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Children with ADHD being excluded up to six times on average amid learning support cuts

CHILDREN with attention-deficit disorder are being excluded from school up to six times on average, according to a new report.

Long waits for a diagnosis, a lack of classroom learning support and an over-reliance on medication as the only treatment were also highlighted in the first report by the Scottish ADHD Coalition.

The charity surveyed more than 200 parents across every mainland health board in Scotland who had a child with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A third of parents said their child had been temporarily excluded from school at least once. Of those who had been excluded, on average exclusion had occurred six times.

Only a quarter of parents (26 per cent) felt their school had a good understanding of ADHD and how to manage it in the classroom, with many feeling that the availability of learning support assistants was "jeopardised by staff and funding shortfalls".

Latest Scottish Government figures show that the number of additional support needs (ASN) teachers fell from 3,248 in 2012 to 2,733 in 2017, with the average spending per pupil on learning support falling by £728 over the same period.

Children with ADHD struggle with concentration, memory, impulsivity and a constant need to move and fidget. It affects their ability to follow instructions, sit still and complete tasks.

Parents complained that their child's experience could fluctuate from "fantastic" learning support one year to "no support whatsoever" the next. One parent said their son was "thrown out the class every day" and most teachers complained they "need to keep repeating themselves" to him.

Geraldine Mynors, chair of the Scottish ADHD Coalition, said: "Some teachers still have very old fashioned attitudes to ADHD. I hesitate to say it's older teachers because it's not always, but there are teachers who have been around a long time and they have this ingrained view that these children just need discipline.

"We hear over and over again about children who miss their lunchtime break every day because they've misbehaved and if there is anything that is going to be counterproductive and lead to even worse behaviour in the afternoon it's keeping an ADHD child in at break-time instead of allowing them to run around."

Ms Mynors said it was also surprising that two thirds (63 per cent) of parents had been offered no behavioural training to cope with their child's ADHD, despite this being a key guideline on NHS Scotland since 2009.

She said it appeared that Parents Inc, Scotland's parent training scheme, had run out of steam.

She said: "There was a great effort [after 2012] to roll out Parents Inc. People were trained up all over Scotland to deliver it so it was really disappointing to see that two thirds of parents hadn't been offered anything in the way of training.

"It made me think that health boards have lost the momentum on that a bit and people who were trained to deliver that have left and for whatever reason not been replaced."

Two thirds of parents felt that the diagnosis process had taken too long, and while 86 per cent said medication had improved their child's behaviour and performance at school others complained that they were dropped from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) as soon as they declined drug treatment.