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.


“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 ( 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.

What You Need to Know

Autism disorder commonly coexists with ADHD with 20-50% of children with ADHD meeting the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD). Even when symptom levels do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism, we often see common symptoms of Autism present in children with ADHD. ADHD on the other hand is the most common coexisting disorder in children with Autism, 30-80% of ASD children meet the criteria for ADHD.

Research on this significant co-existence led the American Academy of Psychiatrists to revise their guidelines. Prior to 2013 physicians were not allowed to diagnose both disorders in the same child, however the new DSM 5 guidelines now allow for the dual diagnose ADHD and Autism.

More Facts:

Current Research

Some researchers have been pondering whether these two disorders might possibly be the same disorder with different presentations, but research to-date has been inconclusive. Genetic studies show some similarities, but brain imaging indicates both differences and similarities. Researchers are also questioning whether similar appearing impairments seen in the two disorders, such as attention dysregulation, may actually be caused for two different reasons.

At the same time, other researchers are pondering if we should be looking at a different way to think about mental and neurological disorders altogether. Rather then looking at the disorders through their diagnostic labels, we should be conducting joint studies looking at ways to categorize under common traits. An example is a study by the POND Network in Ontario, which looked at the inability of study participants with Autism, ADHD and OCD to read other people’s emotions by looking at their eyes. This has generally been thought to be an Autism trait, but researchers found the same inability in participants with ADHD. Therefore, children with ADHD would also struggle with impaired social functioning. Knowing this would greatly assist in initiating appropriate supports.

Why Should Parents of Children with ADHD Know About Autism?

One of the most important things we need to understand as parents of children with ADHD is our child’s unique profile. When we understand their individual set of strengths and impairments, rather than just a generalized list of ADHD symptoms, we can put appropriate supports and accommodations in place and make knowledgeable decisions about appropriate treatments. With the overlap of these two disorders many children with ADHD will also present with traits seen in Autism, even when they do not meet diagnostic criteria. Only after my grandson was diagnosed with dual ADHD and Autism, did I delve into the world of Autism literature more deeply. I was surprised how much this also assisted me in understanding some of those “more unique” traits of two of my three sons with ADHD.

ADHD, Autism and Schools

Another reason to understand the interplay of these two disorders is for the purpose of school advocacy. Although many of the learning and self-regulation impairments that students with ADHD experience are very similar to those of students with Autism, ADHD is not included in the categories of exceptionality in Ontario, British Columbia or Quebec. Ministries of Education use these categories to define students with special learning needs and approve additional resources. Therefore, students with ADHD although also impaired do not qualify due to their specific diagnosis. In a past blog post CADDAC summarized a recent Ontario Human Right Commission’s paper addressing this issue.

The situation has become so bad that physicians report parents coming to them asking for a diagnosis of Autism rather than ADHD because they know that this will get their child access to learning resources that these kids desperately need. Of course, this is not a discretionary choice on a physician’s part, but how sad that it has come to this.

Perhaps we all need to do a better job of educating our elected officials and Ministries of Education on the research and how greatly these two disorders actually overlap.

For more information please access these resources

Although I was well aware of the OHRC’s new policy I watched both training session videos from start to finish. I strongly recommend that anyone interested in the issue of accessible education in Ontario for students with ADHD, or any other disability, view these videos. They take a total of 85 minutes to watch. Cherie Robertson, OHRC Senior Policy Analyst and the author of the paper, does a great job of explaining the points covered in the paper. She also answers questions from the audience. ADHD is specifically discussed two separate times during the presentation.

