I am going to preface this post with the statement that this is my opinion and yes I may get flamed by parents and some of my colleagues but I am going to post it anyway. I feel like I have this burning in my chest (no it's not a heart attack) and if I can get this out on my blog then I am hoping it will go away.
I had something happen to me this week during playground duty....twice ......with two different children. Both children were being talked to for using inappropriate language and having arguments and or fighting with another child. Both students gave me this as their reason for doing what they did....."I have ADHD" in fact in one incident it was also another student that told me "He can't help it if he is naughty, because of his ADHD."
My response was this, "ADHD is not an excuse for rude behaviour or for not following the rules, the rules are the same for everyone."
It got me thinking; I wonder who is giving these children the message that if you have ADHD (or any other diagnosis for that matter) it is ok to hurt others and flaunt the rules? Is it parents? teachers? peers? medical practitioners? All of the above? Who can say, but I think it is a very dangerous line we reach when students are justifying their actions with their diagnosis and hoping they will not get punished for poor behaviour. Don't get me wrong I am not saying all students should be educated in the same way, definitely we should be catering for differences.......but this was not catering for differences, this was a kid feeling like he had a licence to do as he pleased and blame his actions on a condition. Personally I will not accept that. We can all work toward making sure these children are able to cope with conflict and conforntation without giving them the permission to using ADHD as a cop out. I can't speak to what treatment if any these particular children were undertaking but I felt if that is the reaction they are giving to a teacher and peers, their treatment needs to be reviewed and parents and students need to educated about ADHD and that it is not about being a naughty child.
As I said this is my opinion but it is based on experience. Now I don't usually share private details about my children but in this instance I feel it is important for people to know I come from a place of knowing what these children deal with on a daily basis. My son was diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago and we have worked very hard to get him to a place where he copes in the classroom and at home. I was actually the one that looked at his behaviours and realised that he had an issue that needed to be addressed. He is an intelligent, curious boy but there was such a disparity between his intelligence and what he coul produce to show his intelligence, he couldn't sit still......ever......he slept poorly, he had trouble following 2 step instructions, he had difficulty focussing on, well, anything, he had periods of aggression.
We have never excused or accepted poor behaviour or rudeness and brushed it off as his condition, on the contrary, he needs to know that poor behaviour is unacceptable in our society at any level. So he does get consequences at home and at school, woe betide him if I get a phone call from school!!!!
We also work very hard on making sure we have a solid routine, good diet (minus the colours, preservatives and flavours) and adequate sleep and exercise. Through this we have had some successes, and like others good and bad days, but we take it all in stride and we aim to raise him as a hard working, polite and courteous boy who has a happy childhood and grows up to realise his potential.
Don't get me wrong this is not an easy road to take and we have made some very hard decisions about his education and health and I do empathise with parents and children who have to struggle through this. My reason for posting today is that I want to get the message out that I believe we are educating our children to excuse poor behaviour instead of taking responsibility for their actions. Children need to learn that their actions at school and home will have consequences the same as anyone else. ADHD is not a legal defence in a court of law and should not be a defence in the playground either, where do these children end up if the message they get now is "It is ok to hurt others because you have ADHD." The thought absolutely saddens me and I was appalled at the fact that these children and their peers saw it as an excuse. Now we have their peers and friends enabling these students as well.
I am sorry for being such a downer and posting such a heavy topic but I think the only way to get through to parents, teachers and students is to talk about it and not brush it aside. As I said I am sure there will be many that disagree with me and you are certainly entitled to your opinion......this is just mine.
PS I will end this by acknowledging that I know there are parents who work very hard at helping their child and schools and still come up against walls and I feel their frustration, they are not the people I am targeting here.