Staff unsure on ADHD

9th September 2005 at 01:00
Teachers need to be more involved in diagnosing children with attention deficithyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to research.

A study of 32 primary schools, which had 52 children with ADHD between them, found a lack of co-operation between professionals who had contact with children in the early years.

The report, from academics at the University of Edinburgh, said that GPs and educational or clinical psychologists usually diagnosed the condition.

But this made inclusion difficult because teachers believed they had to adopt particular teaching methods in the classroom to engage the children.

Dr Gwynedd Lloyd, of the university's Moray House School of Education, said: "Hundreds of books have been written about how to teach these children and there is a lot of mythology around, but they should be taught like every other child."

Dr Lloyd, who presented her findings at the ISEC 2005 conference in Glasgow last month, said ADHD had become a "label of forgiveness" for many parents who wanted an explanation of their child's behaviour. "What they really need to look at is their child's diet and how much exercise they get," she said.

The study found there were also difficulties in administering medication such as Ritalin and Equasym, also known as methylphenidate, which had a calming and "focusing" effect on children with ADHD.

Most schools had designated support staff to administer the drugs, but when they were absent it was difficult to monitor. Schools also had to store the medication safely.

One teacher who responded to the survey said: "Pupils did not always remember to go at lunchtime, so the auxiliary had to find them."

Others complained of staff being taken away from other duties to administer medication and mentioned problems with "getting the child to swallow them".

The study said: "Effective review and monitoring of pupils diagnosed with ADHD and receiving prescriptive medication while at school are seriously undermined if the involvement of schools is marginal."

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