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Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has sent an e-mail or tweet to their elected official through CADDAC’s online advocacy campaign. To-date, 178 e-mails have been sent through our Ontario campaign and 289 through our national campaign as well as countless tweets. More are being added every day. A special thanks to those of you who have taken the extra time to share your personal thoughts and stories in the e-mails to your elected officials. It is these personalized e-mails that touch politicians the most. 

I would also like to encourage those of you who have not yet contacted your elected official and Minister of Education through this quick and easy tool, to please do so.  Since CADDAC has a newsletter following of over six thousand, we sincerely hope to see many more e-mails sent.

I would also like to encourage all of you to share this information with your contact lists. Please access E-mail text to share, which will provide you with an e-mail to send to your friends, family and colleagues. Until those in a decision-making position, understand that their constituents actually do care about students with ADHD, things will remain the same. 

At the launch of this campaign CADDAC reached out to every Ministry of Education across Canada except for Quebec. CADDAC is in the process of hiring a bilingual employee and is searching for Quebec partners to assist us in advocacy efforts in that province.    

To-date six of the twelve ministries contacted have replied to our e-mail, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, North West Territories, Yukon, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Of these all six have agreed to meet. We have already met with representatives of the Ministry of Nova Scotia and have meetings booked with the Ministries of North West Territories, Manitoba, Saskatchewan. We are waiting for the meeting times to be set for Ontario and Yukon.

During our calls we expect to discuss ways in which Ministries can improve teacher training in ADHD, ensure that students with ADHD are receiving the resources they require and increase ADHD information on ministry web sites and other platforms to ensure that ADHD is recognized as a serious learning risk. In addition, during these calls we are gathering information on the unique process each province uses to flag students with special needs, when and how they develop individual learning plans for these students and how students with ADHD fare in their process. We are also asking about the role of parents in developing individual education plans.

Due to a media release sent out on January the 21st four media interviews occurred. Interviews with Global News Radio 900 CHML Hamilton, CBC Vancouver, CHEK News Victoria, and a free lance journalist in Alberta resulted in news stories and a live news radio interview.   

When our Ministry meetings are completed CADDAC will send out another media release summarizing the meetings and comparing provincial supports for students with ADHD.

CADDAC has also sent out a request to ADHD medical professionals and ADHD support groups across Canada asking that they share the ADHD Right to Learn campaign information far and wide.    

Please take a few minutes to help us advocate for students with ADHD across Canada by sending an e-mail or tweet to your elected official and passing on the ADHD Right to Learn campaign information.      

Warm regards,

Heidi Bernhardt

CADDAC Founder and Director or Education and Advocacy

Have you heard about CADDAC’s ADHD Education campaign, ADHD Right to Learn?

Are you wondering why you should take a few minutes to contact your elected official and your Minister of Education?

Here’s Why

Elected officials believe that you, their constituents, do not care about ADHD and therefore question why they should care. We need to prove them wrong!

An e-mail or tweet from you will let them know that you do care that children with ADHD receive the special education support they need. 

Your elected officials and your Ministry of Education need to be informed that:

During CADDAC’s recent online conference I presented on school advocacy. At the end of the presentation many of the questions were let unanswered or briefly answered. Since many of these questions are common questions that CADDAC receives, I will be sharing the answers to these questions in several blog posts over the next few months.

Written by Heidi Bernhardt R.N.

Question 2

Will my Child with ADHD Receive an Individual Education Plan?

Please note that IEPs or Individual Education Plans are known as SEPs, IPPs, SSPs, and ISSPs in some provinces.

These are a sample of questions I received during my recent online CADDAC presentation on school advocacy.

Questions 

“We had a child psychologist do an assessment on her and she was diagnosed with ADHD.  The school has the report.  The principal said that ADHD doesn't get an IEP!?!?!?”

"The identification system can block a student with ADHD from receiving services if ADHD does not fit into a designated category - what are the possible designated categories for ADHD in ON?”

“I was told by my daughter's principal (in the Thames Valley District School Board) that she didn't qualify to get an IEP because ADHD doesn't get an IEP.  Is this accurate?”

“I have same issue - does not qualify for IEP - West Vancouver School District (BC).”

The short and very confusing answer is that it depends on which province you are in, the board and school your child is in and the good will and ADHD knowledge level of the principal and teachers in your child’s school.

