Meeting The Challenge of Inclusion For
Students With Emotional Disabilities
by Mary Beth Hewitt

This article is reprinted with the permission of Mary Beth Hewett from CHOICES (volume 2, pages 32-39)...see the bottom of this page for more information.

    Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to work with several school districts as they have attempted to integrate students with emotional disabilities into the mainstream of a regular public school facility.  These districts have met with vastly different levels of success.  What I hope to accomplish in this article is to share with you some of my experiences and provide you with the factors that need to be considered to make successful integration possible.


    Students with all forms of disabilities have the right to be educated in the least restrictive, most appropriate environment. The movement toward less restrictive environments is not only a school phenomenon; it is a societal one with the ultimate goal being to have individuals with all types of disabilities live, work and be educated in their own communities.  For this reason it is imperative that the schools adjust to serve all students.  If we do not, we are doing all of our children a disservice. If one never encounters individuals with disabilities until adulthood, it is conceivable that he/she will not develop the necessary skills for how to effectively live and work with them.

    Inclusionary programs provide all students with an increased awareness and understanding of individual differences. We have seen far too many examples of how segregation serves as a breeding ground for intolerance, misunderstanding, and perpetuation of myths. I recall watching a television special on Ruby Bridges depicting the story of when schools were being racially desegregated.  There had been no attempt to uncover, address and change the beliefs of students, staff or community prior to this move.  As a result, Ruby and her teacher were isolated from the rest of the school.  Essentially, they became segregated in a setting that was supposed to be inclusionary.  It doesn't have to be this way.

    One of the first groups of students with special needs considered for inclusion were those with visible, physical handicaps (developmentally delayed, visually impaired, hearing impaired).  There was general consensus that these individuals did not choose to have their disability and required modifications to function successfully in the mainstream.  The environment was expected to make reasonable accommodations for them.  Handicapped entrances, bathrooms, signage in Braille were just some of the modifications made in the physical plant structure.  Specially trained staff members were hired to act as interpreters.  Books on tape, closed-captioned TV and video programs were modifications made in instructional materials.  With this group of students, members of the school community were given the opportunity to learn about the various handicapping conditions and had the opportunity to ask questions.  I recall that there were programs like "The Kids on The Block" puppet show which came around to the various schools.  This program provided a forum for students and staff to learn about the handicaps and ask questions.  Students also participated in empathy building activities by simulating visual impairments, hearing impairments, etc..

    Another early group of students with special needs, slated for inclusion had difficulties that were cognitively based (speech/language impaired, learning disabled).  Although their disabilities were not visible, per se, there was an understanding that there were physical causes for their disability and they, too, had no choice in "fixing" themselves.   Richard Lavoie's F.A.T. City (Frustration, Anxiety, Tension) video workshop helped people simulate the challenges encountered by students with learning disabilities.  Pre-service and in-service courses were developed and offered to help staff develop a better understanding of learning styles and alternative instructional strategies.

Children with both physical and cognitive disabilities were provided with adaptive devices, access to specially trained staff, environmental, instructional and materials modifications that enabled them to have a chance to be successful in an inclusionary setting.  At the same time, our society reflected the inclusion of individuals with disabilities into mainstream.  Similar environmental modifications were made in our communities.  In addition, public service announcements, posters, sporting events and television shows all showed individuals with disabilities as being part of our daily lives.

    The last students considered for inclusion were those with moderate to severe emotional disabilities.  Unfortunately, since students with emotional disabilities have an "invisible" handicap and look normal, there are some real myths surrounding the etiology of their disability and level of control they possess over their handicap.  Many people believe that they could control their "problem" through the use of shear will power.  Since students with emotional disabilities frequently do not appear physically different, it was difficult for many to view them as requiring the same level of specialized care as those students with visible handicapping conditions.  Little, if any, attention was given to proactively preparing the environment to understand and accommodate the needs of this group.  There were no puppet shows, no empathy building activities, no opportunities for voicing concerns, questions and answers.  The preparation for their integration was not given the same level of attention as it was for other disabled populations.

    Whenever there is a change from the status quo, there are questions, concerns and opinions from all parties. Unfortunately, the standard way of handling these things with emotional and behavioral issues is to avoid discussing them.  It is almost like believing that if we don't talk about problems, there won't be any problems.  Out of all of the disabilities, mental illness is the last to come out of the disability "closet." You don't see poster children for ED.  Although rough estimates indicate that one in five individuals will have some form of emotional illness in their lifetime, it is still the disability that very few talk about. Unfortunately, the head in the sand philosophy does not work. Questions, concerns and opinions do not go away.  They may go underground, but they do not go away.  Fear and uncertainty build, and, without education and training, the environment is "ripe" for continued intolerance, misunderstanding and the perpetuation of myths.


