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Half of children with the condition may be undiagnosed


School staff say training does not equip them to recognise signs of ADHD

Most teachers (72 per cent) believe that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has a great impact on a child’s life chances, but 42 per cent report not being trained to teach these children.

Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of teachers worry about a child with ADHD symptoms being excluded from school and over half (56 per cent) say they are concerned about the risk of children with ADHD symptoms being bullied, according to a ComRes poll of 800 primary and secondary teachers, which was commissioned by Shire Pharmaceuticals. Overall, 68 per cent of teachers believe that children with ADHD symptoms performed worse at school.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder with symptoms including inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. It is often diagnosed in childhood but, without appropriate support, can have a serious impact on an individual’s education, work and social life. Previous research has found that 39 per cent of children with ADHD experience exclusion from school.

ADHD is thought to affect up to five per cent of school children in the UK.

Missing the signs

For many commentators, the findings of this new poll will add to growing fears that ADHD in children is being seriously under-diagnosed, with teachers lacking the knowledge, confidence and skills to help pupils suspected of having the condition. Many teachers surveyed did not recognise some important symptoms of ADHD, such as impulsive behaviour (41 per cent) and difficulty with organisation (74 per cent). Over half of teachers polled (55 per cent) reported teaching a higher number of children who they suspect may have ADHD than those who have received a confirmed diagnosis.

In September this year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published its draft guidance on ADHD diagnosis and management in which it renewed its call for the Department for Education to provide more education about ADHD for trainee teachers, amid concerns that around half of all cases of ADHD in children were undiagnosed.

The poll also comes as the Government prepares to publish its Green Paper on children’s mental health and the Care Quality Commission continues its review of child and adolescent mental health services.

“These findings confirm what teachers have long been telling us about the need for more professional development so that they can put in place effective provision for children with ADHD in their classrooms”, says Adam Boddison, the Chief Executive of the National Association of Special Educational Needs. “These statistics reveal that while teachers are hugely invested in improving the life chances for children with ADHD, they do not always feel equipped to give them the support they need.”

Life-long impact

Dr Tony Lloyd, the Chief Executive of the ADHD Foundation, believes that children with ADHD are being “woefully let down” at present. “Despite the very best efforts of teachers, there is a fundamental lack of support for children with ADHD which is having a detrimental impact on their life chances”, he says. “We know that without the right support, children with ADHD are more likely to be excluded and bullied, and are more likely to face unemployment and commit crime later in life. I hope these findings serve as a wake-up call that urgent action is needed to help and support these children to reach their full potential.”

The independent research agency ComRes was commissioned by Shire Pharmaceuticals Limited to conduct a poll of teachers regarding their views on ADHD in children they have taught. In total, 803 teachers answered the poll. Of these, there were equal numbers of primary and secondary school teachers spread across the United Kingdom.

The poll results are available on the ComRes website:
www.comresglobal.com

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