Cynthia Fashaw

Recent Articles

Addressing EBD through special education


Parents have a say in deciding their child’s classroom setting



Thus far in this series, we have talked about children’s challenging behaviors: what’s typical, when to be concerned, strategies to work with the school to help your child with challenging behaviors, and what to do when those strategies fall short of meeting your child’s needs. We have also covered special education: what it is, how to get an evaluation, who is eligible, and some questions to bear in mind when considering placement options. This section provides an overview of emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EBD). Emotional and/or behavioral disorders are not a mental health or psychiatric diagnosis. EBD is a term used in special education to describe children who have an established pattern of one or more of the following:


• Developmentally inappropriate behaviors that are aggressive, hyperactive impulsive, physically or verbally abusive, destructive or intimidating

• Disordered thought processes manifested by unusual behavior patterns, inappropriate laughter, crying, sounds or language; self-mutilation, or developmentally inappropriate sexual acting out; obsession with specific objects, rigidity, overly affectionate behavior towards unfamiliar persons; or hallucinations or delusions of grandeur


• Withdrawn or anxious behaviors, pervasive unhappiness, depression or severe problems with mood; exhibiting intense fears or school phobia, developing physical symptoms related to worry or stress, or changes in eating or sleeping patterns


• Has unsatisfactory educational progress that is not primarily a result of intellectual, sensory, physical health, cultural, or linguistic factors, illegal chemical use, autism spectrum disorders or inconsistent educational programming


• An inability to exhibit social competence — their social behavior is significantly different than what is culturally, age or ethnically appropriate. Continue Reading →

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Placement critical in special education Parents need to ensure their child’s best interests are served




Placement of a child who is eligible for special-education services is likely one of the most misunderstood aspects of special education, despite the fact that for many African American parents it can have a great impact on their child’s education. It is crucial to know what a placement is, what goes into determining a placement, what to look for in a good placement, and your right to have a placement reassessed if it is not working for a child. Placement refers to how much of your child’s school day is spent in a regular classroom or a special-education classroom, and is referred to as a “setting” or “level.” Federal law defines settings or levels from one to six. “Setting one” is placement primarily in the regular education classroom, while “setting three” is primarily in a special-education classroom. “Settings four, five and six” are placements in a separate school or program. Continue Reading →

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First steps toward getting help for a child



Having a child with challenging behaviors can at times seem overwhelming. It can seem even more so if the child is having difficulties in school. Parents and caregivers may receive frequent calls or letters from school regarding their child’s behavior, as well as requests to meet with school staff. The following steps can start you on the path to dealing with your child’s challenging behaviors:

Step 1: Start by contacting your child’s teacher. Work to develop a plan to deal with the behavior. Continue Reading →

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Kids behaving badly: Misbehavior at school may mean a child needs help


This new series of articles is intended to help parents and caregivers learn how they can help their child with challenging behaviors successfully navigate through the services and supports available in the public school system. It is also intended to give information about the process to get appropriate help, who to contact if you disagree with assessment or services or have a complaint, and to give parents and caregivers information about where they can access information about the many services and supports available to help students succeed.  

Children may have challenging behaviors as a normal part of childhood and adolescence. They may have problems learning or may get into trouble from time to time; they may have imaginary friends, seek attention from adults with negative behavior, have a number of fears, show off or use bad language to get attention, or exhibit aggressive behavior toward peers or family members. Adolescents may forget their homework or fail to turn it in, refuse to follow directions, have a bad attitude, get failing grades or even get into trouble at school. Continue Reading →

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Kids with special needs need special help


Parents must learn how to make the special education system work for their children


By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer


Perception is a powerful thing. For instance, when people perceive problems with mental health, learning disabilities or other conditions that may negatively affect thinking and/or behavior as a reason to look down on, stereotype or shun someone, people with these conditions may as well have leprosy. Or it may be a ripe opportunity to take advantage of an individual whose problems have made them vulnerable. Perceive it as a fact of life and you realize human beings contending with such a difficulty are exactly that, no less human than yourself and entitled to the same respectful consideration. Which is how the National Alliance on Mental Illness (

NAMI) renders itself a significant community resource, improving perception by providing information that helps make a difference in the minds of “normal” people. Continue Reading →

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