Population characteristics of a school for emotionally disturbed adolescent boys

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<ul><li><p>POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS OF A SCHOOL FOR EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED ADOLESCENT BOYS </p><p>WALLACE LA BENNE </p><p>Eastern Michigan University </p><p>This paper presents a descriptive analysis of the academic and intellectual status, psychological and physical pathology, delinquency patterns, and background factors of a school population of emotionally disturbed adolescent boys. The sub- jects in this study comprise the entire population of a special school in a large, urban, Midwestern City. The school was selected for the following reasons: (a) the unit draws clientele from several school districts which include a cross-section of the socioeconomic communities in the city; (b) the boys in the school represent all of the symptomatic behaviors which are typical of this special class pupil enrollment; ( c ) the particular school selected for these boys was determined by geographical rather than differential diagnosis or treatment considerations; and (d) the writer had continuous contact and association with the school both as a classroom teacher and as a mental health worker for five and a half years. </p><p>CHRONOLOGICAL AGE The special school studied is provided for emotionally handicapped boys 12 </p><p>years of age and older. During the school year of 1964-65 a total of 152 pupils were enrolled. The age range was 12 to 16 years with a mean age of 14.03. Although the special school can accommodate boys 17 years of age and older, there were none Over 16 years enrolled during the school year. If they are not sufficiently improved to be transferred back to regular school by age 16, the drop-out rate is usually 100%. </p><p>ACADEMIC STATUS </p><p>In studying the academic status patterns of these emotionally handicapped boys particular interest is in the number who are academically retarded and in the severity of the retardation. In general academic achievement, 81.1% of the boys were four or more years retarded and only 1.4% were on or above age for grade level. In reading achievement, 76.3% of the boys were four or more years retarded and only 5.3y0 were on or above age for grade level. </p><p>An examination of the psychological clinic records reveals that 148 of the 152 pupils of the schools enrollments had some learning difficulty. This indicates that 97.4y0 of the special school pupil population had academic problems. For a large majority of these boys school has been a succession of failures and the evidence demonstrates that they have violently resisted a t least the traditional type of class- room education. </p><p>INTELLECTUAL LEVEL Table 1 presents the distribution of intelligence quotients for this school. Ter- </p><p>man and Merrill (1960, p. 18) give an intelligence classification which is generally </p><p>1These findings indicate retardation relative to the normal ability level expected in a regular clwroom. Where interest is in retardation relat,ive to the pupils present mental poteiit.ial the follow- ing quotients are used: </p><p>Reading Age Arithmetic Age </p><p>Mental Age Mental Age and so f0rt.h. </p></li><li><p>POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS OF A SCHOOL FOR EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED BOYS 147 </p><p>accepted as operationally useful. According to this classification 13.4% of these boys fall below an IQ of 70 which is considered mentally defective. In a normal popula- tion distribution approximately 2.6y0 would be mentally defective. The borderline defective classification includes IQs of 70-79. Into this group fall 30.6% of the boys as compared to a normal population distribution of 5.6y0. IQs ranging from 80 to 89 are classified as low average. In a normal population distribution, 14.5% as com- pared to 34.70/, of the ungraded boys fall in this group. The normal or average classification includes IQs of 90 to 109. In a normal population distribution about 50% are so classified. This school has only 21.3y0 of the boys classified as normal in intelligence. Morse and Cutler (1964, p. 70) found only 13% of the emotionally handicapped boys below the normal range in their national survey. </p><p>TABLE 1. INTELLIGENCE QUOTIENT DISTRIBUTION OF PUPILS </p><p>IQ RANGE Number Percentage </p><p>50-59 60-69 70-79 8@89 90-99 </p><p>100-109 </p><p>1 19 46 52 28 4 </p><p>. 