Emotional disability 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.

  • An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors.
  • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
  • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
  • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
  • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disability.

Links to Your Life

An emotional disability is a condition that may disrupt a person’s ability to relate to others, while impacting their feelings, mood, and daily functioning. Children with an emotional disability may exhibit distorted thinking, excessive anxiety, or abnormal mood swings.

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities: Emotional Disability


Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning (CSEFEL)

The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning is focused on promoting the social emotional development and school readiness of young children from birth to age five. CSEFEL’s site hosts regular live chat sessions with child development experts in which you can ask questions via email and receive real time responses. The site also offers a wealth of information on topics such as feelings, playtime and fostering independence.

Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (FFCMH)

The Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health is a national family-run organization that advocates for the rights of children and youth with emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges and their families. The Foundation provides leadership and technical assistance to a nation-wide network of family-run organizations.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI’s site offers information on every aspect of living with mental illness, as well as on-line support groups, a newsroom and an on-line magazine.

National Center for Dually Diagnosed (NADD)

The National Center for the Dually Diagnosed provides information and support to professionals, care providers and families to promote understanding of and services for individuals who have developmental disabilities and mental health needs. The NADD also offers on-line training and certification classes on a variety of mental health topics.

Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health

The Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health is a grassroots coalition of family and advocacy organizations dedicated to improving services for children with mental health needs across Maryland. The site has information specific to the needs of Maryland users. It hosts webinars, has on-line fact sheets, and links to support groups across the state.

Center for School Mental Health – University of Maryland School of Medicine (CSMH)

The mission of the Center for School Mental Health is to strengthen policies and programs in school mental health in order to improve learning and promote success for America’s youth.  The site contains updates on Mental Health initiatives, useful links and information about CSMH studies.