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Behaviour Exceptionality


Ministry Definition... A learning disorder characterized by specific behaviour problems over such a period of time, and to such a marked degree, and of such a nature, as to adversely affect educational performance, and that may be accompanied by one or more of the following:

  1. an inability to build or to maintain interpersonal relationships;
  2. excessive fears or anxieties;
  3. a tendency to compulsive reaction;
  4. an inability to learn that cannot be traced to intellectual, sensory, or other health factors, or any combination thereof.

Medical terminology often used:

Mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorders;
Personality disorders;
Conduct disorders including Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Disruptive Disorder;
Anxiety Disorders;
Impulse Control disorders such as ADHD. 


  • Placement and interventions can vary with students identified as being Behaviourally Exceptional as it will depend on the age of the student and the nature, severity and cause of the behaviour.
  • It is important to remember that the behaviour you are observing is a way of the student coping with social emotional and mental health issues.
  • There have been several studies which showed that a high percentage (up to 80%) of young children referred for psychiatric therapeutic intervention for behavioural issues, had concurrent delays in the developmental of oral language, despite indications of average intelligence and have Communication Exceptionalities - learning disability  (See Learning Disability).
  • In addition, many students who have Attention Deficit Disorders are placed in behavioural programs because of hyperactive behaviour.


However, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not considered to be a separate exceptionality as there are many people with ADD or ADHD who are very high functioning and manage this disorder well with and without medication. 

What is significant about this disorder is that it is more about having difficulty extracting salient information or sensory input from non salient information and sensory input (such as being able to filter out background noise) and energy control than about hyperactivity. 

ADD and ADHD are neurological conditions that are medically diagnosed.