Patterns and correlates of learning, behavior, and emotional problems of adolescents with and without serious emotional disturbance

Edward J. Sabornie, Douglas Cullinan, Michael H. Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


We created a 40-item teacher rating scale to assess learning, social, and personal problems among students with serious emotional disturbance and no known handicaps. Special and regular educators completed ratings on 269 students with emotional disturbance and 49 nondisabled pupils aged 12-17 across the U.S. We categorized all subjects by race, gender, population density of residence, family status, and age, and students with serious emotional disturbance were also classified by type of placement, length of time in special education, and use of prescriptive medication. Results indicated that (a) adolescents with emotional disturbance had significantly more learning, social, and personal problems than nondisabled peers; (b) both males and females with emotional disturbance had more problems than similar gender nondisabled youth; (c) younger females had more problems than older ones; (d) youth with emotional disturbance in more restrictive placements had more problems than those in less restrictive educational settings; and (e) subjects with emotional disturbance on psychotropic medication had more personal problems than others taking stimulants or no prescription drugs. We discuss the findings related to other similar studies and the need for additional information on the interaction between learning, social, and personal difficulties among students identified as seriously emotionally disturbed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-175
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 1993



  • behavior disorders
  • learning problems
  • personal problems
  • social problems
  • teacher ratings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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