There are five broad themes of language and communication due to emotional and behavioural disorders (EBD): co-occurrence of EBD and language deficit; language deficits; antisocial behaviour; untreated and undiagnosed deficits; academic problems as the results of language deficits. The relationship between EBD and communication and language deficits is stable across the years and supports that argument that earlier interventions and identifications are highly crucial. Educators must question the language skills of students who have been diagnosed of EBD. A fast understanding of communication and language deficits may help to prevent long life academic, behavioural and language based issues. In addition to this, communication and language barrier can significantly affect academic progress of students with EBD (Nelson, Benner, & Rogers-Adkinson, 2003).
Benner, Nelson & Epstien, (2002), have examined literature about emotional and behavioural disorders and found that 26 such studies examined the language and communication disorders in students. The authors found that 71% of the students, in the research, had language deficits due to emotional and behavioural disorders. Moreover, they found that 75% of the students, who were diagnosed for EBD, also had communication and language deficits. The research has proposed four significant findings. First, students who have EBD, face more concurrence rates of language deficits and antisocial behaviour. Second, students who have receptive language deficits, face EBD, as compared to students who have expressive language deficits.. Third, students with EBD have ten times more tendency of language deficit than the general population. Fourth, students who have a communication problem due to EBD, can create devastating effect on interpersonal relationships.
Students with emotional and behavioural disorders have been described in several ways. There are labels of formal and informal emotional and behavioural disorders in these students. It is necessary to understand that a number of people with EBD show such behaviour because they are disabled; however, some individuals can show such behaviour due to environmental factors. For instance, a traumatic family event, like death, can cause a reaction that makes others to be concerned. On the other hand, when children feel or behave the way that is due to some internal condition, that is uncontrollable, their emotional behavioural disorder is disability. Some significant factors that may cause emotional and behavioural disorders include:
- Biological factors. For instance, brain dysfunction or damage, genetics, allergies and malnutrition, physical illness or temperament.
- Family factors. For example, family interaction, family structure, influence of family on failure and success in school, and external factors that affect family.
- School factors. For example, ability lack of school personnel to accommodate academic achievements, variable intelligence and social skills.
Feelings about reasons are normal and are experienced by a lot of caregivers and parents. It is crucial to understand these reactions and to avoid secondary problems (Kaufmann, 2001).
There are different causes of EBD. It is particularly beneficial to understand the differences between diagnosis of mental health and physical problems. It has been believed, regarding physical problems, that there is some reason of the problem which is needed to be discovered and then be treated in the best way to cure the problem. For schools, on the other hand, reasons are not more important than the behaviour being exhibited. There is stress on duration, intensity, and impairment level of the behaviour. Diagnosis of EBD is possible at any time in the life of an individual, because emotional problems can arise any time and at any age. Anyone can get emotionally disturb at any stage of his/her life, in the form of severe anger, extreme frustration, and depression. More complex factors, for instance, environment of a student, a psychological problem that is deep rooted, and biophysical imbalances, may cause different behavioural problems and feelings (Rockville, 1999).
There is a direct relationship between EBD and language communication deficits. Writing, reading and math deficits have also been found to occur in students with language deficits and EBD. Moreover, students with language deficits and EBD may have antisocial behaviour (Hyter, 2003). Banner et al (2002) identified, in a study, that most of the students, taken as sample for the study, had co-occurring language deficits. The problem, particularly which is untreated, can bring devastating outcomes for the interpersonal as well as academic life of students. They may have difficulty with starting, maintaining and developing relationships with adults, peers and authority figures. They may not be able to convey their ideas and thoughts, get their requirements be fulfilled, or participate in the environment in a positive way. These students may not be able to complete their assignments, which may lead to academic failure, and an inappropriate social behaviour.
Children who have tendencies of non-compliance can have receptive language deficits, which can reduce their ability to develop compliance with the request and directives. Such language deficits include less understanding of phrases, words, or directions and reduced ability of to process directives, verbal statements, or requests. If they are not able to respond, teachers may perceive such action of students as deliberate and purposeful (Fujiki, et al, 1999).
- Banner, G. J. et al. (2002). Language skills of children with EBD: a literature review. Journal of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, 10, pp. 43-59.
- Fujiki, M. et al. (1999). Withdrawn and sociable behaviour of children with language impairment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools, 30, pp. 183-195.
- Hyter, Y. D. (2003). Language intervention for children with emotional or behavioural disorders. Behavioural Disorders, 29, pp. 65-76.
- Kaufmann, J. M. (2001). Characteristics of emotional and behaviour disorders of children and youth (7th ed). Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.
- Nelson, J. R. Benner, G. J. & Rogers-Adkinson, D. L. (2003). An investigation of the characteristics of K-12 students with co-morbid emotional disturbance and significant language deficits served in public school settings. Behavioural Disorders, 29, pp. 25-33.
