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Why ODD Doesn’t Qualify for Special Ed

WHY DOESN’T MY CHILD QUALIFY? This mother put into her question the frustration experienced by a lot of parents:
My ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) child’s behavior is causing her to fail in school, yet I was told she does NOT qualify for Special Education assistance. How can this be?

Strict application of Special Education guidelines specify that only emotionally disabled youngsters can be eligible for placement and services in Special Education. Youngsters with behavioral disorders (and ODD is considered a behavioral disorder) technically do not qualify for these services.

Frankly, this loophole is as loose or as tight as one wants to make it. There might be a number of options, but these two are the primary ones:

1. Experts agree that ODD rarely occurs by itself; it’s generally accompanied by conditions like low frustration tolerance, poor impulse control and even depression. Since depression or issues with impulse control (both emotional conditions) may not be addressed at all in the acting out youngster, the child could be denied those services she could qualify for easily. Only a good assessment can identify and quantify emotionality for certain. Although there appears to be little difference between diagnosis of the same child as “ODD with features of depression” or “Depression with features of oppositionality and defiance” one will qualify the child for Special Education assistance, while the other won’t. Wording makes a difference.

2. Current guidelines stipulate that a student failing in school should receive intervention that starts in the classroom and, if necessary, moves up in “tiers,” a hierarchy sometimes called the Pyramid of Intervention. This intervention is documented in a file that can be reviewed. Good, effective intervention often addresses the behavior and the issues with no need for a Special Education referral at all.

James Sutton, Psychologist

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments