The effective learning of students with BESd is impeded on different levels. At a personal level, BESd can be manifested through the destruction of students' own work, pre‐empting of failure, a low tolerance of frustration, attention‐seeking behaviours, and having difficulty forming relationships. It is common for students with BESd to develop anxieties about going to school. At a verbal level it takes the form of making frequent interruptions, being argumentative or abusive, or even refusing to speak. Non‐verbal indicators could be school phobia, destructive and aggressive behaviour, making inappropriate responses to perceived provocation, and difficulty with following rules. At a work skills level the following are typical signs of BESd: students find it difficult to work with others in a learning setting; they are unable to follow instructions or complete tasks; they might possess a short concentration span and have poor organizational skills. It is not uncommon for students with BESd to interrupt and impede the learning of others.
In addition to the above descriptors there is usually evidence of underachievement which does not reflect general levels of ability. Very often the young person is unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions. The above indicators are not a finite list.
Where there is an escalation of BESd, students will not make adequate progress despite special educational needs support intervention, and these difficulties become a significant barrier to learning. This is usually an indicator that support and advice should be sought from the appropriate external agencies, and highly individual and differentiated educational plans need to be implemented.