Books About ADHD


My reading recommendations for learning about ADHD

Books About ADHD

I have compiled a collection of books about ADHD I have read and would recommend. The first section are books about parenting children with ADHD, the second section lists books about Adult ADHD, and the final section lists academic texts specifically about ADHD.


Books about parenting children with ADHD

What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew , Dr. Saline: A compassionately written book filled with practical advice that is easy to read for busy parents.

Brain-Body Parenting, by Dr. Mona Delahooke: I pre-ordered this book at the first opportunity. Having read Dr. Delahooke’s articles, as well as her previous book, Beyond Behaviours, I knew this one would be excellent. While Dr. Delahooke’s previous works have more often been written for fellow professionals and teachers, this one is written for parents. It is evidence-based, well-researched, compassionate, and written in a way that is enjoyable and accessible to anyone. I highly recommend this book for parents, teachers, and anyone who cares for children.

Unconditional Parenting, Alfie Kohn: This book takes a highly compassionate, supportive, and loving approach to parenting and to ensuring our children feel loved no matter what. When some factions of society (including a lot of educators and administrators) are telling us that children need “ consequences” (i.e. adult-imposed punishment) for making mistakes, Alfie Kohn allows us to appreciate and remember that we all make mistakes and that this an integral part of learning. If we are afraid to err, then we are afraid to try.

Taking Charge of ADHD, Dr. Russel Barkley : This is a fantastic book for parents and caregivers, I highly recommend it. While it’s full of amazing information, some of the advice conflicts with my knowledge and philosophy on parenting. Dr. Barkley is a leading expert on ADHD, but not a leading expert on parenting. You can learn more about Dr. Barkley at www.russellbarkley.org.

I Can Learn When I’m Moving, by Nicole Biscotti : This book is written by Nicole Biscotti, who is both a teacher and the parent of a 2e child (gifted with ADHD). It is a fantastic read for teachers who want to better support their classroom of both neurotypical and neurodiverse learners, as well as for parents who are trying to work with their child’s school to better support their neurodiverse child.

12 Principles for Raising a Child with ADHD, Dr. Russell Barkley : Dr. Barkley presents 12 key parenting principles that address the most common problems that ADHD poses, such as family conflicts, difficult behaviour, school problems, out-of-control emotions, and parental stress.

(More parenting reading recommendations at the bottom of this article).


Books about adult ADHD

Getting Ahead of ADHD, Dr. Joel Nigg: This book discusses and differentiates between unsupported, even dangerous, approaches to “treating” ADHD versus the benefits of healthy nutrition, exercise, and sleep. ADHD cannot be cured and there is no magic bullet, but there are very safe and effective medications, in addition to lifestyle changes, that can help one manage the symptoms and take advantage of the positives of being neurodivergent. Dr. Joel Nigg also has a blog .

A New Understanding of ADHD, Thomas Brown: This book has gone up in price and is quite expensive for a small book. That said, it is FULL of incredibly helpful, useful, and evidence-based information. I highly recommend it if it is in your budget.

ADHD 2.0., by Drs. Ed Hallowell & John Ratey: I have mixed feelings about this book. While I appreciate the optimistic view of neurodivergence, and the strengths that can come with having ADHD, I disliked some parts. The part I disliked the most was framing ADHD-like symptoms under a “new” term called V.A.S.T. The problem is redefining an existing disorder increases the stigma of the actual disorder — If you have ADHD, you have ADHD, there’s no need to use a different name.

Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, by Dr. Russell Barkley: In stark contrast to doctors Hallowell and Ratey, Dr. Barkley has a very pessimistic view of ADHD. Because he is a psychiatrist and has focused his research on all the risk factors associated with ADHD, he paints a very bleak picture indeed. That said, his deep knowledge of ADHD brains is very valuable, and we can learn what we need from his books and leave the rest.


