DA calls for greater understanding, tolerance of ADHD

By Safiyia Stanfley, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education:

The Democratic Alliance has written to the Northern Cape department of Education to establish how understanding of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders in the province will be improved. This follows research published by the University of the Western Cape, which shows that many primary school teachers in the province lack an understanding of ADHD.

The Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support Group of Southern Africa estimates that ADHD has a prevalence rate of 8% amongst children in primary school. Looking at class sizes across the province, this statistic effectively means that between 3 and 8 learners in every class has ADD or ADHD. Teachers must be equipped with the necessary understanding and must know how to involve these children in the classroom curriculum.

It is essential that the department of Education must provide teachers with the necessary training to create a good educational environment for all their learners.

Teachers already have a full schedule and we do not want to overburden them. It is not the primary task of teachers to make a medical diagnosis, but to teach children.

We definitely don’t want teachers to be doctors. But we want teachers to be aware of the symptoms. Because teachers spend a large portion of the day with their classes, they are in an ideal position to identify possible symptoms and to raise these concerns with parents.

The diagnosis is a medical one which must be made by qualified professionals. ADHD can overlap with other conditions like anxiety disorders or depression. For the health of the child, it is crucial that the correct clinical diagnosis is made.

Support must be given to the child at home and in the classroom so that she or he can participate fully in the school curriculum. Once a child has been officially diagnosed with ADHD, the parents and the child’s teachers must discuss coping strategies together. There are a number of options available for the management of ADHD, which is ultimately a personal decision to be made by the child’s parents. The child must also understand that he or she will have certain responsibilities. Even if you have ADHD, you must still do your homework.

There is a difference between a naughty child and a child who needs a little extra help. The Democratic Alliance believes that all children must be given a fair chance in life. We should not deny a child access to opportunities because he or she has ADHD.