These are my important take always from the presentations:

  1. A disability is an expected variant in the human condition not an anomaly to normalcy.
  2. The process that the education provider goes through to explore accommodation options is as important as the accommodations themselves. The request for accommodations cannot be refused without an extensive process to look at possible accommodations before accommodations can be denied. The process must be documented.
  3. Educators must accept requests for accommodations in good faith unless they have a legitimate reason to doubt the request.
  4. The education provider is entitled to ask for medical documentation to substantiate the need, but the documentation should not be used as a way to question or second guess the need. Asking for a diagnosis is not acceptable.
  5. Requests for retroactive accommodations should be accepted in good faith. To refuse will put the education provider in violation of the code. The request by the student should be done as soon as possible and medical documentation needs to be provided, but the institution must consider the request. In some cases the request may be impossible to meet due to the length of time that has passed (the course may no longer be available), but all possibilities must be explored.
  6. Institutions are required to cover the cost of the documentation that they are demanding.
  7. If documentation takes time to obtain accommodations must be implemented while waiting for the testing and/or documentation.
  8. A school cannot jump to the conclusion that a request for a certain accommodation will impair academic integrity. An entire process of reviewing options and academic integrity must be undertaken. An array of possible evaluation accommodations must be reviewed.
  9. Before a student’s behaviour is sanctioned the education provider has a duty to inquire about a disability, or if aware of a disability must consider if the actions of the student were caused by the disability. They must evaluate whether accommodations for the disability have been put in place, if they were put in place in a timely manner, and if they are sufficient. In other words, is the behaviour due to the duty to accommodate not being met?
  10. If the education provider cites health and safety risks as a reason for exclusion of the student, such a risk must be clearly demonstrated and not just anticipated. Also, accommodations must be reviewed. Are they in place and implemented? Are they effective and were they put in place in a timely manner?
  11. The Commission is aware that schools are excluding students (asking them not to attend school) rather than going through a formal process of suspension or expulsion. Under the Safe Schools Act, the principal has the power to exclude, however it was stressed that a rigorous process of evaluation of accommodation must occur. The education provider must inquire if the student’s needs have been met to the level of undue hardship which is very difficult to reach. They must also look at what is triggering the behaviour.
  12. It is the education providers’ duty to be proactive and learn about the OHR’s code. They cannot claim ignorance.
  13. The OHR’s Code prevails over the Education Act when they are in conflict. The example of, “Categories of Exceptionalities”, were used to drive this point home. It was stated that the Commission views the categories as being under-inclusive. Under the OHR’s code any student with a disability, whether listed in a category or not, has the right to accommodation.

The videos can be accessed on YouTube:

The paper can be accessed:


I read the Toronto Star article, Group worries kids with other disabilities forgotten amid autism crisis with much interest and I must say also some frustration. The below information was sent to

I wholeheartedly agree that many children with disabilities are being left out of this discussion while at the same time I applaud the parents of children with Autism for making their voices heard. We are still working at getting more parents of children with ADHD to speak out about the continued lack of recognition ADHD received in Ontario schools. Thankfully we now have some parents who are willing to speak out, but many parents unfortunately are still affected by the myths, stigma and judgment that surrounds ADHD. Hence out latest ADHD Speaks Campaign

The issues that are front and centre in the media at this time are some of the issues that we have also been discussing with Ontario Ministries of Education for almost two decades.  Similar to students with Autism many students with ADHD are being excluded from a full day of education in our Ontario school boards. ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder seen in children world wide, with incident rates at least double or triple that of Autism. And while some students with Autism can be severely impaired, students with a severe case of ADHD are more impaired than a student with mild Autism. The two disorders also frequently co-occur in the same child.

Although many of the learning and self-regulation impairments that students with ADHD experience are very similar to those of students with Autism, ADHD is not included in any of categories of exceptionality that the Ontario Ministry of Education uses to categorize stud nest with special leaning needs. This has resulted in many school boards using this as an excuse to not IPRC students with ADHD leading to inadequate resources for students with ADHD. The situation is so bad that physicians report that parents are coming to them asking for a diagnosis of Autism rather than ADHD, because they know that this will get their child access to some learning resources.that these kids desperately need. Of course this is not a discretionary choice on a physician's part, but how sad that it has come to this.