    It may surprise you to learn that no teachers (not even those certified in special education) are required in New York State to take either a course in classroom management (Dr. Mac's note: New York State now requires training in this area as of 9/1/01) or any coursework in a specific disability area, even at the Master's level.  Many districts do not provide systematic in-service training to proactively prepare staff, students, or community members to understand the nature of emotional and behavioral problems.  Nor have they equipped them with strategies to successfully address the needs of these students.   As a result, the majority of individuals feel ill prepared to meet the needs of students with whom they were previously unsuccessful.  They remember the frustration and sense of powerlessness they experienced with students in their school who exhibited severe behavioral problems. They recognize that the only "tools" they had at their disposal then, the traditional discipline or behavior management programs, failed to shape, change or modify many of these students' behaviors.  Many ask, "What's going to be different now?"

    It is not only the questions of the professional staff members that require assessment. Parents and students on both sides of the inclusion equation also have questions and concerns. At one of my presentations in a local elementary school, one of the students raised his hand and asked, "Are these the bad kids or the handicapped kids?" I've found that integration of students with emotional disabilities has the best chance of success when questions, concerns, opinions of all members of the school community are assessed before the transition.  This provides a forum to discover and address the belief systems that may block successful integration.

    Typical questions staff members, parents and students on the "receiving end" have expressed to me include:
What's going to be different now?
What causes emotional problems?
Why do they behave the way they do?
How do I explain inappropriate behaviors to my students/children?
Should we respond to these students' behavior as if they were "regular" students, or should we
        just leave them alone and let the "experts" handle them?
How should we respond to students' inappropriate behaviors?
Will we know who they are and what to expect?
Will they be placed in my class/my child's class?
If so, will there be any help, training, and support?
Will my students/children learn inappropriate behaviors from them?
Will my students/children and I be safe?
Will the instructional environment be disrupted by the presence of these students?

    Many people mistakenly believe that the students with ED and their parents and teachers will be overjoyed to be in a regular education environment. I was amazed at the amount of resistance, especially from the parents. At a presentation I was doing, one parent said, "I don't want my child to go to a regular school. They don't understand. My son was in a psychiatric center for four months and everyone in the neighborhood was still blaming him for things that would go wrong in the neighborhood. He hadn't been home for four months, but when something went wrong, they still blamed him. When he's in your school, I know that people there understand that he is not bad, he's sick. He's safe there. If you want to experiment, do it with someone else's kid. I know that it's right in the long run to desegregate, but please wait until my son gets out of school."

Parental concerns include:
Will regular education staff and students understand that my child has a disability or will they
    think they are just behaving "badly"?
How will staff be educated to insure my child's "psychological safety"?
Will my child receive appropriate mental health and behavioral services as provided by the
    special programs? i.e. Prosocial Skills Training, Behavior Management, Individual/Group
    Counseling, Treatment Planning, Life Space Intervention, Physical Crisis Management.

Special education staff members have similar questions including:
Will staff understand the techniques that we use which may differ from traditional methods?
Will we have sufficient support staff to respond to crisis situations?
Will staff, students, and parents understand that our students are not choosing to behave inappropriately, but cannot, without outside intervention control their behavior? Will they be perceived as disabled or bad?

The students with ED also have their concerns. Many students had attended a public school in the past and had been, in their eyes, rejected from that setting.  A vast majority of students have high anxiety about returning to an environment that has not been equipped to meet their needs. Being ostracized, teased and misunderstood are all very real possibilities and they expressed concern about this. When we moved to a new facility attached to a regular high school, our students requested that we put paper up in the windows so that they wouldn't be stared at like animals at the zoo. One of our students, who had experienced a few months in an integrated setting in another school said, "Miss Hewitt, I didn't like going to time out, but I wish we had a time out place here at this new school. When I lose it here, the whole world watches and no one understands that I've lost control--they just think I'm really bad. In time out I could have my privacy and everyone there knew I was having a problem and tried to help me. The kids are calling me "spaz" boy here.  I want to go back."

Common questions and concerns that students with ED have expressed to me include:
Will they "kick me out" again?
Will I always be in trouble like I was before?
Will the other kids tease me?
Why do I have to move?


