Walker, H. M., Forness, S. R., Kauffman, J. M., Epstein, M. H., Gresham, F. M., Nelson, C. M., & Strain, P. S. (1998). Macro-Social Validation: Referencing Outcomes in Behavioral Disorders to Societal Issues and Problems. Behavioral Disorders , 24 (1), 7-18. 


In this article we address the issues of research and advocacy within the fields of special education and behavioral disorders. During the past two decades, special education professionals and advocates have created an unfortunate context in which our field has become extremely politicized and fragmented as a result of internal strife and turf battles. Externally, special education is often perceived by professionals in other fields as strife-ridden, expensive, litigious, consumed with legislative mandates and court orders, and ineffective. These perceptions have damaged special education's status and ability to pursue its agenda effectively. By association, the field of behavioral disorders has also suffered from these perceptions. We discuss these outcomes and their impact. We make the case (a) that behavioral disorders stands at a crossroads in its vulnerability to these same outcomes and (b) that we need to rededicate ourselves to empirical inquiry and use our collective expertise to address problems that are of great concern to children and families as well as the larger society and for which solutions are urgently needed. In so doing, we may achieve a degree of macro-social validation for our efforts which we do not currently enjoy. The term, macro-social validation, as used herein, refers to recognition, approval and valuing of a field's professional activities by the larger constituencies affected by them such as the general public, U.S. Congress, and policy-makers.