Academic texts about ADHD

ADHD and the Nature of Self-Control, Dr. Barkley : currently unavailable online, this book is less cumbersome than the textbook above, but also a fairly heavy read.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (Fourth Edition, Dr. Barkley) : This is an expensive textbook and a very heavy read. I highly recommend reading Taking Charge of ADHD first and then deciding if you wish to deepen your knowledge on an academic level.


What books about ADHD do you recommend?


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Related Stories

My Top-Performing Articles in March & April


A collection of my highest-earning pieces from the past two months

In April, I had to self-isolate at home due to our family testing positive for Covid, as well as a blizzard that shut down our province for two days.

The good thing about all of this was I had lots of time to spend with my family, as well as lots of time to read and write. I published 16 pieces in 13 days, and I think that is a record high for me.

Given I have shared so much content lately, people may have missed some. I put together my six most popular stories from the past two months, as well as a personal favourite.

I hope you enjoy!


6) Mirroring

Who wouldn’t want to blend in with the crowd in an attempt to escape relentless bullying and try to fit in for a change?

Clearly being myself was a liability at that time.

Mirroring is when a person mimics the body language, verbal habits, or attitudes of someone else, either intentionally or unconsciously.

If we’re constantly corrected, criticized, even punished just for being ourselves, then who are we supposed to be?


5) Executive Functions

I’ve broken down the executive functions into five key categories, and explained them in a relatable way, so that parents can help their children understand their own neurology a bit better.

Perhaps more importantly, I write from the child’s perspective, to help parents better understand and empathize with their children’s experiences.


4) Body Doubling

I’ve frequently seen videos and posts about body doubling, but hadn’t thought much of it. As an autistic introvert who prefers a quiet, solitary working environment, I figured it was something that might work for others, but not me…. apparently I was wrong.


3) The “Autistic Divide”

Some claim that Actually Autistic advocates are “causing a divide” in the Autistic community, particularly between Neurotypical (NT) parents of Autistic children and Autistic adults.

People in positions of power don’t like it when marginalized people start to push back because it threatens the existing social structure and that threatens their privilege.


2) How to know if you’re Autistic

Step one: learn from the lived experiences of actually autistic people

Please note that I am not qualified to diagnose someone with autism, nor would any clinician worth their salt confirm or rule out a diagnosis based on an article.

This story is about my personal experiences and is intended for informational purposes only.

Also, having some autistic traits does not necessarily mean a person is autistic. Autistic traits are human traits, they just tend to be amplified or significantly different due to our markedly different neurology.

Spoiler alert: If you clicked this article, have been wondering if you might be autistic, and have been trying to research autistic traits — you probably are.


1) Ableism in action

My top story in March has also been one of my best-performing of all time, this is what ableism looks like.

A real-life example of what ableism and micro-aggressions look like in action. I am Deaf, neurodivergent, and female-presenting, so I have indeed experienced ableism, audism, and sexism. These usually come in the form of micro-aggressions.

This Is What Ableism Looks Like


A personal favourite

This was one of my favourites, and an article that did extremely well in terms of outside views. As a result, it hasn’t earned me much income, but it’s work I am proud of.

I break down a program called Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports (PBIS), identifying some very concerning aspects about this “positive” approach to inclusion and supporting “positive” behaviour in students.


Want more?

Click here for a table of contents for all of my stories.


Enjoy my writing?

When you join medium, as a member you’ll have access to unlimited reads for only $5 per month. If you use my referral link, I’ll earn a small commission, and you’ll earn my undying gratitude.

Behaviourism Is Not Inclusion


PBIS Is Just ABA With Different Letters

PBIS

P.B.I.S. stands for Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports, and was the foundation for Manitoba Education’s 2011 policy document, Towards Inclusion: Supporting Positive Behaviour in Manitoba Classrooms.

That’s not a typo, the document intended as a guide for creating inclusive schools and classrooms has its roots in behaviourism. The year isn’t a typo either, the document was developed in 2011, eleven years ago. It hasn’t been updated since and it really shows.