Summary of Special Education Systems in Canada and ADHD 

This is a brief summary of the current situation across our provinces to help you understand your province’s system in context of all Canadian special education systems.    

Access post-secondary for information on the right to accommodations in this environment.   

If you currently reside in British Columbia, your child will most likely not have access to an IEP unless they have another disability that fits into one of BCs special needs categories. While BC’s Special Education Guidelines state that “ Individual Education Plan Order M638/95: sets out the requirements for school boards to design and implement individual education plans for students with special needs,” they define a student with special needs as: "A student who has a disability of an intellectual, physical, sensory, emotional or behavioural nature, has a learning disability or has special gifts or talents, as defined in the Manual of Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines, Section E.” The fact that ADHD does not fit into one of the defined categories is used to disqualify a student with ADHD from receiving an IEP. BC has indicated their intent to move to an inclusion system of identification but have not done so at this time.

Ontario has a similar system of identification using five defined categories, behaviour, intellect, communication, physical and multiple. ADHD does not fit into the criteria, or definition, of any of these categories. Therefore, schools and boards have been able to use this fact to refuse officially identifying students with ADHD as special needs students through an IPRC, or identification, placement, review committee. In December of 2011 a  Ministry Memorandum explained that a student with ADHD could be identified under any category if they have a “demonstrable learning needs”. Unfortunately, this term left room for interpretation because shortly thereafter the Ministry agreed that schools and boards have the right to set the level of impairment that would qualify a student for the designation where they see fit.

So, does a student in Ontario have the right to an IEP if they have an ADHD disability related need? The Ontario Human Rights Commission certainly believes that they have a right to accommodations and states that the Ministry leaves itself open to litigation if a student with ADHD is denied accommodations and support due to the categories of exceptionality. Access this blog for more details.

What is currently occurring in Ontario around this issue is total inconsistency across boards and even within the same board. The TDSB has stated that a student with ADHD may receive an IEP, if they are impaired, but will not allow an IPRC. This leaves the implementation of an IEP at the school’s discretion and also allows it to be pulled at the school’s discretion. Other boards seem to be accepting the Memorandum’s guidance and being more open to formally identifying students with ADHD. And other boards continue to refuse IEPs for students with ADHD. In our experience, one of the greatest indicators as to whether a student with ADHD will receive an IEP and/or special education services and accommodations in Ontario is the principal and teacher’s knowledge level of ADHD.   

For the other provinces who do recognize ADHD in a category or use a system of inclusion that does not require recognition under a category the implementation of an IEP is also hit and miss. As indicated previously, a great deal depends on how the educators working with your child interpret what they see as impairments caused by a disability. This is what will trigger more investigation and medical documentation to substantiate an exceptional learning need.

My advice to all parents across the country seeking support for their children with ADHD in our schools is to document your child’s impairments and struggles in as many ways possible. Gather medical documentation as well as examples of: academic marks and comments, work product, excess time or assistance required to complete assignments and tasks, and behaviour and social issues that are impairing your child. Do this even if your child is doing “alright” academically. Just because a child is bright and not failing does not mean they do not have a disability that required support and accommodations. It will then be up to you to use this documentation to convince your child’s principal that he/she is impaired to a level that warrants support. If your child is still being denied an IEP, I suggest that you move up the chain of command and speak with your board’s superintendent, preferably one for special education, but not all boards have this position. If you are in Ontario, I also suggest that you take advantage of the language on page 13 of Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities when speaking with your boards if they are continuing to deny access to an IEP.  

Once your child has received an IEP please know that you, as a parent, have the right to assist in the development of the IEP. Use CADDAC Accommodations Charts to assist you in this process.

Please feel free to reach out to me (heidi.bernhardt@caddac.ca) to report on your progress. I am very interested in being informed about the ongoing struggles to access support for students with ADHD.

Once you receive an IEP for your child, holding schools accountable for the implementation of an IEP is a whole other issue, but that will require another blog post, stay tuned.

If these issues are of concern to you, please stay tuned for our education advocacy campaign “ADHD Right to Learn” being launched soon.

We need all of your voices to help us effect change!

During CADDAC’s recent online conference I presented on school advocacy. At the end of the presentation many of the questions were let unanswered or briefly answered. Since many of these questions are common questions that CADDAC receives, I will be sharing the answers to these questions in several blog posts over the next few months.