    My experience has shown me that there are two separate groups, who hold radically different beliefs, undertaking the challenge of integrating students with ED into regular education facilities. The first group believes that these students should be fully integrated into the mainstream without changing a thing.  I'll refer to them as the "Optimists."  The second group asserts that these students should be isolated within the school building. I'll refer to them as the "Pessimists."  Both groups have done little to effect a successful reintegration.

    Interestingly enough, these two groups share one major misconception which drives the lack of attention to the changes that must be made in the environment to help students with emotional handicaps be successful in an inclusive setting.

    Myth A: Emotional disabilities are not true disabilities.  Students choose their behavior and have control over their "handicap."
    ED is a bona fide disability.  Just like no one wakes up in the morning and says, "I think I'll have cerebral palsy today," no one wakes up in the morning and says, "I think that I will be depressed today."  They just are.  The students who suffer from depression or any other form of emotional disability have no more control over having that disability when they wake up than the person who has a physical handicap.  That is not to say that students with emotional handicaps cannot be treated.  With proper interventions, students with emotional disabilities can achieve a high degree of success in their schools and communities.

    Although this is a belief shared by both groups, at this juncture the differences lie in why they believe students have emotional problems and what the school should or should not do.

Optimists' Myths About Emotional Disabilities
The Optimists are under the impression that students with ED just haven't had the right role models, discipline or motivation to change.

 Myth B: Students with emotional disabilities behave the way they do because they've been in classes with other students with ED and have had poor role models. Now that they have good role models they'll behave better.
    This belief incorrectly assumes that an emotional disability is purely a result of learned behavior. It is akin to saying that a child who is blind hasn't learned to see because he/she has been in classes with other children who are visually impaired.  No one would assert that if we put a sightless child in with sighted children his/her sight will improve, but they often believe that putting students with emotional problems in with "normal" children will significantly diminish their emotional problems.  Furthermore, many of these students were in classes with "good role models" before they were initially placed in a special school and they were not successful then.

Myth C: Students with ED act the way they do because people have not expected and/or required them to follow the rules. If you have high expectations for their behavior and enforce those expectations, they'll behave.
    Students with ED came from "regular education" environments where they had high expectations and were punished when they did not follow the rules.  In spite of this, their behavior deteriorated and they were placed out of the mainstream. To the outside observer it may have appeared that inappropriate behavior was being tolerated or condoned in the special education setting, not because it was, but because the timing or type of intervention was different than what may occur in a regular education environment. Their special classes had high, yet realistic expectations that were enforced so as to benefit the individual.

Myth D: If staff members know about students with ED prior history, it will prejudice their interactions and, therefore, cause the students to behave poorly. If you don't tell staff members, they'll treat the students just like any other student and they will behave.
    This presumes that students with emotional disabilities only behave poorly because they're expected to behave poorly and feel the need to live up to their reputation.  Again, it would be like saying, "Let's not tell him that he's blind and maybe he'll act just like a sighted child." Although there is something to be said for the self-fulfilling prophecy, when an individual's past is used as an "indictment" instead of information, it has been my experience that if staff members are not told up front about the student with an emotional disability, when they witness inappropriate behavior the assumption is that the behavior is a result of just being "bad" and they become angry or frightened. Providing information as to the nature of the disorder and training in strategies to address behaviors increases the staff's confidence level in their interactions with students.

Myth E: Students with ED behave the way they do because they've gotten away with a lot. If they are just disciplined enough, they will conform.
    Many students with emotional disabilities have gone the length of the disciplinary system in school. They have lost privileges, spent a lot of time in the principal's office, been suspended, arrested, etc., yet their behavior has not changed. Some students even like to be punished, believing that they are worthless and deserve punishment. While other children have been punished so much (sometimes even physically abused) that punishment holds no meaning for them at all.  This is not to say that their behavior cannot change; it can, but harsher punishments are not the answer.  Counseling, pro-social skills training, medication, cognitive therapy, behavior modification are just some of the alternatives that can be used to effectively change behavior.

Myth F: Students with ED want to be in "regular" schools, therefore, they will behave to stay in this school.
    Interestingly enough, many students with emotional disabilities do not want to return to the regular education environment. For many, it is returning to a hostile environment that rejected them years earlier. Many students were traumatized by their school experiences having always being seen as the "bad kid", being teased by their classmates; and experiencing little, if any, success.

