Diverse Learners

Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD)

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Students with EBD

Unlike other disorders, Emotional and Behavioral disorders take time and care to diagnose. While it may be difficult to determine if a student is "having an off day" or may be suffering from an EBD, careful record of behaviors can help health professionals properly diagnose and treat students with EBD. Some examples of EBD include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Psychotic Disorders

In the classroom, these students can show some "unwanted" behaviors, including, but not limited to, aggression, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, and mood swings. These behaviors can place heavy barriers to the student's academic and social success. When a student is unable to focus in class, they may have a hard time understanding the material. Mood swings and anxiety can often isolate students with EBD form their peers, causing delays in social and linguistic development. While often students with EBD are not affected physically, their behavior can often be harmful and can prevent them from engaging in activities where they may be put at risk.

What can parents and teachers do?

Instructional Strategies

Students with EBD respond well to "strengths based" interventions. Students are assessed for their individual strengths, and educational plans are tailored to each student based on those strengths. This helps the student learn in a context that is interesting and comfortable for them, rather than having to overcome barriers in a more traditional learning plan.


The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry provides a resource center for families that provide specific characteristics, strategies, and support for families with children with EBDs.

The National Institute of Mental Health provides guides to help families identify behavior indicative of an EBD while also providing information which helps families to support their children with an EBD.

Created by Doug Withrow, Kelsey Kimber, Christopher Carroll, Ethan McWilliams