Written by Heidi Bernhardt R.N.

Question 1

If one wants to consider a private school or another public school can you suggest any specific school types (Montessori, outdoor, etc.) that have a great history with ADHD kids?

This is a question that we receive frequently and unfortunately there is no easy answer. Yes, there are some individual schools (as well as some public schools) that demonstrate expertise in teaching neurodiverse kids, but they don’t fit into any one category or type of school. My advice to parents when looking at private schools, or considering changing public schools is to first learn as much as you can about how ADHD impairs learning, executive functioning and self and emotional regulation. Then build a profile for your individual child, outline their strengths and needs, and define where they are struggling. After that, research appropriate teaching strategies and classroom accommodations to assist with these impairments. Use CADDAC webinars, classroom accommodation charts and Teach ADHD Charts to do so.

Once you are informed, visit the schools you are considering in person and assess the environment. Is it somewhere your child would feel welcome and comfortable? Then, sit down with the administration for an in-depth conversation. Have them explain their understanding of ADHD. Do they develop IEPs? Ask them how they educate their staff about all neurodevelopmental disorders, their impact on learning and the appropriate teaching strategies and classroom accommodations. How do they evaluate their teachers’ knowledge and understanding of this information and their success in applying these skills?

At the end of these questions I would suggest you describe some specific scenarios that your child has experienced at school. Ask how they would react and solve these situations? How would they deal with a child that is not handing in assignments or a child that is reluctant to try new things? How about a situation were a child has reacted badly when triggered? This will allow you to get a good understanding about their knowledge level of ADHD and how they might handle situations that commonly occur with your child.

Unfortunately, I have spoken to many parents who have reported that although their private school spoke about understanding self-regulation issues during the interview, in practice, they were far better at working with children’s academic difficulties than dealing with what they saw as behavioural outbursts. They were often reactive rather than proactive during these situations and handled them much the same as the public system.    

Written by Heidi Bernhardt R.N.

Click here to download the blog in PDF format.

What exactly is this new “quadmester” system?

Instead of two semesters there will be four semesters in this 2020/2021 school year in Ontario. Two subjects will be taken per semester with each semester lasting approximately ten weeks. Students may choose in school learning or remote learning before each quadmester. If students choose in- class learning versus complete remote learning, they will be in school for approximately 2.5 hours per day, two days out of five one week and three out of five the next week. After their in-class sessions they will be expected to complete their day learning online. The days of the week that they are not in school will be spent in online learning.     

How might these changes impact our students with ADHD?

There may be a slight benefit for students with ADHD in this quadmester system because they will only need to focus on two courses at a time, rather than four. This means less juggling of multiple assignments, which is a challenge for many students with ADHD and executive functioning impairments. A more concentrated learning schedule will require a faster moving curriculum which depending on the student may be a benefit or drawback. Some students will find it difficult to keep pace requiring additional time to process and integrate new concepts. Others with ADHD who find classes too slow and boring may actually do better when classes move at a quicker pace. However, this faster pace will mean that if a student misses a day or two due to illness, they will most likely become overwhelmed fearing that they will never be able to catch up.

For most students with ADHD the expectation that they sit and listen to lecture style teaching for extended periods of time with minimal breaks will cause a problem. In addition, many of our students need to move frequently which will undoubtedly be even more restricted than usual. This will further reduce their attentional capabilities and may lead to more shifting of position, tapping, squirming etc., causing them to be unintentionally more disruptive. Also, the new schedule of moving from in-class learning to online learning at the end of the day and through the week will be difficult for students with ADHD. Consistency of routine is a necessity for those with ADHD.

Tips for students with ADHD and their parents on navigating this new quadmester system.

Written by Heidi Bernhardt R.N.

Click here to download the blog in PDF format.

All students returning to school this fall will be forced to navigate a new reality, but students struggling with ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disabilities will be exceptionally challenged. The skills that ADHD impairs such as the regulation of attention, activity, impulse, behaviour and emotion, as well as executive function are the very skills that will be challenged in this new environment.

