Group worries kids with other disabilities forgotten amid autism crisis

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





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