- Rockville, M. D. (1999). Mental Health: a report of the surgeon general. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- What are teaching/intervention approaches which are supported by empirical research? From the perspective of which theories or models of language acquisition and language disorders are these approaches supposed to work? Explain.
Programs of language intervention need context for learning the language and ideal situations that may assist the implementation of an effective approach. Interventions, which are routine based, provide the ideal situation for teaching. With the help of enabled routines and contexts, teachers can use responsive interaction, milieu teaching, direct language teaching or direct instruction approaches, in order to promote language learning process in a natural environment. Once the environment of social interaction has been developed, teachers can provide some specific techniques of teaching to acknowledge, model, prompt or reinforce intentional and clear communication attempts within play routines of these children. The techniques are called ‘Pre-linguistic milieu teaching techniques’. On the other hand, Milieu teaching approaches are consisted of particular teaching techniques that are enabled within ongoing activities, social activities and interactions of a child. Incidental teaching procedures and mand-model are two among various techniques of this approach (Warren, McQuarter, & Rogers-Warren, 1984).
Responsive interaction requires the caregiver be extremely responsive to the communication attempts of the child, by following the lead of the child, waiting for his/her initiation, and responding with comments on actions of interest. Direct teaching approach involves reinforcing, prompting and giving feedback on vocabulary and grammatical targets in scripted and structured sessions. Direct teaching and recasting approaches are more suitable for children with minor language and speech disorders (Wilcox & Shannon, 1998).
Most of researchers have addressed the language deficits due to EBD, with a focus on the children residential and institutionalized settings. However, it is possible for teachers to utilize the findings of research to provide basic individualized as well as classroom interventions for students who have language deficits and EBD problems. Laura, et al (2006) have highlighted that students who have emotional and behavioural disorder, are charged with communication skills to be able to communicate with everyone who is related to their academic career, and meet the requirements of team members during academic career. Such responsibility can be particularly overwhelming for students with language deficits and EBD. Interventions, for instance use of the collaborative approach to use research based strategies and teach content, can facilitate the learning process of these students. The problem of language therapy for students, who have language deficits and EBD, has been the main focus of research. However, there is a need for more research into language therapy of students with EBD and language deficits. There are no definitive data available, in order to base the implementation process.
Hyter, et al (2001) has argued that language therapy that is class room based may be helpful for students with language deficit and EBD. Moreover, individual therapy can be helpful to develop language skills in students with EBD, under some specific circumstances. The author has suggested that language therapy for students with language deficits and EBD needs to happen in a more naturalistic environment, in order to help students to use their language skills in day to day situations. The authors have suggested addressing such areas as semantics, syntax, morphology, pragmatics and phonology, in daily environment, to provide students opportunity of making mistakes, be corrected and learn the use of language skills in order to communicate with adults and peers, effectively.
It was emphasised by Hyer, et al. (2001) that there is a need for educators to recognise the fact that students who have emotional and behavioural disorders have higher possibilities of language deficits. On the basis of literature reviewed, rates of prevalence range between 35% - 97%, depending on the definition of language difficulty and placement of students. It was found that students can be influenced in a positive way with the help of pragmatic interventions, which are class based.
Reynolds and Kamphaus (2004) have proposed the behaviour assessment system for students with an age range of 2 – 22 years. The student observation system was proposed by Reynold & Kamphaus (2004), in order to assess the adaptive as well maladaptive behaviour of students with EBD, in the class room. The authors have suggested that training of student observation system is possible to be accomplished in a workshop of 30 minutes, or by reading the manual, however, no particular training criteria has been suggested for training. The authors have recommended the observation of the student across three or four days in various classrooms, in order to develop the measurement reliability. In the proposed system, the observers make notes of teacher and student behaviours for twenty seven seconds, with an interval of each thirty seconds. During last three seconds of each interval, the observer implements a sampling procedure of momentary time to record maladaptive and adaptive behaviours of the target student. The behaviours are coded with the help of four categories that include response to lesson/teacher, peer interaction, completing math worksheet, and transition movements. The authors have mentioned a number of categories that include inappropriate movement, in-attention, inappropriate vocalization, complaints about headache, repetitive motor self injurious behaviour, and aggression etc. At the end of observation session, the observer notes the behaviour of the student on a three point Likert scale. Moreover, the authors have suggested several observations of a student with EBD, in order to achieve more reliable estimate of the student’s behaviour.
Conducting an assessment of behaviour is among the most common methods of measurement for the problem areas of a student with communication and language deficit due to EBD. Though, various assessments can be helpful for information; however, there are three main steps to be undertaken in order to identify the student’s challenges:
- Review the records and other information about the student.
- Interview different people, including teachers and parents.
- Observe the student in various settings.
- Warren, S. F., McQuarter, R. J. & Rogers-Warren, A. K. (1984). The effects of mands and models on the speech of unresponsive language delayed pre-school children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 49(1), pp. 43-52.
- Wilcox, M. J. & Shannon, M. S. (1998). Facilitating the transition from pre-linguistic to linguistic communication. In: Wetherby, A. M. Warren, S. F. & Reichle, J. eds. Transitions in Pre-linguistic Communication. P. H. Books Pub: Baltimore, Md.