Schools will be expecting children with self regulation and impulsivity issues, as well as impaired skills in remembering routines, planning, organization, and social interaction to follow complex instructions on what they should and should not do. Those in higher grades will also be expected to understand and follow new and varied schedules and conquer online learning with what looks like few additional resources. This new and confusing environment along with the added load on these students’ impaired skills will cause them increased stress resulting in more behavioural and academic issues.   

Anticipating this, parents are concerned. In some provinces they are being asked to make a decision about their child’s return to school with limited information. Parents want to know if their child will be provided additional support to ensure their safety. They wonder if their child will be offered additional understanding for their impairments, or be reprimanded, consequenced and ultimately excluded from their classrooms when their impairments prove too great? Of course, they hope for the latter, but some parents who have already experienced their school’s lack of understanding of ADHD impairments along with insufficient supports are rightly concerned. Their concern is so great that some parents are choosing to keep their children home. Some without the resources to do so, or others knowing that their child requires the routine and social interaction only school can provide, are opting to send their children and adolescents into the unknown.

What can parents do to help mitigate this unknown?

  1. Contact your child’s principal as soon as possible (all correspondence should be written in hard copy or sent by e-mail) to ask questions.
    • What will be your child’s support level when returning to school? Can you expect additional resources?
    • Will their environment change from what they are used to, and how?
    • Will the schedule to which they have become accustomed be altered and will it remain consistent after being altered?
    • Will your child’s IEPs and/or behavioural plan be expanded to cover these unique circumstances?
    • Will you be allowed to meet with the school to offer suggested strategies and supports – work with the school to expand the IEP or behaviour plan? 
    • How will you and the school routinely share feedback on your child’s well being and issues that arise? 
    • How will the school respond if your child finds it challenging to follow the expected rules due to their ADHD or other impairments? Is exclusion (asking your child to stay home) an option the school might consider? Knowing this will allow you time to decide how you will respond if this does occur. 
    • Has your school board developed a policy to deal with these circumstances. If so, ask the principal to send you a copy?
  2. If you are not receiving answers to your questions or you are concerned about the answers, contact your board’s special education superintendent (preferable) or your area superintendent.
  3. If you are not contacted in a timely manner or do not receive appropriate answers contact your school trustee, your local provincial representative and your provincial Ministry of Education. (Simply write one brief letter and copy everyone, stating you are concerned about your child’s return to school and require written answers to your questions)
  4. Access this Template Letter for text that you can simply cut and paste into a letter to the principal, superintendent, Trustee, Ministry or any provincial representative that you wish to contact. This is a very simple letter that you can use as is, or add to, as you see fit.
  5. You have the right to be informed about the environment your child will be going back to prior to making any decisions. You also have the right to expect your child’s needs to be met, within reason, of course. For instance, no school will be able to provide a personal EA for every student.   

What you can do to assist your child transitioning into this challenging environment?

Once you have obtained the information about the environment and situation your child will be entering, take steps to prepare them as much as possible.

  1. Review how their environment will be different this year. Discuss their worries and your concerns.
  2. Review any added rules they will be expected to follow. Do they anticipate difficulties, do you?
  3. Find ways to reiterate new rules frequently, practice and role play different scenarios that you and they anticipate will be difficult.
  4. If possible, teach your child the language needed to express when they are struggling. This is challenging for many children with ADHD, but teaching them a few simple phrases like “I’m having a hard time right now.” or “I need to get up and move.” can alert school staff that immediate intervention is required so a melt down does not occur.
  5. If you child has sensitivities or is anxious about wearing a mask, or seeing others in masks, have them practice wearing a mask and/or seeing family members in masks.

Prepare the school

Meet with the school to:

  1. Inform them of any issues that you expect may arise and strategies that you have developed with your child; 
  2. Inform them of triggers that increase your child’s stress and any tells (visual cues) that your child’s anxiety is escalating; 
  3. Inform them about your child’s language strategy (above). Stress that the staff will need to pick up on these messages consistently and act quickly for this strategy to work;
  4. Have this accommodation and any others that you have found work added to your child’s IEP; and  
  5. Discuss acceptable interventions for staff to apply once these messages are relayed. These should be added to the IEP or behavioural plan.   

The decisions made during any meeting should be followed up with a written summary. If this does not come from the school follow up with an e-mail to the principal listing the things that were agreed to in the meeting and when you expect them to be implemented. In this e-mail propose a date for a follow-up meeting to review how the strategies are working and if they need to be revised.