Myth G  If your program is interesting enough, all the kids' behavioral resistance will go away.
    This assumes that students with ED only act out around school related issues.  That if they are
interested and feel successful, they will behave.  Although an interesting program in which the student can experience success will help, it will not cure the student.

The Optimists believe that students with ED will be overjoyed about returning to a regular school.  Given the fact that they will have good role models, high expectations that will be enforced with consequences for inappropriate behaviors, a "fresh start" (since no one will know their history) and a motivating program, they will be cured!  Since this group subscribes to the above myths, they erroneously believe that students with ED can be returned to school with few, if any, modifications. If modifications are considered, they only involve small class sizes, the hiring of paraprofessionals and perhaps an addition of a small amount of psychologist or counselor time. So students with ED are returned to essentially the same environment which rejected them years earlier and what happens? The students' behavior is unchanged, the optimists are disillusioned and there is a hue and cry to "send them back."

Pessimists' Myths About Emotional Disabilities

    The Pessimists also believe that ED is a matter of choice, but they are not under the impression that changes in the environment can change the behavior.  If the students wanted to change, they could do it in any environment, by shear force of will.  More importantly, they believe that the environment should not have to adjust to accommodate children who are choosing to misbehave.  Lastly, they assert that integration of students with emotional problems will "contaminate" the school environment.   The Pessimists believe if students with emotional disabilities must be brought back to a home school district facility, they should continue to be rigidly segregated within that facility. The beliefs that drive this practice include:

Myth H: The educational environment should not have to adjust to the student. The student should have to adjust to the educational environment or he/she just doesn't belong there. It is just a lack of willpower. Why should we have to do anything when they could control themselves if they just tried hard enough?
    We make modifications for students in wheelchairs. Although the modifications needed to work successfully with students with ED are not necessarily physical "structures", they are no less important for the students to be able to function.  Modifications need to be made in the type and "timing" of interventions; intensive
training of staff and students into the nature of emotional disturbance so that they can respond appropriately and access to support staff to name a few.

Myth I: If you don't address a behavior immediately, you are sending the message that it is acceptable. We can't have these kids misbehaving around our students or the next thing you know everyone will be doing it.
    Emotional disabilities are not "contagious" any more than any other handicapping condition. Most "onlookers" know that a given behavior is unacceptable in a school environment and recognize that if they behaved inappropriately there are consequences for their actions.  Total chaos will not break out if a staff member temporarily chooses to address the emotion and not the manner in which it was expressed.   Since students with emotional disabilities frequently respond from an emotional viewpoint, trained staff members learn to "planned ignore" and/or "interpret" the presenting behavior.

    For example, a staff member might say to a student who is swearing, "Sounds like you are having a bad day."  Instead of the traditional response, "Stop swearing."  This focus on the reason and not the behavior effectively de-escalates many situations. The fear is that doing this will send the message that the behavior is acceptable.  This might be true if the behavior was never addressed.  Planned ignoring and interpretation do not mean ignoring forever.  That would be condoning.  All that happens is the timing of when the behavior is addressed is delayed.  After the student is rational, it is important to say, "It's OK to be upset when you have a bad day; it's not OK to swear.  The consequence for swearing is…."  If an adult makes a decision not to immediately address the behavior, it will not be looked on as "condoning " IF that behavior is dealt with in a reasonable length of time. The "grapevine" will work to let kids know that there were consequences, even if those consequences come later.

Myth J: In order to be consistent and fair you must treat every student in the exact same way.  If they have to be treated differently, then they shouldn't be here.
    Treating everyone the same way may be consistent but it isn't necessarily fair or helpful. If one child reads on a 5th grade level and one reads on the 9th, is it fair to expect them both to read on the 10th by the end of the year?  Or is it fair to expect them each to make one year's growth?  Similarly, if one student gets out of his seat (about 30 times per day) and one student rarely gets out of his seat (about 2 times per week), is it fair to expect both students to totally eliminate that from their behavioral repertoire within the same time period?  The definition of fairness I develop with my students is:  Fairness is giving all students what they need and value without prejudice.  I don't expect a visually impaired child to copy off the blackboard; I make a reasonable accommodation so that he/she can do his/her assignment.  Similarly, I don't expect a child with ADHD to sit for long periods of time; I make a reasonable accommodation so that he/she can do his/her work while alternating sitting and standing up.

