provide practical training without losing the quality of education.
The above methods will help protect the child from the possible psychological trauma that can cause the promise. Moreover, it does not mean that the child will be completely isolated from society and unprepared for adult life (Farmer et al., 2020). Communication with people will still be present in other areas of life, but it will be more limited and safe. Upon reaching adulthood, these children will learn to cope with illnesses with the help of psychological assistance and medications. Their peers, in turn, will also become more mature, educated, and humane, which will allow them to have painless contact with society.
In addition, it is essential to take a closer look at childhood aggression. Not always angry behavior means a possible mental disorder. To determine the nature of behavioral abnormalities, it is necessary to talk to a specialist with the child. 25% of the more than 1,300 children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 15 surveyed said they start fighting with people when they are upset or anxious (Farmer et al., 2020). An equal number more said they find it hard to do their homework in that state. When the brain feels threatened, real or imagined, it releases hormones and adrenaline to make a person faster and more robust. Every new, complex, or unfamiliar situation is perceived as a potential threat for children with heightened anxiety.
The most frequently reported neuropsychological syndrome is the syndrome of functional deficit of subcortical brain structures. Children with this syndrome are characterized by the immaturity of the emotional sphere, in which emotions do not function as regulators of behavior and interpersonal relationships (Farmer et al., 2020). The adaptive functions of emotions and affective control focus on vital needs and maintaining stereotypical interactions with the environment. At the same time, children can show the following emotional disorders:
- Irritability and aggressive displays;
- Negative emotions;
- The tendency to stereotypical reactions when necessary to adapt to new conditions (Farmer et al., 2020).
These disorders increase against a background of fatigue and exhaustion.
Summarizing all the above, it should be noted that it is important to work with fatigue and exhaustion of the child because this will help prevent attacks of aggression or frustration. If a person has pathologies identified by a specialist, then the recommendations of Promising Practices that Support Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders effectively educate such a child. However, it is essential to understand that having such an individual in a regular school and unprepared class can have negative consequences.
Farmer, T. W., Maureen, A., & Sutherland, K.S. (2020). Handbook of research on emotional and behavioral disorders. Interdisciplinary developmental perspectives on children and youth. Taylor & Francis.
Zaheer, I., Maggin, D., McDaniel, S., McIntosh, K., Rodriguez, B., & Fogt, J. (2019). Implementation of Promising Practices that Support Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 44(2), 117-128. doi: 10.1177/0198742918821331