Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Giving Kids with ADHD a Chance

Ring ring

I didn't think too much of it when the phone rang this morning. Stitch was at my parents', so I figured it was probably my mother with a question.

Good morning, Laura speaking, I answered. For the record, I don't always answer the phone like that, but I work from home so I have to at least pretend to be professional. No one needs to know there's a toddler clinging to my legs, I'm working on my laptop at the dining room table that's still covered with breakfast dishes, and I'm in my jammies.

Hi's C., said the voice on the other end.

Oh, what's he done???? I moaned out loud. I don't even try to sound surprised anymore when C. calls. I'm impressed that so far I've managed to keep it to "oh, crap..." and nothing worse. Because believe me, that's not what went through my head.

C. is the resource teacher at Bear's school, and part of her job is to call the parents of our misbehaving little darlings to tell us what they've been up to. I don't envy her her job because it sounds as if some parents resent her calls. That has to be hard.

He hit a girl twice, so the principal thinks he should spend the rest of the day at home and then stay home tomorrow. Sorry, Laura. (Turns out this is the same little girl who threw snow in his face a few days ago. That day he was very proud of the fact that he had told a teacher instead of hitting her, but it looks like he was still harboring a bit of a grudge. Guess we're going to have to work on that. If you're going to retaliate, at least wait a week so that no one makes the connection. Duh!)

As much as Bear being suspended is a major pain in my behind, I can't say I get too upset about it. In fact, I almost welcome it. I know it sounds crazy, but the more he gets suspended, the stronger the case the school has when they request funding for an EA for him for next year. Believe it or not, the principal and I have already had this conversation.

Suspend him for a week, I told him, if it means he gets the help he needs.

And we may be in luck. Not with the week-long suspension, but with the funding request. Up until now, the Ontario Ministry of Education didn't recognize ADHD as a condition that might cause a child to need extra resources. In order to qualify, a child had to have a second diagnosis, like autism. The fact that the Canadian government considers ADHD to be a severe disability didn't seem to matter. The fact that ADHD can lead to extreme learning difficulties didn't seem to matter. The fact that a lot of kids with ADHD drop out of school didn't seem to matter.

Until now.

Last month, very quietly, the Ontario Ministry of Education made an announcement that ADHD is now enough of a diagnosis on its own to merit funding. That doesn't mean children with ADHD will automatically get the resources they need, but at least now they stand a chance.

A chance.

A chance to be happy.

A chance to feel smart.

A chance to succeed.

A chance to rise to their full potential.

A chance to achieve their dreams.

A chance.


  1. well it is about time that ADHD got recognized!!

    I hope Bear gets the help he needs.

    And ya. I get those phone calls a lot too. :)

  2. It is about damn time.
    Absolutely ridiculous Canada.
    My nephew has had many diagnosis (oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD and now he's being tested for Asperger's) and through all of this not once did he receive an EA. To the school board he was a problem because he needed help and at times his behaviours were bad (not his fault)...he was suspended for silly things. Even one time, the teacher swore that he had lice and needed to stay at home...he didn't have one speck of lice in his hair.
    So sad this system.
    I hope that more parents learn of this and get the help for their kids that they need.

  3. Hi Kimberly,

    Blame Ontario, not Canada. In 2010 the Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada (CADDAC) named Ontario as one of three provinces that failed to meet the needs of students with attention disorders by not making them eligible for support. Ridiculous -- I know!

    We're lucky that Bear's school has recognized his need for additional help and has done what they can where they can. He may not have been eligible to additional help, but they've made sure he receives it anyway. The sad thing is that many schools persist in treating kids with ADHD the way your poor nephew has been treated -- as if their behaviour was deliberate and as if they were bad kids. Not only do kids not receive the education they're entitled to when this happens, but they internalize the message.

    Let me know if you need me to send you the link to the announcement. Maybe it will help your nephew get the help he needs. And if your sister hasn't visited my blog yet, tell her about it! I bet she'll see a lot of herself in it.

  4. That is AWESOME Laura! (Not that Bear hit a girl and that he was suspended for a couple of days...) I'm glad to hear that Ontario has decided to recognize the ADHD issue for what it is.

  5. I'm happy to hear that there is now funding available. That is a step in the right direction.