According to a new study on the Family Burden of Raising a Child with ADHD the cost of raising a youth with ADHD was more than five times greater compared to raising a youth without ADHD. The total economic burden per child with ADHD was $15,036 US compared to $2,848 per neurotypical child on average. This cost difference remained even after additional disorders such as intellectual impairment, oppositional defiant disorder symptoms, and conduct problems. Costs for medication and the direct treatment for ADHD were not included in these costs.

These additional costs were due:

These findings will not be surprising for families of children or grown children with ADHD, but having hard data could be very helpful in our Disability Tax Credit advocacy efforts.

CADDAC and CADDRA are currently in communication with the federal government about CRA’s handling of Disability Tax Credit applications. In a recent letter to Senator Jim Munson and Diane Lebouthillier, the Minister of National Revenue, CADDRA stated that a recent survey of ADHD medical professionals reported that they had experienced an increase in requests for additional information even when that information was present in the original application. This has resulted in the filling out these forms becoming an onerous task taking away time spent more appropriately on patient care. CADDRA members also indicated that they felt that CRA was not respecting their expertise as qualified health care practitioners. Also in this joint letter, CADDAC reported that a recent survey of individuals with ADHD and their families found that 63% of patients with ADHD were denied the DTC even when their physicians found them markedly impaired in keeping with the DTC criteria.

The letter went on to say that while CADDRA and CADDAC appreciated the work done in recent reports, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology: “Breaking Down Barriers, a critical analysis of the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan” and the “Disability Tax Credit: Medical Practitioners’ Report”, October 2018, both these reports lacked vital input from neurodevelopmental organizations such as CADDRA and CADDAC. Both organizations offered our expertise both in general and with respect to disability assistance to the government.

For additional information on the study access

https://news.fiu.edu/2019/04/raising-a-child-with-adhd-costs-five-times-more-than-raising-a-child-without-adhd-study-finds/132270

https://www.additude.com/cost-of-raising-adhd-child-study/

Note from Heidi Bernhardt, CADDAC President

I am sharing this incident with you because the CADDAC board and I personally continue to be concerned about how information on ADHD is sometimes presented in the media. Unfortunately, poor, even if well-meaning, studies and their questionable findings are being reported, using by-lines meant to be eye catching and memorable. I understand that a reporter may feel that they are only regurgitating what a researcher puts out there, but when they report on an ADHD study that they are not qualified to evaluate and do not reach out to those who are, misinformation on ADHD just keeps increasing. And using headlines and personal stories to sensationalize and misinform just makes it worse. This harms families who are already stigmatized by all the misunderstanding and myths that continue to abound about ADHD. CADDAC and CADDRA are sometimes contacted by journalists seeking out ADHD experts to evaluate and comment on a new study prior to reporting on it. This is how it should be done.

I would be very interested in hearing your comments on this topic. You can send your comments to me at resources@caddac.ca

 Huffington Post Article

On December the 7th the Huffington Post published an article titled, Mom's Postpartum Depression Linked To ADHD In Kids, Australian Study Finds ‘Parenting hostility' is connected to a child's eventual diagnosis or symptoms”. This was first brought to my attention on December the 8th when I was copied on a letter sent to the Huffington Post by a psychologist and contacted by a second psychologist concerned about the messages in this article.

In her complaint to the Huffington Post the psychologist stated that the by-line was,

incredibly damaging to parents who are parenting children with “invisible disabilities,” especially ADHD, which has already been so heavily stigmatized in the media.”

She went on to add that the byline

“… makes the results appear causal, when they are not, but it is also entirely misleading. Only several paragraphs in do you finally get to the critical point made by the researchers: “We suspect that children's challenging behaviour early in life may be connected to mother's postnatal mental health." Why not lead with that critical information? Why not avoid contributing to the vast amount of misinformation and misunderstanding that is already making it so painful for families of children with this neurodevelopmental disability?”

Although the article was edited and the title and by-line changed to “Study On Postpartum Depression And ADHD Stresses Need For Maternal Health Support, Moms shouldn't blame themselves, researchers say” by the Huffington Post within hours after receiving the complaint, I and others remain concerned about this article. The article you now see on the Huffington post if not the original article.

Here is a comment by a parent that was sent to the Huffington Post that I was copied on.