In fact, well before 2011, child development and education experts such as Alfie Kohn, Ross Greene, Stuart Shanker, Dan Siegel— and many others — have been trying to educate people on the fallout of only addressing behaviours on their surface, rather than looking deeper to the root causes.

“Stop doing things that interfere with moral growth, things like punishments and rewards, which are rooted in — and underscore a child’s preoccupation with — self-interest.”

— Alfie Kohn

That particular quote was from Unconditional Parenting, a book that was published in 2005.

Created by author

First, the good

Before I rip apart PBIS, I do want to highlight the positive aspects of this programming, and of Manitoba education’s PBIS handbook.

  • The teacher–student relationship is extremely important and takes time and trust to build.
  • Non-contingent reinforcement is an essential component of the teacher–student relationship (this is a really ugly way of saying that children need and deserve unconditional positive regard, and that is what is essential to any adult-child relationship).
  • Recognize the strengths and skills that each individual brings to the classroom.
  • Communicate with parents about what is going well and the positive things the student shows an interest in.
  • A well-designed classroom considers the individual needs of students and fosters a sense of security.
  • When students are able to move around the room naturally and purposefully, they feel less anxious, more alert, and, in some cases, more relaxed.
  • Students who can move around during class are better able to learn.
  • Students need choices as well as varying instructional and assessment methods.
  • Students are more likely to concentrate and make an effort when their schoolwork is personally meaningful and engaging.
  • Some students who do not meet expectations have not yet learned the skills they need.

There. That’s it, the only strong, evidence-based, child-centred sentences in the entire 100-page document would fit easily on a single page.

“Relationships can heal, but relationships can also harm when we exert our positions of power to control children.” 

— Alex Shervin Venet

Whole body listening

The first significant red flag I encountered was about one third of the way into the manual. It looks like this:

Screen shot provided by author (with some personal flair added)

Eyes are on the speaker
Not if you want those of us who are uncomfortable with prolonged eye-contact to actually hear and comprehend anything the speaker is saying. Expecting “one two three, eyes on me” is ableist and disregards diverse needs. Many neurodivergent people may look around while listening and can listen with their ears.

Calm feet & hands in lap
Seriously, we need to micro-manage how someone has their hands and feet now too? I do stimminy-cricket feet, where I stim by rubbing my feet together. It’s relaxing. I can still work, read, write, pay attention, and learn, even if my feet are wiggling, so mind your business.

Quiet hands/hands are still
If I had to focus on keeping my hands still, I wouldn’t hear a thing because it would use up all of my mental energy not to fidget. Stimmy hands, fidgeting, doodling, etc. are all valid ways for a person to self-regulate and maintain their focus.

Criss cross applesauce
I only sit criss-cross applesauce when it is entirely awkward for me to do so, such as in a large swivelling office chair. If I were sitting on the floor there is no way I could sit criss-cross applesauce. We don’t have the right to control other people’s bodies and they can sit however they please, provided they aren’t harming anyone.

Listening ears
Not everyone’s ears can listen. Not surprisingly, they didn’t consider the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students when they made those ableist “whole body listening” posters.

Bodily autonomy
It’s important we help children develop self-awareness, so they learn about themselves and can self-advocate and do what works best for them. Our job is to teach and allow children to make decisions about their own bodies, not try to control their bodies — that sends entirely the wrong message.

Here’s a better one:
Created by author

Choose effective reinforcers

Here’s a thought: How about treating children like human beings, rather than puppies to be trained?

Instead of manipulating children through the threat of punishment and lure of reward, perhaps we could simply show them some common decency and respect, role-model kindness and compassion, and they will follow suit.

Of course that won’t work 100% of the time because children are neurologically and developmentally immature — They’re supposed to be, that’s why they’re kids and not yet adults. We adults frequently act foolishly or “inappropriate” too, myself included.

