Dispelling the Myths about ADHD



    CADDAC calls for more support in Ontario classrooms

    TORONTO, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - While a new school year is well underway, the
stress and anxiety levels of many parents and students faced with the
challenges of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has only just
begun.
    In a week that marks the launch of its first ever Awareness Campaign, the
Centre for ADHD Advocacy in Canada (CADDAC) is working hard to promote
understanding, dispel myths and stimulate advocacy and support for families
dealing with ADHD.
    ADHD is a recognized neurobiological disorder, an illness of the nervous
system and is the most common mental health disorder diagnosed in children. It
is estimated that five to 12 per cent of Canadian children are living with
ADHD and 80 per cent maintain their diagnosis into adolescence. In Ontario,
there is an average of two students with ADHD in every classroom.
    "There are so many myths and misunderstandings about ADHD and not nearly
enough support, especially in our education system," says Heidi Bernhardt,
national director of CADDAC and a mother of three ADHD children. "Through
advocacy and an increased understanding of the issues and challenges of
addressing ADHD, we hope to change perceptions and to bring positive change
for those families who are very desperate for help."

    Not enough support

    One significant goal of the campaign is to ensure ADHD is recognized by
Canadian education systems as a legitimate disorder that affects a child's
learning. Currently in Ontario, a diagnosis of ADHD does not qualify a student
for a special needs designation in most school boards, this designation gives
these students the right to receive accommodations in the way they are taught
and evaluated. There is also no consistency in Ontario on how children with
ADHD are serviced or if they are serviced at all.
    "This inequity creates a nightmare for parents and the students who are
desperate for support. This is not a simple disorder with simple solutions. It
is multi-faceted and requires a cohesive plan between parents, educators, the
government and physicians," says Bernhardt. "If we can convince educators and
the Ministry of Education to implement these changes, we can greatly increase
the chance that these students, who are just as intelligent as other students,
will stay in school and reach their academic potential."
    In a recent letter from Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education, she
publicly stated: "School boards have obligations under the Ontario Human
Rights Code to accommodate students with ADHD since the Ontario Human Rights
Commission regards ADHD as a disability; therefore, such students have
protections under the Code."
    However, because students with ADHD can only be identified under the
category of Learning Disability or Behaviour, only if these other diagnoses
apply, a diagnosis of ADHD will not qualify a student for a special needs
designation in most Ontario school boards. Without a clear mandate from the
Ontario Ministry of Education recognizing ADHD as a legitimate medical
condition that affects a child's learning and instructing the boards to
identify it as such, the majority of students with ADHD will continue to slip
through the cracks of our provincial education system. This discrepancy
clearly contradicts the Ontario Human Rights Code.
    "ADHD children and adolescents suffer and they shouldn't have to," says
Dr. Umesh Jain, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD at
the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. "We can make a
difference in the quality of their school life by implementing accommodations
within the school but that is just not happening. There continues to be
significant misconceptions around ADHD. This is a well-established medical
condition and requires accommodations. It doesn't take much but it can mean
the difference between school success and failure. We need to do the right
thing."

    CADDAC is a not-for-profit organization that provides leadership in
education and advocacy for ADHD organizations and individuals with ADHD across
Canada. CADDAC provides a wide-range of information for children, parents,
doctors and educators on their website www.caddac.ca.





For further information:

For further information: or to arrange interviews with parents, children
or doctors, please contact: Heidi Bernhardt, National Director, CADDAC, (416)
637-8584, heidi.bernhardt@caddac.ca.

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CENTRE FOR ADD/ADHD ADVOCACY, CANADA

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