“I see that there are some areas of the article which state that mothers should not be made to feel blamed for their child's ADHD, and that a child's ADHD may contribute to depression in the parent. However, the title of the article, certain statements within it, and the direct quotes from Melissa Doody, paint an entirely different picture. These imply that depression in the mother CAN indeed cause ADHD in a child. Anyone who skims through your headlines or through this article will come away with that message…I feel sorry for Melissa Doody, since she clearly believes that she is responsible for her child's ADHD, when she is absolutely not. Spreading her self-deprecating statements around is not helpful, and is simply irresponsible.”

When I personally contacted the author of the article it was suggested to me that there was no problem with the reporting but that rather I and the psychologist who complained simply did not like the information the study highlighted. To test this theory I reached out to some other medical professionals to get their impression of this article. Several pointed out that they had significant concerns about this article and the messages it was sending. One physician stated that articles like this made her blood boil. Several mentioned the fact that fathers had been completely left out of the equation and that this was another case of blaming the mother for the child’s problems.

I consider this another version of the ‘Blame the mother syndromes’ that were taught to me in med school.  I could argue quite passionately that the dysregulated infant who will later in childhood be diagnosed with ADHD is in fact the cause of the mother's postnatal depression.”

And

“However, this also brings me to my other major concern with both the article and the study itself: it is hideously gendered, and contributes to further mother-blaming in the world of mental health. There is no mention of fathers at all, and yet "parenting" is the term used, where what they're really looking at is ‘mothering.’"

Upon examining the actual study professionals commented that,

“…critical confounding variables are unaccounted for (i.e. most notably, the genetic links between ADHD, anxiety, and mood disorders), are all weak, at best.”

And

“Also important is to note that they did not control for cigarette or alcohol use during pregnancy or pre or perinatal birth complications when exploring the association between maternal post natal mental health and offspring symptoms of ADHD.”

A few other issues with the study were noted; children were not necessarily diagnosed with ADHD but rather reported to have ADHD by their parents; depression was not evaluated as to whether it was an on-going depression or a postpartum depression; mothers were not screened for ADHD.

I received other comments questioning the validity of this study’s finding and expect to receive more in the future, but since I am still receiving correspondence on this article from concerned parents and professionals I felt that it was important to comment on it sooner rather than later.

If necessary, I will write a follow-up on the actual study itself once it has been further analyzed.

Again, please feel free to let me know what you feel about this issue at resources@caddac.ca

Heidi Bernhardt

March 29, 2018

Dear Premier Wynne,

We at CADDAC were very interested when we heard your announcements regarding additional funding for special education and mental health.

Childhood ADHD

While this additional funding is welcome and certainly needed, the Ontario parents of students with ADHD are questioning how this additional funding will benefit their children. The fact is that if students with ADHD continue to be excluded from the categories of exceptionality by the Ontario Ministry of Education, and school boards in Ontario continue to use this fact to bar students with ADHD from officially being recognized as exceptional students this funding will mean next to nothing for them.

We have been promised that ADHD will be included as its own category in the new British Columbia Special Education Guidelines by both the former Liberal and now the new NDP governments. Yet there has been no change in Ontario in the past ten years, while other similar neurodevelopmental disorders, that are less prevalent, and often less impairing are listed.

I am attaching a letter that you sent to me ten years ago, outlining the very same response that we continue to receive from the Ontario Ministry of Education. Yet, despite all of these assurances we continue to hear from frustrated, desperate parents sharing heart breaking stories of children being stigmatized and suspended for their medical disability.

While the matter of including ADHD within a category of exceptionality is made out to be insignificant and a mere technicality, in reality it is causing huge issues for many of our students as a recent survey of parents has demonstrated. While it may not be the Ministry’s intent when excluding ADHD from a category of exceptionality, the message educators are receiving is that ADHD is not a disability and does not impair learning enough (even when abundant research tells us otherwise) for the Ministry and boards and therefore teachers to take it seriously. Teachers have shared this belief with us countless times, and they convey it directly to students by accusing them of not trying hard enough. Parents are told that ADHD does not qualify their child for special education support because it does no impair the child “enough”.

Interesting things happen when disorders are listed in a category, education for educators flows and students with ADHD are better understood and supported and representation occurs on SEAC’s and on MACSE giving a voice to those with ADHD.