No “program” works with 100% efficacy because we’re all human and fallible. Children deserve the right to make mistakes in a safe environment, being guided and taught in a caring way, rather than punished for the series transgression of being imperfect human beings.

“Colour charts tend to increase children’s stress because they represent a visual threat, with children worried about the embarrassment of having their colours “downgraded” in front of their classmates.”

— Dr. Mona Delahooke

Lastly, recommending reinforcers and reward programs is in contrast to one of the few positive points made, which is the teacher–student relationship is extremely important and takes time and trust to build.

How can a child feel fully safe with their teacher if a mis-step causes them to be punished, to lose points, or miss out on a reward? Each time the teacher follows through with the prescribed consequences laid out by their classroom management system, this harms the teacher-student relationship.

“When a teacher is sitting in judgement of what you do, and if that judgement will determine whether good things or bad things happen to you, this cannot help but warp your relationship with that person.”

 — Alfie Kohn

Interdependent group contingencies

I saved the worst for last.

Screen shot provided by author (with my rage-induced notes included)

This type of classroom management is sometimes referred to as the “good behaviour game”. It has variations, but essentially the class is broken up into teams, and the teams compete to earn points for good behaviour — as deemed “good” by the teacher, of course.

Not only does this create unhealthy competition, it can also create resentment and anxiety, especially for those students who struggle more than others to meet the teacher’s expectations.

If the group with the most points at the end of the week wins a prize, then how do students treat each other when someone is responsible for their group missing out on points, or not winning the prize? How does that student feel when their classmates are blaming them for losing a point or missing out on a reward?

Quote by Alfie Kohn — (image created by author)

The evidence continues to mount

Over the past decade, many more experts and researchers have found yet more support for a child-centred approach — one which does not reduce children to nothing more than their overt behaviours.

Further research has demonstrated that what we perceive to be “misbehaviour” is often stress behaviour.

“Traditional discipline can inadvertently escalate negative behaviours because survival brains cannot process rewards, consequences, or reason.”

— Lori Desautels

Using punishment and rewards to manipulate children will only increase their stress, inadvertently causing the concerning behaviours to worsen — and missing out on a reward is, in fact, a form of punishment.

There are many more sections of the PBIS document I wish to address, however this is a Medium article, not a novel. In the interest of brevity, I will return to the latter parts in a future piece.

Until then, I shall leave you with words of wisdom from Dr. Ross Greene. These words come from The Explosive Child, the first edition of which was published back in 1998.

“The reason reward and punishment strategies haven’t helped is because they won’t teach your child the skills he’s lacking or solve the problems that are contributing to challenging episodes.” 

— Dr. Ross Greene

© Jillian Enright, Neurodiversity MB


Part two


Related Stories


When you join medium, as a member you’ll have access to unlimited reads for only $5 per month. If you use my referral link, I’ll earn a small commission, and you’ll earn my undying gratitude.


References

Delahooke, M. (2022). Brain-Body Parenting: How to stop managing behaviour and start raising joyful, resilient kids. Harper Collins.

Desautels, L. (2020). Connections Over Compliance: Rewiring our perceptions of discipline. Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing.

Greene, R. W. (2014). The explosive child: a new approach for understanding and parenting easily frustrated, chronically inflexible children. Revised and updated. Harper.

Kohn, A. (2018). Punished By Rewards: The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s, praise, and other bribes. Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

Kohn, A. (2016). The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Coddled kids, helicopter parents, and other phony crises. Beacon Press.

Kohn, A. (2005). Unconditional Parenting: Moving from rewards and punishments to love and reason. Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Shanker, S., & Barker, T. (2016). Self-reg: how to help your child (and you) break the stress cycle and successfully engage with life. Penguin Press.

Shervin Venet, Alex (2021). Equity-Centred Trauma-Informed Education. W. W. Norton & Co.

Stixrud, W. & Johnson, N. (2019). The Self-Driven Child: The science and sense of giving your kids more control over their lives. Penguin Books.

