Published Online: September 18, 2002
Published in Print: September 18, 2002, as Special Education

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Views on ADHD

Most parents of students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder believe teachers play a key role in helping their children, a recent survey shows.

But some teachers don't believe that ADHD is a real medical condition, the survey found, and more than a quarter of the teachers responding believe that students will eventually outgrow the disorder.

In addition, the study found, many teachers feel unprepared when they suspect a child may be showing signs of ADHD.

The survey, released Aug. 21, measured responses from online interviews with 550 teachers of 1st through 12th grades, 541 parents of children diagnosed with ADHD, and 346 children ages 12 to 17 who have the disorder.

The survey, called "Perceptions of ADHD Among the Public Parents, Teachers, and Children," was conducted by Feinstein Kean Healthcare, a Cambridge, Mass.-based health-care public relations firm. Funding for the survey came from the Novartis Corp., the drug company that makes the popular ADHD drug Ritalin. The report contains no recommendations on the use of specific medications for ADHD.

Half the teachers surveyed said they found it somewhat difficult to determine if a child should be referred to a medical professional for an ADHD evaluation. About half those surveyed said they do not notify parents when they suspect a child may be showing symptoms of the disorder. Seventy-seven percent of teachers said they suspect they have undiagnosed students with the disorder in their classes.

And 56 percent of the teachers said they had received little or no training about ADHD.

Just over one in 10 teachers do not believe ADHD is a real medical condition. Eighteen percent of teachers said ADHD results from poor parenting, and 26 percent think all such children would grow out of the condition.

"This shows we need better teacher education for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD," said Patricia Quinn, the director of the National Center for Gender Issues and ADHD, a Washington-based group that contributed to the project. "I think this helps document a need for more teacher training."

Also, the survey showed how teachers regard the impact of ADHD on students' lives. More than half the teachers said children with the disorder have more difficulty getting along with others, have difficulty participating in extracurricular activities, get teased by peers, and are more accident-prone.

Almost all teachers said that children with ADHD are more likely than other children to be disruptive in a social situation or class.

—Lisa Fine Goldstein

Vol. 22, Issue 3, Page 6

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