Just as the environment needed to adjust to accommodate the needs of those students with physical and learning disabilities, it also needs to adjust to meet the needs of students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Students with ED can be successfully integrated into a regular education environment if they are accorded the same treatment as other disabilities. This includes consideration of environmental modifications, personnel modification; staff, student, parent training and alternative intervention strategies.


Training For All
    Training is the key component to a successful integration plan and, at minimum, an awareness level training must occur with ALL members of the school community before the students are integrated. Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the belief that those who have this disability are choosing to have it and that if they only tried hard enough they would be able to overcome their difficulties. After one of my workshop one teacher said to me, "For the first time I began to understand these students as having a disorder.  They can't just change on their own. I have to help them."

    Many individuals in the regular education environment have no conception of the nature and range of emotional disturbances. When they hear the term ED, they automatically recall the acting out student who destroyed the instructional environment.  They have little concept that students with emotional disturbance do not all have disruptive behavior disorders. I believe that all involved need to have a basic level of awareness of the various types of emotional handicaps and the associated symptomatology.  With this knowledge, individuals are able to gain empathy for the students.  With empathy comes the realization that the environment needs to make reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of the child rather than expecting the child to adjust to the environment.  People are more than willing to adjust the environment when they are given information, reason and the tools to do so.

    Years ago, when I was faced with the challenge of transitioning twenty classes of students with emotional handicaps from a self-contained center to a local school district, I developed a model which included: highly trained staff (both internal and external); school-community support; and interagency cooperation. I had this paradigm prominently displayed in my office. One of the high school level students inquired about it. When I started to describe what was meant by school-community support, he said, "That's what we need, to have people understand we're not bad. We don't chose to have problems.  We need help."  The first item I tackled was developing programs to inform staff, students, and parents about the nature of emotional handicaps.  That was how the CHOICES program started.

Training Programs for Students
    At the primary level, I developed a presentation using the characters from Winnie the Pooh.  Age appropriate terminology was used to describe the behaviors of Eeyore (sadness/ depression); Tigger (overactive/hyperactive); Rabbit (worrier/neurotic); Piglet (fearful/inadequate); Pooh (odd/eccentric).  Through the use of a story line, where Tigger unexpectedly "bounces" into a house Pooh, Eeyore, and Rabbit were building, the children discuss how people can react very differently to the same situation, yet can still be friends. "My brother's a lot like Tigger," one second grader said. "He's hyperactive." A discussion ensued about ways to interact with people who have behaviors like the Pooh characters.

    At the elementary level the presentation involved a discussion of the various types of handicaps. The students were quite well versed in the visible handicaps, yet they had virtually no awareness of the validity of "invisible" ones.

    At the middle and high school level, the presentation was geared toward having the students evaluate their own typical behavioral response styles.  In this way they saw that many of the behaviors were similar to those with a disorder.  They just varied in the intensity, frequency, and degree or were not characteristic, chronic ways of how they related to others.  Teachers who had taken the CHOICES Nature and Needs awareness course incorporated discussion about famous individuals (artists, politicians, authors, musicians) with emotional problems into their curriculum. Additionally, a formal presentation outlining the characteristic symptoms and treatments was done.  At this level, I received enormous amounts of feedback from several students.  One student shared that her mother suffered from a mood disorder, and it was the first time she had ever heard anyone talk so openly about it.  Another shared that her brother had Tourette's syndrome, and she didn't feel that she had anybody who understood and could talk about it with.  Still others shared about their own struggles with anxiety, particularly eating disorders.

Training Programs For Adults
    The general awareness level training package, Nature and Needs (now called Understanding and Dealing With Challenging Students), was extended to all members of the school community including parents, clerical, support staff, bus drivers, administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals.  This course answered many of the questions posed by regular education staff members and parents.  It also provided the type of information parents, students, and teachers of the emotionally handicapped wanted to convey.  The increase in the knowledge level helped provide one of the components for the creation of a psychologically safe environment for students with ED.  They would no longer be viewed as bad but rather as disabled in the emotional arena.

    Once awareness level training was completed staff were offered more in depth courses.  Workshops such as Behavioral First Aid taught interventions which could manage student behavior.  Courses such as Life Space Crisis Intervention, and Teaching The Skills For Success helped staff learn how to help students change their behavior.  Workshops were also given on more specific types of emotional/behavioral problems like passive aggressive and oppositional behavior.

    Ninety five percent of all staff members attending these workshops have consistently rated them as extremely or very useful.   Typical comments on feedback forms indicate a strong belief that all staff members should take these courses, as they apply, not only to students with the label of emotionally handicapped, but to all children who are experiencing emotional/behavioral  problems.