Books & Articles About Education


Parents, educators, school staff—and anyone who cares about educating our children should read these books

Happy Education Week!

Once again, our Minister of Education made a declaration.

MLA Wayne Ewasko hath declared April 18–22, 2022 to be Education Week here in Manitoba.

Great! So…. Education funding will improve?

No.

Greater supports for school staff and students?

No.

Oh. But we’ll get better ventilation in schools at least, for sure, right? I mean, the Covid pandemic has been ongoing for more than two years, surely by now they’ve figured something out… right?

Also no.

The Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins — (image created by author)

In honour of educators and school staff everywhere, I share with you my collection of related book recommendations and articles.


Books About Education and School

Education & School

Connections over Compliance, by Lori L Desautels : This book is aimed at school administrators and school staff, but is also an important read for parents, especially parents whose children have challenges in the school environment. This book can provide parents tools for advocating for their differently wired children in the school system, and has invaluable advice for any adult working with children. A key take-away is that focusing on relationship-building first and foremost is a necessity when helping children and teens work through big feelings and difficult situations.

Managing ADHD in School, Dr. Russel Barkley : This book is also primarily geared towards teachers, but is also very helpful for parents to read so they can work collaboratively with their child’s school.

Lost and Found, by Dr. Ross Greene: This is an updated and revised edition of “Lost At School”. This book explains Dr. Greene’s Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach, which focuses on the problems that are causing concerning behaviours, and helps school staff partner with students to solve those problems rather than simply modifying the behaviour.

Lost at School, Dr. Ross Greene: A compassionate, child-centred approach to supporting children who are struggling at school. This book focuses on children who exhibit challenging behaviours in the school environment, it is aimed at teachers, but is also very helpful for parents to read so they can work collaboratively with their school from a perspective of “ children do well when they can”. Please visit www.livesinthebalance.org to learn more about Dr. Ross Greene and his collaborative, proactive approach and philosophy.

Nowhere to Hide, Jerome Schultz : Although the title is a bit dramatic, this book is incredibly compassionate and also evidence-based. It explained, from a scientific and also empathic viewpoint, why children with ADHD and learning disabilities may be so resistant and stressed (or, as some like to call it, “ defiant”) at school.

Relationship-Based Education, Dr. Josette Luvmour : This book outlines key components of Relationship-based Education that are essential for every teacher and parent to engage when teaching children. Take home message: children and students can’t learn until they feel safe and have a relationship with their educator (and an educator can be a teacher, parent, coach, etc.). This book is currently *FREE* as an eBook with a Kindle Unlimited membership (I have no affiliation).

Wounded by School, Kirsten Olson : This book may be difficult to read because we may see ourselves and our children in so many of the stories shared. Wounded by School talks about how our traditional school system can be harmful for those children who do not fit within their box of what an ideal student should be. Thankfully this book also talks about ways in which we can heal from school trauma and ways we can use our past difficulties to motivate us to push for change.

Declarative Language Handbook, by Linda K. Murphy: Using a thoughtful language style to help kids with social learning challenges feel competent, connected, and understood. This book would be beneficial for parents, educators, and anyone who supports or works with children. Actually, declarative language can be adapted to work with people of any age. It helps to reduce conflict and promotes social and interpersonal skills. This book is currently *FREE* as an eBook with a Kindle Unlimited membership (I have no affiliation).

Kids These Days, by Jody Carrington: This book combines many of my favourite writers, researchers, psychologists, and philosophers in one easy-to-read and easy-to-understand book. If you enjoyed (or have been wanting to read) Self Reg, Raising a Secure Child, Lost and Found, or Relationship-based Educaiton, this book has elements of all of these. Kids These Days is written for educators, but is a book that anyone who cares about children should read.


Anything and everything by Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn is an educator, researcher, critical thinker, author, and general smart-ass (and I love that about him).

