Emotional Impairment

teenage boy in gray hoodie sitting alone in a hallway head in hands depicting sadness, loneliness, stress, emotion

Emotional impairment is a term which is used to cover many mental and emotional health issues. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) uses the term “emotional disturbance” and defines it as “. . .a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:

(A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.

(B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

(C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

(D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

(E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.”

What do I need to think about for my child’s IEP?

Emotional impairments  is a specific eligibility in The Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE). Students with emotional impairment demonstrate behavioral problems, related to hyperactivity, aggression or self-injury, withdrawal, depression, low self-esteem, immaturity, anxiety, physical complaints, etc., over an extended period of time that negatively affects their ability to learn. Rule 340.1706

Establishing eligibility for special education services for the student suspected of having an emotional impairment begins with a free, full and individual evaluation of the child.

The Individualized Education Program is a process that results in a document, the IEP, which guides the student’s education. A child with an emotional impairment will most likely be helped by positive behavioral  support, emotional support, and help with developing social skills, improving self-control and esteem. This means parents and educators work together to make an educational plan  that provides supports, services, accommodations and modifications that fit the individual student with an emotional impairment. These supports and services are designed to help the student learn the general educational curriculum along with other students. 

Visit our website for more information on the IEP process and Behavior Supports.

Is there some technology that can help my child?

Assistive technology  is a related service listed in IDEA. Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Be sure to check out our webpage on Assistive Technology.

Where can I find support?

Association for Children’s Mental Health Michigan

Michigan Chapter:  National Alliance on Mental Illness  

Michigan Department of Community Health

Mental Health and SPECIAL Education

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