ADHD Education Report Card Reflection
The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC) recently put out a policy paper entitled 2021 Report Card: ADHD in the School System. This paper a 10-year follow-up to a similar report the CADDAC shared in 2010.
In response, I and representatives from other agencies were interviewed by CityNews for our perspectives on supporting students with ADHD in Manitoba’s schools.
Adults need to look beyond and beneath student behaviour. A child who acts out may be stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, lacking skills, or neurodevelopmentally incapable of meeting the expectations at that moment in time.
Rather than labelling these behaviours — or worse, the children themselves — as “defiant”, disobedient, or willfully choosing not to follow the rules, it’s so important that adults understand and seek out the underlying factors contributing to the concerning behaviours.
We’re not going to change someone’s neurological development through rewards and consequences, behaviour plans, sticker charts, detentions, or suspensions. We’re not going to change someone’s neurological writing at all.
Instead, the focus must be on how to accommodate and support the student so they can do their best, in a way that preserves their autonomy, dignity, and self-concept.
The responsibility falls on us, the adults, to help children learn the skills they need, and to create an environment of caring, acceptance, and understanding — rather than one that expects, even demands, compliance — so that children feel safe and connected to their school community.
Sadly, I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of that right now. The political powers that be don’t seem to value our children’s education much, at least not in the ways that matter — the ways that provide resources and funding.
Our Minister of Education and provincial government need to provide much better funding to our schools. This would allow divisions to hire qualified staff to support complex students, educate staff about neurodiverse conditions and disabilities, and provide adequate supports for both staff and students.
Our children spend over 30 hours per week with the adults working in their schools. Of those children, approximately 20% have complex learning and behaviour needs, such as ADHD and learning disabilities.
Until we provide the staff proper education and training, and the resources to provide appropriate supports, we are failing at least 20% of our students. According to 2019–2020 enrolment data, that’s 190,000 children in Manitoba, and 5 million children in Canada.
That is neither “good”, nor satisfactory.
Read my full article and reflection in Neurodiversified.
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