A new diagnosis: a new educational challenge





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In the early 1980s, Bipolar disorder first entered the mental health literature as a diagnostic category. Since that time, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder has increased both in the adult as well as the juvenile population. This capstone deals with the stresses within the educational system faced with this new and increasing category of disabled students. In a qualitative analysis, students diagnosed with bipolar disorder were questioned as to what the educational experience in general and teachers in particular should know about their disorder in order to facilitate a successful educational experience. The analysis of the data from the questionnaire clearly indicates that these students do not view themselves as dumb or inept that they readily acknowledge their various and at times disruptive mood shifts as well as have a clear understanding of the crucial need of appropriate medications as the foundation for both personal and academic success. What these students desire from teachers is an understanding that even though they outwardly appear normal they remain quite different from other students. These students are convinced, based on their own experience, that a non-judgmental environment along with supportive relationships with teachers, they can be successful within the current educational system.

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