Some teachers say that all kids are emotionally disturbed nowadays - just like how many special education teachers like to say all students are "special ed."
I'm on the fence regarding both these sayings. Just for today, I'll write about the emotionally disturbed students I've worked with.
This kid was my favorite. I have pretty self-involved reasons for thinking she is my favorite, but she really is a sweet kid. I sometimes wonder how she's doing now. She's in the third grade this year.
Another a student was in a horrific car accident with you younger sister. They both survived obviously, but some of their family members in their same car didn't. It affected the younger sister much more than the older one - at least in outward behaviors. The younger sister would cry and run away from her classroom. CT#3 would track her down while I taught, and bring her back to our room. Her older sister would help calm her down. Once she was calm, she would sit in the back and look at the lizard. She could sit there for hours, playing a staring contest with Harvey the Chinese Water Dragon. Eventually, she learned to stay in her own classroom without freaking out. It took the better part of the fall. She taught me the value of having a pet in the classroom.
Another student had an ingrained habit of what CT#2 called, "Alpha male" behaviors. CT#2 would know, he was an alpha male too. The student in question got really tense and anxious for seemingly no apparent reason at least twice a day. His story involved gang activity, both parents in jail, drugs, homelessness, and having been abandoned at the mall with his little brother. His behaviors included stealing, breaking things, defacing school property, intense bullying, swearing, and shouting out inappropriate comments at any given time. He would not pay any female teacher any attention at all. There was a staff member on campus, who's phone number was taped in bold print next to the phone, trained to specifically restrain this student. One day, under my watch, he ran out of the classroom and wouldn't come back. He was found in the boy's bathroom, digging holes out of the plaster walls with a compass.
All three students went to the resource teacher and saw the school psychologist on a regular basis. With the exception of Car Accident Girl, these students had IEPs and would most likely be tracked in special ed classes for the rest of their public education careers.
There isn't much else I want to say regarding emotionally disturbed students. I know I'll probably meet up with more. I definitely need more practice and training dealing with these students - the second example especially. He was highly volatile. CT#2 didn't teach me how to handle him, other than say I needed to be male. I did learn (on my own) that power struggles are not worth it.