Many Ontario parents that we hear from on a daily basis are frustrated beyond belief. They have expressed doubt that change will happen for their children with ADHD n Ontario under your present leadership.

However, I do think that this could change. I believe that they would really like to support your proposed funding initiatives for special education and mental health however it seems that children with ADHD have been left out again. Parents will require an honest guarantee that this funding would indeed benefit their children with an explanation of how this would occur. Unfortunately they have lived with platitudes and rhetoric for far too long.

Adult ADHD

Adults with ADHD also see themselves as excluded. There was no mention of therapy for those with ADHD, only anxiety and depression. Research informs us that untreated ADHD can cause anxiety and depression and that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is hugely beneficial for those with ADHD. When we treat anxiety and depression without treating the underlying ADHD all treatment is unsuccessful. In addition, adults with ADHD are being charged over OHIP for assessments. Why are some mental health disorders supported in your additional funding and other not?

We are also contacted by adults with ADHD routinely and I just presented to a large group of Ontario adults with ADHD. I believe that this group would also really like to support your plan for additional funding for mental health, but they too find that they have been given no reason to do so.

I would like to meet with you Premier Wynne to discuss how we can assure those with ADHD that your initiates will offer them additional support and services.

Sincerely,

Heidi Bernhardt

President, Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada

 

With cc to

Hon Indira Naidoo-Harris

inaidoo-harris.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Hon Helena Jaczek

hjaczek.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Children with ADHD require specialized parenting. Most parents parent somewhat inconsistently, but this is not good enough for children with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). The more severe the ADHD and ODD is, the greater the necessity for specialized and consistent parenting.

When one spouse has undiagnosed and untreated ADHD or another disorder of self-regulation the consistent, unified and specialized parenting required becomes very difficult to implement. The parent with the self-regulation disorder will find it very difficult to be consistent in their parenting. Issues with emotional dysregulation will most likely also be apparent in parents with these untreated disorders. This will make it difficult for them to remain calm and model appropriate self-regulation when the child displays unwanted behaviours caused by their own regulatory issues. This can cause significant issues in the parent/child relationship as well as the spousal relationship.

Parents must be able to accept the diagnosis of ADHD and agree with the concept that ADHD is a medical neurodevelopmental disorder. ADHD cannot be trained out of the child. The parent you cannot “fix” the child, rather the parent will need to adapt and change how you are interacting with, supporting and advocating for the child.

These children will require far more and closer parental monitoring due to their attention dysregulation, impulsivity and hyperactivity and their impairments in executive functioning and self and emotional regulation. They will drift off task or into unwanted behaviour more easily and lose track of time.

Parents will need to learn as much as they can about ADHD, so they can understand their child. They will need to learn why the child is having difficulty doing what is being asked of them and at the same time unable to resist doing things they should not be doing. Parents will need to re-frame their thinking of common ADHD behaviour from being a result of lack of willpower, motivation or childhood manipulation, to being caused by neurodevelopmental impairments due to a medical disorder.

Parents must create supportive environments by reducing conflict as much as possible and put structures and supports in place to offset impairments. Rules will need to be very clear and consistent with immediate positive rewards when followed. Parents will be required to be proactive rather than reactive, anticipating times, and situations that trigger behaviours and have a plan in place for when behaviours happen.

It is common for the majority of ODD negative behaviours to occur in the home and with the parent who is most familiar. It is important that parents do not take the child’s behaviours, moods and ODD, disrespect personally.

Be aware that some of the things you are asking your child to do may not be in their control. Insisting on this can lead to decreased self- esteem, anxiety, withdrawal, acting out and depression and loss of motivation. Research has shown that before a child with ADHD reaches 12 they have received more than 200,000 negative messages.

Parents will need to spend time learning about their child’s medical and psychological profile. They will need to understand their child strengths and needs before good parenting practices can be out in place. Once this is done, strategies can be put in place to help the child improve their daily functioning. Daily effort in teaching and practicing executive functioning skills can help the child improve on these skills, however, it will take a great deal of consistent effort on the parents part.

Due to all of these parenting requirements parents can become overwhelmed and exhausted needing to take time out to regroup and replenish their own strength. Having support and respite system in place for parents of children with ADHD can help the well-being of the entire family.

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