Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Teachers learn to police attention deficit disorder

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A majority of schoolteachers have had to deal with students with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a survey conducted by the John Tung Foundation reports.

The foundation conducted the survey among 1,501 teachers at elementary and junior high schools in June. It found that almost all respondents felt that children or teenagers with ADHD should receive medical treatment and that 93 percent considered it to be a medical disorder.

"ADHD is a physical disorder and is not a result of lack of parenting or a child's unwillingness to learn," said Chen Chih-tsai (陳質采), director of the department of child psychiatry at the Taipei Municipal Women's and Children's Hospital.

Major features of students with ADHD identified in the survey were an inability to pay attention in class, talkativeness and fidgeting, the survey said.

"The teachers feel that students with ADHD face more challenges in subjects that require logical reasoning, such as mathematics, languages and the sciences," said Yeh Ya-hsing (葉雅馨), the foundation's mental-health section chief.

Chen said that when combining medical treatment and behavioral therapy, the success rate of treatment can reach 90 percent.

"Hospital child psychiatry departments have trained professionals to treat children with ADHD. One point I want to stress is that despite the frustrations faced by parents, corporal punishment should not be imposed on these children," Chen said.

One mother of a child with ADHD at the press conference yesterday urged other parents with similar circumstances to be brave and seek help for their children.

"When my child was still in kindergarten, I was approached by the principal who told me nicely that my child was quite active and that maybe I should take him to a doctor about it -- and I did," said Diana King (金燕玲), a member of the ADHD Foundation. "Since then, my child has been receiving medication. But my son still struggles to relate to other children in school."

Yet King did not give up hope of putting her child through school.

"One day, with the best intentions, my son's teachers said to me that maybe I should consider taking my son out of school as he was not able to learn in school. Then, even my own son told me at one point that he had absolutely no friends in school, which broke my heart," King said.

King decided to give her son medicine before school and have the schoolteacher do so again in the afternoon. She also found a child at the school who was able to befriend her son.

"I encourage parents [of children with ADHD] to face up to the problem and not live in fear of being labeled. Only when you talk about these problems will you be able to get help," King said.

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