Solutions for 'problem' children

As a group of clinical and educational experts with everyday experience of working with children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), we are disappointed to see so much media coverage questioning the existence of ADHD as a condition.

ADHD is underdiagnosed in the UK, and when poorly managed or unrecognised can lead to serious consequences, most notably educational exclusion and possible decline into social exclusion and antisocial and criminal behaviour. However, with early recognition, management and support, many children with ADHD can be successful in school and in society.

More needs to be done to help these children. Exclusion from school often leads to a student with ADHD being labelled as a "problem" child. And yet this encounter should be an opportunity to establish a positive path forward.

We are campaigning to change educational guidance so that every child who receives two fixed-term exclusions from school is assessed for ADHD before they return. Many children are excluded once for bad behaviour and are suitably chastened by the experience, but multiple exclusions suggest a more serious underlying problem. We believe that by taking action at this key juncture, we can help to build better futures for children with ADHD.

Fin O'Regan, On behalf of the UK ADHD Partnership.

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