The Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada (CADDAC) hosts an annual conference. This year’s was in Toronto on October 19 and 20, and Ilana and I were there. I’d like to share with you this fantastic parent resource for ADHD and some specific learnings from the conference.
The CADDAC website (https://caddac.ca/adhd/) offers information about ADHD across the lifespan and resources for managing and tapping into each individual’s greatness. They have a focus on advocacy and have produced videos under the banner of “ADHD Speaks” to raise awareness about the condition and to fight for recognition in Canada as a legitimate disability in need of resources from government, school systems, and the medical community.
As a special education teacher, I have shared the “School Toolkit” (found in the Physician Resources menu) with my colleagues to encourage them to think about how they accommodate symptoms of ADHD in their classrooms. The resource matches each symptom (from the DSM-5 criteria) with possible observable behaviours or difficulties within a school setting and with accommodation suggestions that might help. It is a great resource to use when constructing IEPs or just considering professional practice as a teacher or how to advocate as a parent. For example, if a child has difficulty remaining focused during class, the chart suggests possible accommodations such as preferential seating away from distractions, using agreed-upon prompts to refocus attention, and reviewing instructions prior to having the child complete independent work. Just this week I suggested to a parent that she could review this chart with her daughter and use it as a launching off point in discussions with the teacher on how to help her succeed in class.
The conference hosted an impressive roster of presenters, from psychiatrists specializing in ADHD, clinical and school psychologists, and a professor in the psychiatry department of an Ontario medical school. Topics included the neurobiology of ADHD, medication management, ADHD at school, ADHD into adulthood, peer and family relationships, executive functions, technology addiction, and managing meltdowns.
Many people think about ADHD as a school problem for hyperactive little boys, and it is a goal of CADDAC in general and the conference in particular to challenge this viewpoint. And while the media is often quick to suggest that ADHD is over-diagnosed in young boys whose mostly female teachers don’t understand how boys learn differently from girls (an opinion I question), many professionals are talking about the under-diagnosis of ADHD in girls and adults, including the elderly. In fact, one of the speakers runs a clinic in Ontario that specializes in the diagnosis of ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder in girls and women, as symptoms often present differently in them and can be easily overlooked or misinterpreted.
One nugget I learned about in the conference that has been floating around in my head since then is about the addictive nature of video games, especially for players with ADHD. The presenters talked about how game designers use “flow theory” to maximize the likelihood that a player will stick with a game by balancing challenges with skill level. I’m going to write a blog just on this idea in the coming weeks, so look out for it.
In short, the CADDAC conference and the website represent an excellent resource for people with ADHD, parents, and professionals. As we at Camp Kodiak continue our own professional learning, I hope to share more news and resources with you in upcoming posts.