Kids with ADHD deserve action: One Year Later

Today I reread this great letter to the editor about ADHD, ADHD treatment and ADHD in the schools here in BC. The link is below and you should read this letter yourself, it's a cry from a parent for the local school districts to do SOMETHING for students with ADHD in the schools, anything! Because what BC schools are doing for students with ADHD is totally unacceptable. It's actually nearly nothing. Here is a link to the web site and letter to the editor: http://www.burnabynow.com/health/Kids+with+ADHD+deserve+action/3699644/story.html

Here are some of the comments from the letter, and my additional comments: First, the writer talks about being "anxious and frightened on how we'll try to navigate through an education system that doesn't recognize my child's ADHD as a disorder." This is perhaps the most shocking and incomprehensible part of the letter. And it's true. ADHD, one of the disorders most likely to cause school failure, academic failure, lead to low graduation rates, low employment rates and even relates to many co-morbid disorders (such as specific learning disabilities) is IGNORED by many of our local school districts. Some districts will provide help, but only if the child is a "behavioural problem." Academic stress and failure in school aren't enough. We need to wait until there is "behavioural disruption" due to the ADHD. Strange. Backwards. And it's no wonder British Columbia is tied with two other provinces for the worse services for children with ADHD.

 The writer notes, "it is a neurological disorder that is medically recognized and that requires treatment." The writer needed to have her child tested privately to finally get the diagnosis. Let me make clear, when we say it's a neuropsychological or neurological disorder that means we can put a child into an MRI and SEE areas of the brain failing to function. ADHD is one of the most researched and tested diagnoses of all childhood disorders, yet some school district personnel still fail to accept that it even exists! The writer goes on to say, "each year, we are frustrated at the stigma associated with a chronic lack of awareness of ADHD, and lack of support and resources for a disorder that affects thousands of children." If your child has autism, the school gets funding, usually assigns an aide, and for children under 6 parents get over $20,000 in funding for treatment. Over six years of age they continue to get thousands of dollars of funding a year, both the school and directly to parents for treatment they find and make use of. In BC we have zero funding. A child suspected of having ADHD needs to be assessed and usually this means not just an ADHD assessment but also a full psychoeducational assessment as nearly 50% of these children have other disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, ODD or specific learning disabilities. Yet MSP will pay zero, and most private insurance will pay from 100-500 dollars for services. (A full diagnostic evaluation can cost from $1,200-2,600.00) When visiting schools I am usually there to see students with autism spectrum disorder or Aspergers Syndrome. These children have funding and get classroom aides, teacher training and consultation from professionals like myself or the provincial organization 9POPARD- the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders). Yet the teachers I meet who are burned out, confused, need the most help and are most likely to be the ones going out on sick/stress leave are the teachers of students with ADHD. For them, regretfully, there is little support.

 In the past few years I have been invited to consult on hundreds of students, and present workshops for teachers during their professional development periods. Only twice has a school thought it important enough to bring me in to speak about ADHD. Autism, Aspeger's Syndrome, general classroom management,and severe behaviour problems. I always tell them, the biggest bang for your buck is training your teachers in techniques and skills to work with and support students with ADHD. Every class has 1-3 students with ADHD, and the techniques and tools we teach that address ADHD work for almost every other issue. But before teachers and administrators ask for help with ADHD training they need basic education to understand and recognize ADHD.

Regretfully, we still have teachers and administrators who think ADHD is a made up excuse for laziness and poor parenting. It's time BC moved out of the dark ages of mental health. "ADHD Assessment and Treatment" are written by Dr. Jim Roche. These autism notes are not meant to provide a guide to either diagnosis or treatment. For information on diagnosis and treatment contact your medical doctor or a registered/licensed psychologist for an appointment and assessment. Information about Dr. Roche's services can be found at these addresses:

 At Relatedminds: http://www.relatedminds.com
 At ADHDHelp BC: http://www.adhdhelp.ca
 At Psychology Today: http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/70682
 At the BCPA website: http://psychologists.bc.ca/users/jimroche
 At CounsellingBC: http://www.counsellingbc.com/listings/JRoche.htm
 At Psyris: http://psyris.com/drjimroche

KEYWORDS: ADD, ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADD Coaching, ADHD Coaching, ADHD Coaching Vancouver, ADHD Coaching Burnaby, ADHD Coaching Langley, ADHD Coaching Coquitlam, Psychoeducational Assessment, Learning Disability, ADHD Diagnosis