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Special Education Characteristics, Accommodations and Strategies

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Emotionally Disturbed



“…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 –

  1. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
  2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
  3. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
  4. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
  5. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.” [Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Section 300.7(b)(9)]


  1. Aggressive/acting-out behaviors
  2. Social problems
  3. Inadequate peer relationships
  4. Hyperactivity/distractibility
  5. Academic deficits
  6. Anxiety
  7. Depression
  8. Lying, cheating and/or stealing
  9. Mood swings
  10. Withdrawn
  11. Suicidal thoughts


  1. Physical accommodations
  2. Assistive technology
  3. Peer tutoring
  4. Flexible time
  5. Alternative response format
  6. Advance organizer
  7. Safe place
  8. Mood barometer -- I use a paint strip on the desk, light pink to dark red -- helps child verbalize what he's feeling and come up with ways to get 'back to pink"


  1. Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA)
  2. Social/emotional behavior supports
  3. Social skills instruction
  4. Preventative discipline
  5. Behavior intervention Program (BIP)
  6. Address academic deficits
  7. Social skills instruction
  8. Direct instruction
  9. Provide emotional support (teacher, social worker or other trusted adult)
  10. Allow student to vent when needed
  11. Allow student to escape task if necessary
  12. Use of visuals
  13. Allow for movement during instruction
  14. Interactive learning
  15. Computer programs to build basic math and reading skills


This site was created by Ann Kuehnel who is
a classroom teaching in the
Springfield School District,
Springfield, Illinois.