The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Coddled Kids, Helicopter Parents, and Other Phony Crises — Alfie Kohn shows us that complaints about pushover parents and coddled kids are hardly new, and there is no evidence that either phenomenon is especially widespread today — let alone more common than in previous generations.

Punished by Rewards— Using rewards and consequences to manipulate children’s behaviour causes them to become more self-centred rather than less, because they’re focusing on how to obtain rewards and avoid punishments, not on doing what’s right for the sake of being kind to themselves and others.

The Case Against Standardized Testing — I think most educators and administrators will agree with Kohn on the myriad problems behind standardized testing. In this book, he concisely explains just how little test results really tell us and how harmful a test-driven curriculum can be.

The Homework Myth — Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, teachers continue to assign overwhelming amounts of homework to younger and younger students each year. This faulty idea that we can help gets “get ahead” in school completely ignores what is developmentally appropriate for children. It also focuses on entirely the wrong priorities for childhood.

Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community — The focus of classroom and behaviour management seems to always be about strategies to get students to comply with the adult’s expectations. Why is blind obedience and compliance our perpetual goal, rather than teaching children critical thinking skills, and fostering a love of learning?

Feel-Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays on Children and Schooling— A belief that harder automatically means better threatens to banish both joy and meaningful intellectual inquiry from our classrooms. Alfie Kohn’s collection of essays question the assumptions too often taken for granted in discussions about education and human behaviour.

Visit Alfie’s website for more books, essays, and articles.


My Articles Related to Education

There are even more!

Those are just the education-related pieces I’ve written over the past six months. The previous six months are compiled here:


When you join medium, as a member you’ll have access to unlimited reads for only $5 per month. If you use my referral link, I’ll earn a small commission, and you’ll earn my undying gratitude.


I also write about neurodiversity, ADHD, autism, parenting, advocacy, disabilities, mental health, and psychology. I’ve been named a Top Writer in four different categories.

You can find the Table of Contents for my stories here.

Hyperlexia in Autistic Kids


Hyperlexia & autism are commonly co-occurring, but not mutually inclusive

Hyperlexia

Hyperlexia is advanced and unexpected reading skills and abilities in children way beyond their chronological age.

Hyperlexia is most common in, but not exclusive to, Autistic children.

Approximately 84% of hyperlexic kids are also autistic.

A child can be one and not the other, however; approximately 9–14% of autistic children are hyperlexic.


Learn more here:

When you join medium, as a member you’ll have access to unlimited reads for only $5 per month. If you use my referral link, I’ll earn a small commission, and you’ll earn my undying gratitude.


References

Ostrolenk, A., d’Arc, B. F., Jelenic, P., Samson, F., Mottron, L. (2017). Hyperlexia: Systematic review, neurocognitive modelling, and outcome.
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 79, 134–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.04.029

Wei, X., Christiano, E. R., Yu, J. W., Wagner, M., & Spiker, D. (2015). Reading and math achievement profiles and longitudinal growth trajectories of children with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 19(2), 200–210. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361313516549

Autism Acceptance Month


Awareness campaigns are harmful; acceptance is the key

As many of you know by now, April is autism “awareness” month. Autistics have been taking back our own activism and education campaigns, and one way we’re doing so is by renaming April to Autism Acceptance Month instead.

Previous “awareness” campaigns have treated autism as though it were some horrible disease. Apparently parents had to “watch out” for the signs in their children. In fact, harmful organizations masquerading as charities even had campaigns spreading awareness of the “warning signs” of autism in children.

Yes, the public needs better understanding of what autism is, and how it can impact people’s lives. Not so they can be afraid of having an autistic child, fearfully watching for any signs their child isn’t developing typically.

Instead, people need to better understand what autism really is, so they can be better informed and more accepting, accommodating, and inclusive. These types of campaigns “other” Autistic people, relegating us to a different category of sub-human being. We’re just people trying to live our lives, hoping for a bit of common courtesy.