- Hyter, Y. D. (2003). Language intervention for children with emotional or behavioural disorders. Behavioural Disorders, 29, pp. 65-76.
- Reynold, C. R. & Kamphaus, R. W. (2004). Behaviour assessment system for children (2nd ed.). American Guidance System Publishing: Circle Pines, MN.
- Which of these approaches could you use or adapt in your own teaching/personal context, for students from these populations, or other populations? Why? If you already use these approaches, please provide comment as to whether the existing research literature is consistent with your own experience.
In the above parts of the research, various approaches to tackle the problem of communication and language deficits in EBD students have been discussed. Students with communication and language deficits are at the risk of emotional, social and behavioural problems. Therefore, early intervention approaches and programs can significantly affect the communication performance of the students with EBD. Different approaches that have been discussed include:
- Pre-linguistic milieu teaching,
- Milieu teaching,
- Responsive interaction approaches, and
- Direct teaching.
The existing research literature, such as Kaufmann (2001) and Hyter, et al (2001), is consistent with teaching experience. For instance, it has been suggested by Hyter, et al. (2001) that language therapy that is based on the class room may be useful for students with language deficit and EBD. Moreover, individual therapy can be useful to develop language skills in students with EBD, under some circumstances. It has been suggested that language therapy for students with language deficits and EBD needs to happen in a more realistic setting, in order to help students to use their language skills in day to day situations.
There is a need for educators to explore the implementation ways of specific education, general education and other programs with different settings. Moreover, a proactive approach may be more useful, than reactive approach, to reduce the difficulties of students with emotional and behavioural disorder. Interventions can assist the collaboration among different professionals to facilitate students’ consistency. Moreover, collaboration of educators can be helpful to develop a comprehensive plan of education for students with EBD and language deficits.
It is valuable to recognize that students with language deficits and EBD do not have the ability to learn the appropriate language through the process of incidental learning. They may feel language difficulty to establish and maintain topics, determine the information that they need to share; determine the amount of information to be shared and with whom to share; and understand the purpose of information. Inability of students, with EBD, to maintain, initiate and develop relationships, can be a result of less pragmatic skills. Use of multiple approach of language development may be beneficial to a significant level. Educators can help students with EBD by teaching them pragmatic, receptive and expressive language skills. Students, who are unable to understand the pragmatics, may be able to understand the role playing or literal explanations that reveal the pragmatic language. It is possible for the social workers, teachers and other teaching professionals to employ different strategies to help students to learn and express information. These strategies include teaching such students the ways of using mnemonic devices, as suggested by Kleinheksel & Summy, (2003), think aloud, as proposed by Forgan (2002), and self monitoring, as suggested by Hoover & Oliver (1996).
In addition, teachers must examine the skills of language and deficits throughout the school time and across the curriculum, in formal as well as informal settings. Until they fully understand the reasons of EBD and language difficulties, teachers may struggle in vain to teach students more effectively.
Although assessment and prevention tools suggested in the literature are helpful, there are weaknesses to in these tools. For instance, Hosp et al (2003) has searched the structure of items on the behaviour that is commonly used, and found that most of the scales included lack of action and negative action questions. None among these actions is useful to assess positive behaviours and to address measureable and observable behaviours. Moreover, it is necessary to note that emotional and behavioural assessments do not need to be used if a student already has problem of autism. Only an emotional and behavioural assessment tools are helpful to identify and measure the problem areas. While using any kind of assessment, there is a need for professionals to complete some basic steps as part of procedure of assessment. These steps include reviewing the information or report of the student; interviewing different people, including the student’s caregivers; and observing behaviour of the student in a systematic way. Observation of the student’s behaviour requires use of formal and informal assessments as mentioned by Barnhill (2001-2002).
There are different views of scholars about the intervention approaches towards communication and language deficits in students with EBD. However, different researchers have a different point of view to follow the steps of assessment and cure. It can be resulted in a discrepancy between school and home and outcome can be invalid. Therefore, for proper assessment and intervention, there is a need for coordination among school and home. I has been suggested and found useful that strategies for students with limited vocabulary to express themselves, have been developed to target the skills which are taken as critical for the significant of expressive language skills in students with EBD.
- Barnhill, G. P. (2001-2002). Behavioural, social and emotional assessments of students with ASD. Assessment of Effective Intervention, 27(1-2), pp. 47-55.
- Kleinheksel, K. A. & Summy, S. E. (2003). Enhancing student learning and social behaviour through mnemonic strategies. Teaching Exceptional Children, 36, pp. 30-35.
- Forgan, J. W. (2002). Using bibliotherapy to teach problem solving. Intervention in school and Clinics, 38, pp. 75- 82.
- Hoover, J. & Oliver, R. (1996). The bullying prevention handbook: a guide for principals, teachers, and counsellors. National Educational Service: Bloomington, IN.