One of our major asks of the Ontario government's Ministry of Education is that ADHD be included in the categories of exceptionality. Since learning disabilities, Autism and ADHD are all neurodevelopmental disorders that impair learning, it would only make sense to group these disorders together in one category.

While on The Agenda, prior to the election, this was a promise made by Christine Elliott. Please access this link to view the interview, This segment followed an interview on the Agenda with CADDAC.

In addition, because ADHD is not included in a category of exceptionally many teachers do not view ADHD as a serious learning risk, when we have abundant research that clearly indicates that it is. We see 8-10% lower scores in literacy and numeracy for these students and far higher drop out rates, even though most are smart enough to go on to post-secondary education. Educators are also not receiving adequate training on classroom teaching strategies and accommodations that are beneficial to all students but essential to those with ADHD.

We have released several policy papers on ADHD and education over the years. Here is or latest paper,

Join the discussion about this post on our Facebook page , or become involved in our ADHD Speaks Campaign.

Heidi Bernhardt





  CADDAC encourages BC residents who are concerned about this issue to contact their MLA. 

Up-coming proposed changes to the special education funding model in BC, away from a model of designation to a prevalence based, inclusion, model may benefit students with ADHD or cause continued inequities.  Much will depend on the recognition of these vulnerable students’ needs moving forward.


In the fall of 2016 the new BC Special Education Guidelines draft was shared with CADDAC.  We were encouraged to see that ADHD was to be added under the category of Learning Disabilities. CADDAC was then informed in the spring of 2017 that students with ADHD were to be recognized in a stand-alone category. Either option was acceptable to CADDAC. Although these categories would not be tied to additional funding, it would at least be a step forward in recognizing  that these students have a disability, causing impairments, resulting in serious learning risks.

However, with the change in government everything was put on hold. During a meeting with Minister Fleming on December 4th 2017 CADDAC, as reported in a previous blog, was assured by the Minister that the Ministry was not considering changes to these guidelines and that ADHD would not be removed as a category.

Current Situation

After an e-mail exchange requesting clarification on changes to the funding model at the end of 2018 a meeting occurred on January the 30th with Kim Horn, the Executive Director, Sector Resourcing & Service Delivery of the Ministry of Education. During this meeting CADDAC learned that due to the proposed changes to a prevalence funding model, the fate of all designation categories and the new Special Education Guidelines is unknown. Unfortunately the move away from the use of designation categories and these guidelines could also mean that the clear message that ADHD was a disorder that warranted additional supports and resources for students to be able to meet their potential as learners might be lost, again leaving these student’s needs unrecognized and under serviced.

Since students with ADHD were inadequately recognized and serviced in past funding and designation models, extra care must be taken during this transition to ensure that these students be better understood and recognised as students with special learning needs.

CADDAC shared our concerns during the call and were invited to submit a paper outlining our concerns and recommendation to the Implementation Coordination Committee of the K12 Funding Review Committee.

Access CADDAC's submission Here

CADDAC’s ASK to the Ministry of BC Education

CADDAC requests that in the process of moving forward with the prevalence based funding model and the inclusion system of special education the BC Ministry of Education ensure that students with ADHD will receive equitable access to education by:

  1. Officially stating that students with ADHD are to be recognized as students with a disability resulting in learning and self-regulation impairments and by providing examples of diverse ways these students can express these special learning needs.
  2. Providing and encouraging education for educators on ADHD learning and self-regulation impairments, appropriate classroom accommodations and teaching strategies.
  3. Ensuring that sufficient funding for additional resources is provided to support an inclusive classroom model.
  4. Holding boards accountable for providing additional resources to classrooms with a heavy load of special needs learners.
  5. Truly holding boards accountable for meeting these students’ needs.
  6. Holding boards accountable that the funding they receive for special education is actually spent on special education.


With the implementation of changes to the funding and education system the BC the Ministry of Education is in a position to put policies in place that will ensure that students with ADHD receive equitable access to education and have the right to reach their academic potential.

If you have questions or would like to discuss any of these issues or suggestions please contact Heidi Bernhardt at

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