Students with ADHD and/or other neurological disorders in Ontario should
now have greater accessibility to equitable education opportunities
TORONTO, Jan. 10, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario children with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should now have easier access to special
education services following a memorandum recently sent to school
boards by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Many families in the
province have struggled for decades to access these services that their
children with ADHD need in order to succeed in school.
The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC) congratulates the
Ministry for this first step in correcting a long-standing inequity of
access to special education services.
A new Ministry memorandum to school boards states that students with
ADHD who have learning-based needs should be identified as exceptional
students, and can be recognized under a variety of categories including
behavior, communication, intellectual, physical and multiple.
Children can be categorized in the communication (learning disability)
category regardless of whether criteria for a learning disability are
met. When a child is identified in this way, an individual education
plan (IEP) must be developed and implemented by the school.
It is CADDAC's hope that school boards will follow through with the
intent of this memorandum. It is also our hope that increased training
for educators will be the next step.
"Our school systems need to become more educated about this legitimate
disorder and recognize that students with ADHD are indeed special
learners who typically require school accommodations as part of their
treatment," says Rosemary Tannock, Canada Research Chair & Professor in
Special Education & Adaptive Technology, Ontario Institute for Studies
in Education in the University of Toronto.
The Ontario Ministry of Education memorandum, "Categories of
Exceptionality", can be viewed in the special education section of the
Ministry website at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/speced/2011CategoryException.pdf
"There is an appalling inconsistency in how students with these complex
neurological disorders are recognized and supported across the
province," says Heidi Bernhardt, National Director of CADDAC.
"We receive calls almost daily from frustrated parents who are told that
ADHD does not fit under a specific special education Category of
Exceptionalities, which some boards insist is necessary for a student
to be identified. Many children are denied access to interventions
recommended by their doctor or psychologist because they did not have
the 'right' diagnosed disorder."
Although many may not recognize the significance of this memorandum, we
should all be concerned as a society that students with disorders such
as ADHD, Tourette Syndrome and other neurological and medical disorders
are being denied special education resources and interventions. These
medical disorders do not impact a child's intelligence. The students
are often bright, talented children and adolescents who, with the right
assistance at school, grow into successful, contributing members of
society. Untreated, these disorders can lead to early school dropout,
unemployment and lower paying jobs, increased medical, judicial and
economic costs to our society.
Ontario was one of three provinces to receive a failing grade in
CADDAC's first "report card" in 2010 on how provincial special
education systems identified and supported students with ADHD. All
three provinces have systems that allowed inconsistencies and
inequities in how students with ADHD receive special education services
- if they receive them at all.
CADDAC calls on all provincial governments to ensure that ADHD is recognized by
their education systems as a legitimate learning disorder and that all
students with ADHD who have special learning needs receive appropriate
supports to overcome their challenges in becoming academically
The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada is a national, not-for-profit
organization providing leadership in awareness, education and advocacy
for ADHD organizations and individuals with the disorder across Canada.
CADDAC is committed to increasing the understanding of ADHD, therefore
decreasing the stigma of ADHD by providing up-to-date scientific
information. CADDAC endeavors to network with government, professional
organizations, health care providers, educators and all other
stakeholders to improve the lives of people with ADHD. For more
information about ADHD or "Categories of Exceptionality," please visit www.caddac.ca.
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