Getting Help for a Child with a Behavior Disorder

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My son is in the 10th grade. He has a behavior disorder and he can’t control himself at times. The school does not understand when he gets agitated and angry. They just suspend him and deprive him of his education.

You say your son has a behavior disorder. Many kids with learning disabilities develop behavior problems. If the school doesn’t teach them the skills they need, they become angry, frustrated, and depressed. Then the school labels them as “behavior disordered” or “emotionally disturbed.”

  • Is he under the care of a mental health professional?

If not, he needs this right away.

By suspending him repeatedly, the school is putting him at high risk for dropping out.

  • Does he have an IEP?

If yes, what services is the school supposed to provide? Are they providing these services?

  • If he doesn’t have an IEP, you should get an evaluation by an independent evaluator.

The evaluator will determine what his needs are and what type of educational program he needs. The evaluator can help advocate for him with the school. A mental health person can also help you learn how to advocate for him.

At this point, you have educators who have little or no training in mental health and behavioral problems dealing with him, mainly by suspending him (which isn’t a punishment for many kids).

  • Is he under the care of a child psychiatrist?

If not, that’s your first step. You also need to get a comprehensive evaluation to find out what is going on with him, why he can’t control himself, and how to help him get himself under control. The child psychiatrist should be able to recommend a good child or neuro-psychologist.

Bottom line: You can’t tackle these problems successfully unless or until you have good diagnostic testing and data.

You’ll find more information and resources on Behavior Problems and Discipline at

  1. Hello, my son has a diagnosis of impulse control disorder and Autism. He cannot always regulate himself. Recently before the school year ended he smacked his teacher (female) on her butt. She wrote him up and him suspended for a week. Well that was not enough for her because she also went to the police to file an assault charge. My child was taken into custody and placed in juvenile hall. Where do I go from here? Should I confront the teacher for what she did? Can I sure her?

  2. I am a 59 yr old grandmother who has custody of 3 of my grandchildren for the last 2 yrs. there is a boy14 a girl 13 and a girl 10. the last year has been awful with the teenage girl. If I or her grandfather ask her to do something and she doesn’t want to she just says no. We have took her phone and grounded her. Have tried talking to her she just looks at you and says conversation is stupid. I have tried to just not argue with her but she will fallow me around the house screaming at me just tell me why and when I get it back and just wont stop. She disrupts our home life everyday. Her brother 14 just tries to stay in his room to get away from her and she will beat on his wall and scream stuff at him. her 10 yr old sister just tries to stay away from her . Her therapist cant help.

  3. I have a question about the 10 days of suspension before a child must have a manifestation determination meeting- my son has been suspended for 10 days off the bus. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to transport him myself so he will be at home for those 10 days. Do those days count as 10 days out of school or must they be 10 days separate from a bus suspension?

    • Yes. Transportation is a related service that he needs to access FAPE. So days he is out because of bus suspension should count. You may need help in convincing the school of this. I suggest working with the district special ed office. Your state parent training and information center can assist you if needed.

  4. hi my 9 year old daughter has gotten out of control very disrespectful she is a attention seeker has a no care in the world about anything so no remorse after she has cause a situation. she doesn’t listen and follow direction plays the role of she never does anything wrong .What Should I Do?

  5. My child has begun to get suspended. The school has not put him on RTI or done anything else to intervene. I have put him in counseling and requested a parent referral to special education along with a FBA. The school granted my request for the evaluation but said they could not do a FBA (only a brief FBA which does not include data collection or a parent component) unless he was in special education. This didn’t seem right to me as I feel the FBA and psych should be completed together. Has anyone else run into this and how did you navigate getting help for your child?

    • I know of nothing that would prevent them from doing an FBA now, but convincing them of this will be the problem. If you have not done so, you can approach the district special ed director. Your state parent training and information center may have some experience dealing with this issue in your state.

    • Is your child in special education? If not, put in writing a request for a direct parent referral to special education. Once you sign the school consent, your child is protected under IDEA as having a suspected disability and they should be able to start a positive support plan and functional behavioral assessment if needed.

  6. My 9yr old was seeing a councilor cuz they said he has a “sever anger management disorder”. Since about the age of the terrible 2 I can recall my son throws anything and everything he can get in his hand when he get fusterated, doesn’t get his way, sometimes just because he felt like doing it. He was in counciling for about 5 or 6 months and I saw no progress. It got worst and worst to the point where he hated school, had thoughts of dieting, threaten principal to burn the school, and hit a teacher. He got expelled from school in 3rd grade 10 days before the yr ended. I moved an hr away from home started a new life for my son. It was going good til about 2 weeks ago. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong cuz I give him everything and he has me here all the time. I’m a stay home mom for him

  7. My son is 11 and ever since his iep teacher told him he has a learning disability in a meeting, to him it really got to him. it has affected him ever since to the point where he doesnt participate anymore, is irritated when he has to go, and just doesnt want to be around her. what can I do ?

    • Natalie – my son recently asked me what “a disability” means. He is on the autism spectrum and struggles with conversations, especially explaining his thoughts. We usually do a little Q&A dance through most of these discussions. I figured he probably had a discussion with a friend at school and needed some clarification. I explained my view that there was no such thing as a disability, but rather many different abilities. He is beyond smart with computers and working through tech related problems that he often brings on himself – hehe – but it’s all learning! I explained some of his friends may be better singers or athletes than him, and some may be great at everything – but not one of them isn’t awesome at something – Just like your son!!!

      • We must help our kids find their strengths. For some it is the arts, technology, athletics and so much more. You can nurture those strengths as there are numerous after school and summer programs related to many hobbies and extracurriculars. If your child does not make the varsity team, go to the Police Athletic League or YMCA in your area as they have teams. If your child does not make the school play, use the community theater in your community for your child to shine. Yes, art–so many ways to express artistic talent from lessons to events, volunteerism and artists collectives. Our kids struggle with so much but within those struggles let us allow them to grow in their strengths so they may find the confidence and centering needed to move forward.

      • My son has a few “challenges ” let me just give you a big high 5!! I literally just was reading at least 15 different parents profiles and, I felt discouraged! I just wanted to let you know that I love your outlook and response to your sons” abilities ” that’s all !! Thank you for being a positive light in what we as parents sometimes feel like a sad situation!!

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