Serious emotional disturbance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In U.S. healthcare, SED is an acronym for serious emotional disturbance (or in some areas, severely emotionally disturbed).


34 Code of Federal Regulations § 300.8. Child with a disability.

(c) Definitions of disability terms The terms used in this definition of a child with a disability are defined as follows:

     (i) Emotional disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a

child ’s educational performance:

        (A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. 
        (B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. 
        (C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. 
        (D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. 
        (E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. 
     (ii) Emotional disturbance includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance under paragraph (c)(4)(i) of this section. 

Last Amended: 71 FR 46756, Aug. 14, 2006 Entered: June 10, 2009


The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) has identified the following characteristics and behaviors as typical of children with emotional disturbances:

  • Inappropriate types of behavior under normal circumstances, such as aggression or self-injurious behavior
  • Hyperactivity (short attention span, impulsiveness)
  • Withdrawal or a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression (failure to initiate interaction with others, retreat from exchanges or social interaction, excessive fear or anxiety)
  • Development of physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems
  • Immaturity (inappropriate crying, temper tantrums, poor coping skills)
  • An inability to build and maintain relationships with peers and teachers
  • Learning difficulties that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors (academically performing below grade level) [1]

It is important to remember that these are only examples of how these characteristics MIGHT be met. Each case is individual.


  1. ^ NICHCY Factsheet on Emotional Disturbance, retrieved November 21, 2006 Archived October 15, 2006 at the Wayback Machine