The more people grow up and live with all varieties of people in their lives and communities, the less prejudice, ableism, racism, and xenophobia will be perpetuated through lack of life experience and outright ignorance.

I am hoping to do my small part through advocacy, education, and sharing my articles. My hope is people will see there are as many different “types” of autism as there are autistic people, and that autism and other neuro-differences are to be valued rather than feared.


Change starts (in part) with professionals

A significant part of changing the narrative about autism and neurodivergence is addressing the stigma, stereotyping, and ignorance that exists right in our own professional organizations.

For example, the DSM-V continues to perpetuate a stereotyped picture of autism, with many of the “symptoms” based solely on the experiences of middle-and-upper class white males, because that was the original “face” of autism. Unfortunately, little has changed.


Are you Autistic?

For those who have been wondering if they, or someone they love, might be Autistic, my statements above might be confusing. If you cannot look to the diagnostic criteria to help you sort this out, where can you look?

My answer: The Actually Autistic community. Many autistic adults have shared their experiences and described how their autism is expressed through their individual traits and characteristics.

I have tried to do this as well:


Books about Autism

There are also many autistic scholars, activists, and authors from whom you can learn.

I have put together a list of books I recommend:


Autistic kids

If your child has been identified as autistic, you may need some help explaining this to them.

Every child and family are different, but here are some tips I hope parents and caregivers will find helpful:


Significant change also needs to happen in our education system

Big time.

Unfortunately, much of our education system still operates on an out-dated, harmful behaviourist approach, especially when supporting (or “teaching”) disabled and neurodivergent students.

This is ableist, harmful, and sometimes outright abusive.


Autistic Mirroring

Mirroring is when a person mimics the body language, verbal habits, or attitudes of someone else, either intentionally or unconsciously.

Who wouldn’t want to blend in with the crowd in an attempt to escape relentless bullying and try to fit in for a change?

If we’re constantly corrected, criticized, even punished just for being ourselves, then who else are we supposed to be?


The Autistic Divide

Spoiler alert: There’s not really a divide if your priorities are the autistic individuals for whom you claim to advocate.

A person — or people — from a marginalized and oppressed group finally setting boundaries and standing up for themselves only creates a divide between those who want to lift our voices and those who want us to remain silenced.


Help with Sensory Overload

In April, my family and I had to isolate for 10 days after contracting Covid. Manitoba also had a major blizzard that same week which essentially shut down the entire province.

Then we had flooding.

I am a sensory-avoider in a house full of sensory-seekers! I have shared some of my tips and strategies for dealing with sensory overload.

This story will also provide some insight for anyone wondering how I managed to write so much this week… at least there’s an upside to isolation.


When you join medium, as a member you’ll have access to unlimited reads for only $5 per month. If you use my referral link, I’ll earn a small commission, and you’ll earn my undying gratitude.

Playing Politics With Our Children’s Education


False claims of education funding increases

Manitoba’s government continues to claim they’ve increased education funding, yet anyone who actually crunches the numbers can see this is disingenuous.

Obviously this isn’t a new tactic, nor is it one used exclusively by any one political party, they all play these games. I hate games like these, which is probably (one of the many reasons) why I would make for a terrible politician.

Last year, when our former education minister was bragging about supposed funding increases, I decided to do a little math. It’s not my speciality, but luckily there exist calculators and spreadsheets for anyone who wishes to delve into the figures.

Created by author using data from https://gov.mb.ca/budget2021

This year, our provincial government is playing a similar game. Our new education minister is boasting of a $7 million increase in funding for “special needs” students.

Side note to government officials: Most of us dislike the term “special needs” as many experience it as infantilizing and condescending. We’re disabled. We’re neurodivergent. We’re Deaf. We’re Autistic. These are not dirty words.

We’re human beings, not a homogenous group to be lumped into a “special” category, but I digress (often).

Seven million dollars sounds like a lot of money, doesn’t it?

