Motion: ADHD and Exceptionality Categorization

Motion: ADHD and Exceptionality Categorization

In the Spring of 2018, I composed a proposed motion for the WRDSB of Trustees to consider as a proposed resolution to take to the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association’s (OPSBA’s) Annual General Meeting at the beginning of June 2018.

This proposed motion received the support of the majority of the Board of Trustees, and was given the ‘green light’ to send it to the OPSB’s Executive Council for consideration.

They reviewed it and provided the following comment:

Executive Council recommends this motion be referred to the Minister’s Advisory Council on Special Education (MACSE) to evaluate and act on. 

I presented the original motion as I had written it, on Friday afternoon on behalf of WRDSB, with a proposed amendment which incorporated the recommendation of the Executive Council. The motion was to lobby the ministry to include ADHD in a category of exceptionality and to ensure training (the original motion) plus to take it to MACSE to evaluate and act on.

The weighted votes came in with 88% support for the amended motion! There was very clearly significant support for the motion.

I realize that these lobbying efforts may ultimately not lead to any significant changes, but I am overjoyed that the association is willing to stand up as a unit and use our collective voices to publicly indicate to the Ministry of Education that the current situation needs to be change for these students.

Here is the motion that was approved by the OPSBA:

Whereas Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorder, affecting at least five percent of the Ontario student population;

Whereas scientific research informs us that ADHD not only impairs attention and self-regulation, it also impairs cognition, executive functioning, memory and the speed of information processing all of which impede learning in general and specifically the acquisition of reading fluency and comprehension, written expression and mathematical problem solving; as well as the acquisition of learning strategies, study and organizational skills;

Whereas students with ADHD are at high risk for academic underachievement or failure, even without an accompanying learning disability, despite having average or above average intellectual abilities, and are three times more likely to drop out of secondary school than their peers;

Whereas the Ontario Human Rights Commission recognizes ADHD as a disability in the learning environment;

Whereas the Ontario Ministry of Education does not recognize ADHD under its five categories of exceptionality, which can result in inequity to access of education and accommodations for students in Ontario with ADHD; 

Whereas with appropriate teaching strategies and classroom accommodations students with ADHD can meet their potential, going onto post-secondary learning and careers of their choice;

B. RESOLUTION Be it resolved, that OPSBA actively lobby the Ontario Ministry of Education to:

Alter the existing categories of exceptionality to include ADHD within a category, other than behaviour,thereby acknowledging ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder that significantly impairs learning, allowing students with ADHD to be identified as exceptional learners as their peers with Autism and learning disabilities (similar neurodevelopmental disorders) are, thereby securing their legal right to accommodations for their disability, and,

Ensure that all Ontario educators are trained in ADHD impairments, as well as in the appropriate classroom accommodations and teaching strategies that can be used to support these students in the classroom and school environment, and, 

That this motion be referred to the Minister’s Advisory Council on Special Education (MACSE) to evaluate and act on.

Related Media Coverage

Waterloo Region trustee wins support to lobby for rights for kids with ADHD

Natalie Waddell, a Waterloo Region District School Board trustee representing Kitchener, won the backing of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association for her efforts to recognize children with ADHD as “exceptional learners,” much like autistic children, giving them legal rights to educational accommodations in school for their disability.

Advocating For Students With ADHD

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is said to be the most common mental health condition in childhood, yet advocates argue there is still a lack of awareness surrounding the neurodevelopmental disorder, much to the detriment of students. Joining The Agenda to explain are Dr. Ainslie Gray of the Springboard Clinic, Heidi Bernhardt of the Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada, and Waterloo Region public school trustee Natalie Waddell.

More supports needed for students with ADHD, trustee says

A trustee with Waterloo region’s public school board says the Ministry of Education is failing students with ADHD by not automatically identifying them as exceptional learners.

“It’s time for our province to really recognize that these children have a neurological condition that interferes with their learning,” Natalie Waddell told CBC News.

Waterloo Region trustee lobbying to support kids with ADHD

Kitchener trustee Natalie Waddell, whose 11-year-old son has been diagnosed with ADHD, wants Ontario public school boards to jointly lobby the province to include ADHD among education exceptions requiring schools to modify learning strategies to accommodate learning challenges.