“What Teachers Need to Know about Pediatric Bipolar Disorder”
The number of children diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder has increased 4,000% from 1994 to 2003. Researchers have identified the need for teachers’ professional development in this area but have not specified what teachers need to know to effectively educate students. The problem addressed was this lack of clinical knowledge and training. The purpose of this qualitative study was to obtain opinions from teaching experts and an advisory panel about what teachers need to know about pediatric bipolar disorder. A Delphi design was used to achieve consensus from 19 experts in the fields of education and medicine. A Likert scale was used as a measure to determine the degree of value and consensus of each theme, and 3 rounds of review were conducted to narrow the list of themes. Consensus of the top 10 themes regarding what teachers need to know provided potential curriculum content including behavior management; effects on cognition; classroom accommodations; triggers for potentially challenging behavior; evidence-based teaching strategies for this population; academic challenges that children with PBD face; the symptoms of PBD; how to establish and maintain effective communication between parents, teachers, and healthcare providers; medication side effects; and comorbid symptoms. One recommendation included development of teacher training. Social change implications will impact teachers, students, families, and school districts by providing a curriculum sufficient to enhance clinical knowledge. Increasing clinical knowledge may improve academic competency and may decrease suicide rates, hospitalizations, residential placements, and juvenile criminal justice involvement; moreover, these benefits can be realized within the least restrictive environment among peers.