Childrens Mood Issues What’s Normal and What’s Special needs

What’s Normal – What’s Not

As children progress into adolescence, the hormonal changes taking place can be very difficult for them to cope with. Often, such intense mood issues occur that it becomes difficult for others to determine whether these behaviors are normal or a matter for concern. It is critical not to rush into labeling a child “special needs” prematurely. Unnecessary labels can have dire effects on an adolescent’s self-image and relationship with his/her peers. However, it is equally important not to overlook the warning signs that indicate more serious psychological problems.

If you are concerned with the changes you are observing in your child’s behavior, there are steps you can take to determine if your concerns are warranted. One of the most vital resources that a parent has is other parents. Talk to each other. Compare notes. Are they seeing similar behaviors in their adolescent? Odds are, if your child’s entire social circle appears to have gone off the deep end immediately following their thirteenth birthdays, you’re probably dealing with normal hormonal mood issues. Parents can offer each other a strong support system during difficult teen years. Share your concerns with your child’s teacher. Educators are trained to identify abnormal behaviors in adolescents.

Take the time to observe your child’s interaction with peers. If similar behaviors are being displayed by the whole group, the behaviors are most likely normal. If some of the behaviors strike a familiar note, chances are you are recalling your own teen years which most of us have tried desperately to forget.

However, if communication and observation increase your feelings that something just isn’t right with your child’s mood issues, trust your instincts. Contact a professional. Your family doctor is a good starting point. If he/she feels the situation requires more specialized intervention, they can direct you to a qualified psychologist.

An additional source of information is provided by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in your state. Their website will provide a Special Needs eligibility checklist for Emotional Behavioral Disabilities (EBD). According to the DPI, behaviors that indicate a need for intervention are:

1. Social or emotional functioning that is so unlike generally accepted norms that it negatively affects the child’s ability to function academically, socially, or personally.

2. Behaviors that are severe, chronic, and frequent, occurring in school and either home or community.

3. The child is unable to develop or maintain positive interpersonal relationships

4. Inappropriate responses to normal situations

5. Repeated feelings of unhappiness, depression, or anxiety

6. Development of learning difficulties

7. Extreme withdrawal from social interaction

8. Extreme aggression for long periods of time

9. Any behaviors so extreme that they negatively affect others

If your child is exhibiting such behaviors, contact the psychologist at your child’s school and request an evaluation. This service is free of charge.