A recent memorandum issued by the Ontario Ministry of Education has addressed the special needs of students with ADHD. Until now, many students with ADHD have often found it difficult to access support to help address their unique educational needs because school boards with limited resources found it difficult to justify since ADHD was not specifically articulated in government guidelines.
The memorandum, send by the Director, Special Education Policy and Programs Branch of the Ministry of Education, clarifies the needs of ADHD students and explains how schools can assist them within the existing framework. The memo states that “the determining factor for the provision of special education programs or services is not any specific diagnosed or undiagnosed medical condition, but rather the needs of individual students…”
In the past, unless students had exceptional learning disabilities, specifically outlined in the guidelines, they were not eligible to receive assistance with such supports as an IEP (Individual Education Plans) which ensure that student’s particular learning needs are met. The new directive recognizes that those with ADHD have learning challenges that can, and should, be addressed just like other conditions.
The Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada (CADDAC) applauds the move. CADDAC is a national organization, headquartered in Toronto, which advocates and helps to educate the public, health care providers and policy makers. You can learn more about CADDAC here.
In a response to the memorandum, Heidi Bernhardt, CADDAC’s National Director said, “There is an appalling inconsistency in how students with these complex neurological disorders are recognized and supported across the province. We receive calls almost daily from frustrated parents who are told that ADHD does not fit under a specific special education Category of Exceptionalities, which some boards insist is necessary for a student to be identified. Many children are denied access to interventions recommended by their doctor or psychologist because they did not have the ‘right’ diagnosed disorder.”
This is a positive step toward formally recognizing the needs of students with ADHD.
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