Severe behavior disorders of children and youth: editors' introduction.
This issue is also notable in that it is dedicated to the memory of Robert B. Rutherford. Dr. Rutherford established the TECBD Conference in 1976 with the mission of disseminating quality research in the field of emotional and behavioral disorders. For 30 years, Dr. Rutherford furthered this work by annually editing a compilation of the original research presented at the TECBD conference. The yearly conference and subsequent publications have helped to increase our knowledge of children with emotional and behavioral disorders and improve the services and supports available to them. The co-editors of this special issue therefore dedicate this issue to the memory of Robert B. Rutherford.
Researchers in fields of EBD and juvenile justice have long understood the importance of identifying the needs of detained and committed youth. In their study of 555 incarcerated boys, Krezmien, Mulcahy, and Leone provide updated data and new insight into the characteristics of these young people. Their review of academic and mental health data finds high rates of youth with disabilities and high rates of prior therapy. The authors also perform further analyses of the data to determine whether intake data are predictive of special education status or placement in detention.
The current focus on prevention of problem behavior through positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) provides the backdrop for two articles in this issue of Education and Treatment of Children. The effective implementation of school-wide PBIS requires the use of research practices that have not been broadly implemented or measured in general education settings. Lane, Kalberg, Bruhn, Mahoney, and Driscoll explore several of these practices in their review data gathered during first-year implementation of a PBIS project in two rural schools. Specifically, the authors examine variables associated with (1) variations in the treatment fidelity, (2) systematic screenings to identify at-risk students for targeted interventions, and (3) student access to reinforcement.
The goal of implementing individualized PBIS interventions in schools is also leading researchers to explore whether services previously reserved for special education can be effectively applied in general education settings. Renshaw, Christensen, Marchant, and Anderson add to this literature base through an investigation of the effectiveness of training general education teachers in the use of function-based intervention planning. In the four cases describing the practice of individualized function-based planning, the authors found that general education teachers were able to develop and implement moderately effective intervention plans.
The next article in this issue of ETC reminds us of the wide ranging effect that federal policy can have on research and practice. The Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 established the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) and brought significant changes to the conduct of research in the field of emotional and behavioral disorders. Among these changes has been the movement to create a standardized set of criteria for the design and evaluation of research methodology. In their article, Tankersley, Cook, and Cook assess the practicality of quality indicators that have been proposed for the evaluation of single subject research. The authors' apply these criteria to two previously published studies. Their findings move the debate forward by identifying ambiguities and issues that may need to be resolved before these single-subject research quality indicators can be useful in identifying evidenced-based practices.
In the past two decades, a great deal of quality research has been conducted to explore both racial and ethnic inequities in the identification of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. The article in this special issue of ETC by Rice, Merves, and Srsic focuses on an issue of inequity that has been largely ignored: gender inequity. Through semi-structured interviews with 15 professionals, the authors identify issues surrounding the treatment of girls with EBD that are deserving of further research. The authors then discuss the six themes that emerged from the interviews. Among these findings is that more information is needed regarding the "hidden nature" of girls' problems, their disproportionate status in special education, their presenting problem behaviors, and the idiosyncrasies of girls' peer issues.
Among intervention strategies with a strong history of success, self-monitoring of on-task behavior has been demonstrated as effective with youth with and without disabilities. Gulchak updates the self-monitoring strategy by demonstrating how advances in technology can assist students in collecting, recording, and displaying performance data. This study describes how an eight year old male with an emotional and behavioral disorder learned to use a handheld computer to monitor his on-task behavior. The study also employs a single subject withdrawal design (A-B-A-B) to demonstrate the therapeutic outcomes of the intervention.
Finally, Schoenfeld and Janney summarize existing research on the prevalence of anxiety disorders in students with EBD, the academic effects of anxiety disorders, and the school interventions designed to ameliorate them. They offer conclusions regarding the state of educational intervention for these students and highlight the scarcity of studies related to anxiety in students with EBD and relevance of these findings to the field of EBD. More research is needed to understand how academic performance is affected by anxiety intervention in educational settings.
We hope that this selection of peer-reviewed, original research provides readers with knowledge and insight that promotes more effective supports and services for youth with and at-risk for emotional and behavioral disorders. We also would like to thank the many reviewers who have made this special issue of ETC possible by sharing their valuable time and expertise. We extend our special thanks to Ms. Wendy Oakes, who served as the Assistant Editor for the special issue of ETC. Her diligent attention to the logistics of the review process has made this publication possible. Finally, we want to invite readers to join us at the TECBD Conference to celebrate a tradition of exemplary scholarship and dedication that was embodied in the life of Robert B. Rutherford.
Sarup R. Mathur, Carl J. Liaupsin, and Heather Griller-Clark Co-editors