The California School Psychologist

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 93–105 | Cite as

Current Educational Practices in Classifying and Serving Students with obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • Gail B. Adams
  • Thomas J. Smith
  • Sara E. Bolt
  • Patrick Nolten


Current educational practices for classifying and serving students with mental health disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have been associated with specific problems. These include the stigma of labeling, misalignment of school-based categories (e.g., E/BD, OHI) with clinical diagnoses, and concerns regarding the provision of appropriate services to these students. In the present study, Illinois school psychologists completed a survey on current practices for classifying and serving students with a primary diagnosis of OCD. The results indicated that 0.7% of the students served by school psychologists had a primary diagnosis of OCD. The majority of these students (74.5%) were served under IDEA. Of the students receiving services under IDEA, 51.4% were classified under E/BD and 31.8% under OHI. Approximately two-thirds of the students with OCD (67.1%) were educated in less restrictive settings (e.g., regular classroom with or without resource/part-time special class). School psychologists’ comments suggested a pattern of ambiguity and uncertainty surrounding the appropriateness of IDEA categories for OCD, concerns regarding the stigma of labeling, and problems related to providing appropriate services to these students. Response-to-Intervention (RtI) as an alternative to current evaluation practices is proposed and recommendations for improving traditional categorical service delivery models when RtI is not implemented are provided.


obsessive-compulsive disorder mental disorders emotional disturbance behavioral disorders other health impaired labeling (of persons) school psychologists 


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Copyright information

© California Association of School Psychologists 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail B. Adams
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Smith
    • 1
  • Sara E. Bolt
    • 2
  • Patrick Nolten
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Teaching and LearningNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA
  2. 2.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Illinois Indian Prairie School District 204AuroraUSA

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