Letter to Premier Wynn and Ontario Ministers of Health and Education

March 29, 2018

Dear Premier Wynne,

We at CADDAC were very interested when we heard your announcements regarding additional funding for special education and mental health.

Childhood ADHD

While this additional funding is welcome and certainly needed, the Ontario parents of students with ADHD are questioning how this additional funding will benefit their children. The fact is that if students with ADHD continue to be excluded from the categories of exceptionality by the Ontario Ministry of Education, and school boards in Ontario continue to use this fact to bar students with ADHD from officially being recognized as exceptional students this funding will mean next to nothing for them.

We have been promised that ADHD will be included as its own category in the new British Columbia Special Education Guidelines by both the former Liberal and now the new NDP governments. Yet there has been no change in Ontario in the past ten years, while other similar neurodevelopmental disorders, that are less prevalent, and often less impairing are listed.

I am attaching a letter that you sent to me ten years ago, outlining the very same response that we continue to receive from the Ontario Ministry of Education. Yet, despite all of these assurances we continue to hear from frustrated, desperate parents sharing heart breaking stories of children being stigmatized and suspended for their medical disability.

While the matter of including ADHD within a category of exceptionality is made out to be insignificant and a mere technicality, in reality it is causing huge issues for many of our students as a recent survey of parents has demonstrated. While it may not be the Ministry’s intent when excluding ADHD from a category of exceptionality, the message educators are receiving is that ADHD is not a disability and does not impair learning enough (even when abundant research tells us otherwise) for the Ministry and boards and therefore teachers to take it seriously. Teachers have shared this belief with us countless times, and they convey it directly to students by accusing them of not trying hard enough. Parents are told that ADHD does not qualify their child for special education support because it does no impair the child “enough”.

Interesting things happen when disorders are listed in a category, education for educators flows and students with ADHD are better understood and supported and representation occurs on SEAC’s and on MACSE giving a voice to those with ADHD.

Many Ontario parents that we hear from on a daily basis are frustrated beyond belief. They have expressed doubt that change will happen for their children with ADHD n Ontario under your present leadership.

However, I do think that this could change. I believe that they would really like to support your proposed funding initiatives for special education and mental health however it seems that children with ADHD have been left out again. Parents will require an honest guarantee that this funding would indeed benefit their children with an explanation of how this would occur. Unfortunately they have lived with platitudes and rhetoric for far too long.

Adult ADHD

Adults with ADHD also see themselves as excluded. There was no mention of therapy for those with ADHD, only anxiety and depression. Research informs us that untreated ADHD can cause anxiety and depression and that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is hugely beneficial for those with ADHD. When we treat anxiety and depression without treating the underlying ADHD all treatment is unsuccessful. In addition, adults with ADHD are being charged over OHIP for assessments. Why are some mental health disorders supported in your additional funding and other not?

We are also contacted by adults with ADHD routinely and I just presented to a large group of Ontario adults with ADHD. I believe that this group would also really like to support your plan for additional funding for mental health, but they too find that they have been given no reason to do so.

I would like to meet with you Premier Wynne to discuss how we can assure those with ADHD that your initiates will offer them additional support and services.

Sincerely,

Heidi Bernhardt

President, Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada

 

With cc to

Hon Indira Naidoo-Harris

inaidoo-harris.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Hon Helena Jaczek

hjaczek.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

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