7 12.7 30.6 34.7 18.6 2 . 7 </p><p>Total 150 </p><p>CLASSIFICATION OF CHILD PATHOLOGY The psychoeducational field has, as yet, no broadly accepted way of classifying </p><p>the problem manifested by the emotionally handicapped child. Most clinicians agree that the standard psychiatric nomenclature is often inapplicable to behaviorally abnormal children. A partial solution to this problem may be the Syndrome Evalua- tion (1964) system of classifying psychoeducational disturbances. This system pro- poses the following basic categories: </p><p>1. Neurotic A. Internalizing : depression, withdrawal, obsessions, phobias, psycho- physiological reactions. B. Externalizing : acting out, counteraggression, negative oppositional attitude. </p><p>2. Encephalopathic A. Motor involvement : driven-ness, emotional lability, over-reaction to stimulation, perseveration. B. Language-symbolization involvement: dyslexia and related learning problems, orientation deficiency, symbolization difficulty. C. Convulsive disorders. </p><p>3. Schizophrenic A. Relatively intact intellectual functioning: verbal communication pres- ent, accessible to relationships. B. Retarded intellectual functioning : mutism, marked withdrawal, au- tism, inaccessibility. </p></li><li><p>148 WALLACE LA BENNE </p><p>4. Primitive-Neglected Relationship capacity relatively intact, but skills and values impaired with resultant behavior problems. </p><p>Capacity for depth relationships severely impaired. 5. Agkctimless Persmality </p><p>An examination, by psychologists and school social workers, of school and clinic records presented behavior symptoms which were used to classify all the boys ac- cording to syndrome categories. In many cases the diagnosis was mixed. Table 2 presents the findings. The largest single group consists of acting-out neurotic boys. The second largest group are boys with impaired values and skills. When all relevant syndromes are considered in a mixed diagnosis the third largest group are boys with general learning, symbolization, and conceptualization difficulties. And finally, the fourth largest group are boys with severe impairment of relationships capacity. </p><p>TABLE 2. DISTRIBUTION OF DIAQNOSTIC CATEGORIES </p><p>First Most Second Most Third Most Total of All Relevant Category Relevant Category Relevant Category Categories </p><p>Syndromes No. % No. 76 No. % No. % Neurotic Internalizing 15 9.9 2 1 .3 1 1.4 18 11.8 Neurotic Externalizing 77 50.7 44 29.3 6 8 . 7 127 83.5 Encephalopathic Motor 2 1 . 3 8 5.3 13 18.8 23 15.1 Language Symbol 0 .o 19 12.7 37 53.6 56 36.8 Convulsive 0 .o .o .o 0 .o 0 .o Schizophrenic Intact 1 .7 2 1.3 1 1.4 4 2.6 Schizo hrenic Retarled 0 .o 0 . o 0 .o 0 .o Primitive Neglected 35 23.0 55 36.7 9 13.0 99 65.1 Atrectionless Personality 22 14.4 20 13.4 2 3 . 1 44 28.9 </p><p>150 69 37 1 </p><p>PHYSICAL DEFECTS Information was gathered from psychological records where a physical examin- </p><p>ation report was given a t the time the boys were recommended for special class place- ment. These records indicate that 49% of the clientele had some ear, eye, nose, or throat defect. Nutritional deficiencies were found in 8%. Endocrine defects were reported for 2%. No specific data were found for 12%. Perhaps most significant is the fact that only 29% were free from physical defects. </p><p>1 </p><p>REASON FOR SENDING PUPILS TO SPECIAL SCHOOL When a boy is referred to the psychological clinic for placement in the special </p><p>program, the reason for the requested transfer is reported. Table 3 presents the reason for placement grouped under one or more of four adjustment categories. Be- </p></li><li><p>POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS OF A SCHOOL FOR EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED BOYS 149 </p><p>cause more than one referral reason was frequently given, the total percentage ex- ceeds 100. Personal adjustment problems were the most often stated reason for re- quested placement. Although only 34% were home adjustment problems, it is likely that school, personal, and social adjustment factors would be manifested to school personnel, whereas the factors in the home adjustment may go unidentified. </p><p>TABLE 3. STATED REASON FOR PLACEMENT INTO SPECIAL SCHOOL' </p><p>Reason Percentage of Pupils (N = 152) </p><p>School Adjustment Problems (Attendance, poor classroom attitude, unsuitable curricula, poor scholarship, lack of interest in school) </p><p>Home Adjustment Problems (Adverse home conditions, cultural conflicts, neglect, lack of supervision, burdensome home duties, economic inadequacies) </p><p>Personal Adj ust.ment Problems (Aggressive tendenciea, daydreaming, emotional immaturity, fears, nervousness, unhappiness, withdrawing behavior) </p><p>(Irresponsibility, cheating, stealing, oversuggest,- ibility, defiance, lack of friends) </p><p>Social Adjustment Problem </p><p>No data </p><p>41 </p><p>34 </p><p>65 </p><p>53 </p><p>16 </p><p>.Adjustment problem areas adapted from the referral causes as stated in the Michigan Visiting Teacher Program, Bulletin 342 (1958:4-5). </p><p>SCHOOLS PREVIOUSLY ATTENDED Many of the boys have had no opportunity to establish stable, identifying re- </p><p>lationships with school, teachers, or peers because of lack of continuity in their school experience. Using the mean age of 14.03 years, 28.4% of the boys have averaged nearly one different school for each year of their schooling. Using the same basis, some 36.3Q/, of the boys have had a change of school every other year of their schooling. Only 19.2% have had what might be a more normal school change experi- ence of one to three changes in nine years. </p><p>FAMILY BACKGROUND FACTORS Table 4 presents the marital status of the parent with whom the pupil is present- </p><p>ly living. The most outstanding fact there is that only 40% of the pupils are living with their original married parents. </p><p>TnnLE 4. PRESENT MARITAL STATUS OF P A R E N T WITH WHOM PUPIL IS LIVINQ </p><p>Marital Status Percentage of </p><p>Pupils' Parents </p><p>Married (child's original parents) Separated Divorced Others Foster parent or guardiaii No data </p><p>40 17 7 </p><p>12 11 13 </p><p>.Fat'her rinknown; married to other than original parent; one parent deceased. </p></li><li><p>150 WALLACE LA BENNE </p><p>PUPIL RESIDENCES Using the mean age as the numerator the following picture of pupil residences </p><p>emerges: 27% of the boys have had at least one new residence every three years of their lives; 13.7% have had at least one new residence every two years; and 11.2Oj, have had at least one new residence just about every year of their lives. </p><p>DELINQUENCY STATUS OF PUPILS Table 5 presents the types of offenses committed by the pupils known to the </p><p>police Youth Bureau. Because many of these boys were involved in more than one offense, the total exceeds 100%. </p><p>TABLE 5. JUVENILE OFFENDERS KNOWN TO THE POLICE YOUTH BUREAU </p><p>Pupil Offenders (N = 82) Type of Offense Percentage </p><p>Larceny 48 Robbery </p><p>Armed Unarmed </p><p>6 22 </p><p>Burglary 41 10 Sex (rape, sodomy, gross indecency) </p><p>Truancy Home School </p><p>15 10 </p><p>Malicious destruction of property 13 22 </p><p>Assault and battery 30 Other (possession of stolen property, alcoholic beverages, 17 </p><p>Unlawful driving away of automobile </p><p>interference with police duty, arson, etc.) </p><p>REFERENCES MORSE, W. C., &amp; CUTLER, R. L. An analysis of public school classes for the emotionally handicapped. </p><p>Sydrome wdwclion. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, School Intervention Project, 1964. TERMAN, L. M., &amp; MERRILL, N. A. StanforCEBinet ZntelligeneeSeale. Boston: Houghton-Main, 1960. </p><p>Unpublished manuscript, University of Michigan, 1964. </p></li></ul>

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