Manitoba has over 690 schools, so $7 million only amounts to approximately $10K per school. Not a lot when funding models are looking at multiple millions of dollars, with many divisions currently operating on a deficit.


But wait, it gets worse!

At least two additional problems are conspicuously absent from these political attempts to paint a pretty picture of education funding.

One, our government has also been bragging about adding twenty new schools.

Created by author — screen shots from https://www.gov.mb.ca/budget2022/

Obviously, more schools and reduced funding mean even less money to go around. In 2020 we had 690 schools. An additional $7 million divided amongst 690 schools is $10,144. $7 million divided amongst 710 schools will be just $9,859.

For reference, our small rural division currently has 27 schools. If our division were to receive $9,859, that would amount a paltry $365 per school. That would hardly cover the annual cost toilet paper, let alone provide any benefit to the students.

Our small division of approximately 2,300 students has an estimated $33 million in operating costs. Assuming we’d get an equal share of that funding (which we would not), $9K is only 0.03% of our annual expenses. That’s not a typo, that’s not 3%, it’s 0.03%.

If your expenses were $100 and you were given 3 additional cents, how much help would that be?

Given there are nearly 200,000 students in Manitoba, our division of 2,300 has approximately 1.1% of our province’s student body, meaning we’re likely to get even less than 0.03%.


But wait, there’s more!

When the province consistently decreases a division’s funding over 5 years, then provides a very small (I’m talking teeny tiny) increase, it’s not really an increase.

Data source: Our division’s budget presentation for 2022–2023 — (image created by author)

In 2015, the provincial government gave our division $17.4 million. In 2021–2022, the province gave us $17.09 million. That’s a decrease of 2% over 5 years. That doesn’t even account for factors such as inflation and increased enrolment.


“Special needs” funding

The second major problem is this additional $7 million is ear-marked for “special needs” students who are considered to have Level 2 or 3 support needs.

Level 2 support is defined as a student who has multiple disabilities:

“The student has a combination of two or more severe disabilities that produce severe multiple developmental, behavioural, and/or learning difficulties.”

Level 3 support is defined as a student who has severe or profound disabilities:

“The student has a combination of extremely severe disabilities that produce profound multiple developmental, behavioural, and/or learning difficulties.”

Therein lies the rub.

Or, more accurately, therein lies yet another hole in the story of our provincial government.

As a result of year-over-year funding decreases, our division has gone from two clinicians qualified to assess students for learning and developmental disabilities, down to only one clinician who is qualified to perform these assessments.

That’s one lonely clinician for an entire division of more than 2,300 students. Even before this reduction and before Covid shut-downs, wait times for a psycho-educational assessment were between 6 to 8 months.

Since these changes, wait times have increased to one to two years.

It is much more difficult to identify and articulate a student’s needs without the funding to employ qualified staff to assess and describe those needs in the first place.

If you look at the application form for Level 2 and 3 funding, it focuses on:

  • Assistance needed for personal care and hygiene (i.e. needing help in the bathroom).
  • Interpreter services needed for Deaf or non-speaking students.
  • Severe behaviour concerns — the form specifically asks administrators filling out the form to describe how the student’s behaviours are dangerous to themselves and/or others.
  • The form asks for the results of the most recent formal assessment.

Although the applications do not appear to require a student to have a formal diagnosis, only those students whose behaviours are most disruptive, or support needs require most staff time, will be eligible for this funding.

While the government claims to be spending an additional $7 million on “special needs”, this is money held in government coffers, only to be disrupted at their discretion.

This money will be doled out on an as-needed basis, only after administrators jump through government hoops to apply for — and maybe receive — an annual amount per student who meets the government’s criteria.

Interesting that someone in a governmental office, who has no idea who the child is, or any idea what their daily school experience is, sits in judgement of whether or not their needs are sufficient to receive funding for needed supports.

Maybe interesting isn’t the word for it.

© Jillian Enright, Neurodiversity MB


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