Appropriate Staffing
    Whereas students with physical disabilities may require adaptive devices and environmental modifications, students with emotional disabilities often require trained personnel.  Think of them as their "adaptive devices."  Schools I've worked with have been most successful when they've recognized that this is a critical component for inclusion of students with emotional problems.  Unfortunately, when trained personnel is the students' "adaptive device," there is a tendency to cut corners.  It is common to have a part time person (psychologist, counselor, social worker) assigned to assist a few students.

    The problem with this is the students don't have problems "part time."  Again, we wouldn't think of taking away a student’s wheelchair or phonic ear four out of five days a week, but assigning a .2 FTE (1 day/week), mental health professional is a common practice.  This problem is exacerbated if the staff members who are working with students with ED the remaining four days have not received training in how to effectively work with them.

    One of the most common practices I've encountered is hiring a 1-1 aide to work with a student in an inclusive setting.  I do not object to the hiring of additional staff, but I am opposed to hiring a staff member who has no training in working with students with emotional problems.  I highly doubt that an individual who did not know sign language would be hired to be a 1-1 aide with a student who was deaf, yet it is the norm to hire 1-1 aides who have no knowledge or skills in working with students with emotional problems.  At the very minimum, staff hired to work with a student with emotional problems need basic level training and access to support staff who can assist in the development of their skills "on the job."

Considerations for Policies
    Perhaps the biggest stumbling block to successful integration of students with emotional handicaps is that districts have not proactively discussed how these students will "fit" within the current discipline policy.  As a result, problems erupt when staff members, students, parents and community members perceive differential treatment for violations of behavioral standards.

    Although the word discipline means "to teach," most discipline policies are built around an escalating system of punishments.  Going back to the beliefs/myths discussed earlier in this article, use of traditional consequences have little effect on helping students with ED change/improve their behavior.  I strongly believe that consequences have three major goals:  1)  to shape, change, modify behavior  2) to set an example of standards  3) to provide for physical and psychological safety.  The first one is for the "good of the individual," the last two are for the "good of the order."  Districts who have discussed how they will accomplish all three goals for all of their students have a much better chance of success than those who either exempt students with emotional problems from their policies or rigidly refuse to budge on discipline issues.

Environmental Modifications
    Depending on the severity of the emotional handicap, there may need to be modifications in the physical plant.  If there is a self-contained classroom, the location of the room and its relationship to other areas of the building should be taken into account.  Since some students with ED have difficulty with transitions (i.e., the lack of structure and over-stimulation associated with hallways), rooms should be in close proximity to areas that are frequently visited.  In one of the buildings where we housed two self-contained classrooms, the rooms were on the third floor, the farthest distance from the gymnasium, cafeteria, crisis support room and main office. I often thought, they wouldn't think of putting a classroom for physically challenged on the top floor of a building with no elevator.  Why would they place a class for students with emotional problems at the farthest point from the crisis support room?

    Although not a requirement for all students with ED, a crisis support room is needed by some. The main office is not a suitable alternative, as it does not provide the psychological privacy required by a student who is in crisis.  The support room area should be physically safe with consideration given to the furniture, light & electrical switches, door openings, and soundproofing.  A communication system is also a must.


    Successful integration programs for students with emotional disabilities include:
Assessing and discussing the questions, beliefs and concerns of all parties involved before the
    students arrive;
Providing basic level training for all members of the school community in what emotional
    disabilities are and strategies to deal with these;

Hiring trained staff & providing in-service training and support on the job;

Providing advance level training for those most responsible for helping students with ED learn how to
    compensate for their disability;

Hiring full time professional staff;

Proactively examining policies and procedures and discussing what reasonable accommoda-tions
    may be required;

Consideration of environmental factors;

Encouragement of continual open discussion to talk about successes, problems, concerns and

    Students with ED do belong in regular schools.  If we are to prepare our children for living and working together as adults, we must create an environment that teaches them how to live and work together when they are children.  However, we are doing everybody an even greater disservice if we don't give staff and students the knowledge, skills, materials and personnel necessary to be able to address the needs of students with disabilities.

**If you like Mary Beth Hewett's practical tips, you can order volumes 1 and 2 of CHOICES (each volume contains 25-30 of her articles) from the web site at , by call 315/332-7255, or faxing 315/332-2117.

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Thanks Mary Beth!