Friday, October 23, 2020

Severe Behavioral Handicap (SBH)

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A child with a severe behavioral handicap exhibits behavior that interferes with his or her school work and also has extreme difficulty getting along with others. Over the years severe behavioral problems have also been referred to as emotional handicaps or disturbances, social maladjusted delinquency, behavior disorders, conduct disorder or psychological disturbance. Most people agree that these terms describe behavior that is significantly different from what is expected of someone at a particular age. According to the Ohio Department of Education Blue Book, there is an estimated 2 percent incidence rate of children with severe emotional and behavioral problems requiring special intervention.

Causes

To date the cause(s) of severe behavior problems have not been adequately determined. Factors such as hereditary, brain disorder, diet, stress and family functioning have been suggested as possible causes but research has not found any of these factors to be the direct cause of behavior problems.

Characteristics

Some characteristics and behaviors observed of children with a severe behavioral handicap include: hyperactivity (short attention-span), aggressive/self-injurious behavior (acting out/fighting), delinquency, withdrawal (failure to initiate interaction with others, difficulty maintaining friendships, excessive fear, severe school phobia, truancy), immaturity (temper tantrums, poor coping skills, inappropriate crying), and learning problems (deficits in academic achievement). At various times throughout development, most children display some of these behaviors. However, for a child who is identified as having a severe behavioral handicap, these behaviors continue over long periods of time.

What Can Parents Do?

The most important thing parents can do for a child with a severe behavior problem is be consistent and follow through. Parents need to establish a set schedule allowing for very few changes to be made. A child with a severe behavior problem tends to function best in a well structured environment. Like all children, a child with a severe behavior handicap needs to be rewarded for his or her accomplishments and positive behavior. Parents may find that they focus solely on the child’s problem behavior, forgetting to notice the positive behaviors or not rewarding the child for doing something “good.”

Discipline

When disciplining a child with a severe behavior problem, parents need to establish a plan with clear ideas of how they are going to address the problem behavior. Parents should use very few words and do very little talking or discussion about the situation with the child. State clearly the concern about the inappropriate behavior with as few words as possible, then discipline the child appropriately for the situation or behavior observed. Behavior management is one of the most widely used approaches to teaching children with behavioral/emotional disorders. The purpose of this approach is to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease inappropriate behaviors by using various strategies. These strategies include rewarding appropriate behavior, token systems, shaping and modeling behavior, and contracting. When using behavior management strategies, it is most important to be very consistent and follow through with the strategy used. Behavior expectations need to be clearly defined for children with a severe behavioral handicap. Using behavior management requires careful thinking and commitment over a period of time. Behaviors are not changed over night–it requires patience and time. In addition, parents must realize that there will be relapses. Children respond differently to various discipline strategies or techniques. Parents may need to try more than one approach to determine the most effective one for their child. Refer to the Behavior Management Cards for additional information on appropriate discipline techniques for children with severe behavior problems.

Skills Needed

In addition to helping these children develop social skills and increase self control, they need to learn basic self-care skills and to participate in vocational programming during adolescence.

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