Wednesday, October 26, 2016

You Asked, CHADD Delivers: Online Teacher Training Now Available

by Michael MacKay, JD, MS, CPA


While you can find students with ADHD in every classroom across the country, teachers have limited resources to help them understand, teach, and manage students with ADHD. They receive little pre-service or in-service training in this area. In response to this knowledge gap and pressing need, CHADD has updated its teacher training program and made it available on a state-of-the-art online education platform.

Teacher to Teacher: Supporting Students with ADHD is now available on Pepper, the country’s leading online professional development platform for educators. (Read the press release.) For the first time, educators will have unlimited, on-demand access to the Teacher to Teacher course through self-paced online learning.

Teacher to Teacher helps educators identify common ADHD-related learning problems and learn about proven classroom techniques, interventions, and the latest research to enhance school success for students with ADHD. Designed by teachers for teachers, the program assumes that teachers are overworked and in need of practical classroom tools. Parents who need assistance on how to effectively advocate for their children at school can take the training as well.

CHADD’s next goal is to get the word out to make sure that all schools and teachers across the country are aware of this educational resource.

Last summer, the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education issued a letter clarifying schools’ obligations to students with ADHD. This was seen as necessary because of the numerous complaints the department was receiving about what was actually occurring in the public schools. We all know that what was implemented was a far cry from what the legislators intended, and this letter shows that our voices were heard. The letter:
•    Explains that schools must evaluate a student when a student needs or is believed to need special education or related services.
•    Discusses the obligation to provide services based on students’ specific needs and not based on generalizations about disabilities, or ADHD, in particular.
•    Clarifies that students who experience behavioral challenges, or present as unfocused or distractible, could have ADHD and may need an evaluation to determine their educational needs.
•    Reminds schools that they must provide parents and guardians with due process and allow them to appeal decisions regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of students with disabilities, including students with ADHD.

This is a wonderful improvement for our ADHD community, and we are pleased that CHADD’s Public Policy Committee assisted in its development. It remains to be seen how it will affect what actually occurs at our schools with our children, however. CHADD, of course, will continue working with the US Department of Education in monitoring compliance.

While the new guidance clarifies the obligations, it is not at all clear how individual schools and teachers will find the resources (primarily time) to comply and accomplish the aims of the legislation (and its clarification). This is hardly a new issue for schools (or other publicly funded services where more is demanded yet resources are constrained). The relevant question then becomes how can we help, what can we do to assist in accomplishing these, oh so necessary and appropriate goals. The scenario of 30 students with 10 percent having special needs is all too common and typically presents the teacher with a decision as to how to allocate time, knowing that not all 30 students will be comparably served, as required by the teacher’s own sense of equity as well as the law.

With Teacher to Teacher: Supporting Students with ADHD available on-demand to every teacher in the country, all educators will now have access to the best practices and strategies.

If you want to learn more, visit the Teacher to Teacher page on the CHADD website or email Trish_White@chadd.org. Share this blog or the T2T flyer with your child’s teacher and school. Help us get the word out!


Michael MacKay, JD, MS, CPA, is the president of CHADD.

Friday, September 16, 2016

ADHD Is "Nothing To Be Ashamed Of," Says Simone Biles



guest post by Karen Sampson Hoffman, MA

When computer hackers revealed that Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles had tested positive for Ritalin, she was upfront and unabashed about her diagnosis.

“I have ADHD, and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid,” she wrote in a Facebook post to her fans. “Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it, is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that I'm afraid to let people know.”

The president of USA Gymnastics supported her with a statement that Biles received therapeutic use exemptions for her prescription medications from the International Gymnastics Federation, the US Olympic Committee, and the US and World Anti-Doping Associations—and that there was no violation.

Biles won four gold medals and one bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games this summer.  She had previously chosen not to disclose her ADHD but did so earlier this week because her medical information, along with that of other top Team USA Olympians, was published online without her consent.

Her situation is a familiar concern for many people who have decided to keep their ADHD diagnosis to themselves, says Matt Cohen, JD, a member of CHADD’s public policy committee. 

“People have the right to make their own decision about the privacy they maintain and to what degree,” he says.

It can become necessary to discuss your diagnosis when someone else shares your information without your consent, just as Biles experienced. Cohen says that it’s not very often, however, that another person will reveal someone’s ADHD diagnosis, either at work or among friends.

“I deal with many people with ADHD who tell me their stories,” he says. “The circumstances where there are unwanted disclosures are relatively rare. But the potential consequences can be so great that it can be invasive and damaging to the person involved.”

If a colleague discloses your diagnosis, addressing it directly is often helpful, says Cohen. This may be with your supervisor or human resources manager. If possible, talking with the colleague about the disclosure can bring a positive resolution, since most people don’t disclose with intent to cause harm. Even an accidental disclosure can have negative results, however.

Accidental disclosure can put people in a difficult situation, Cohen says. “Do they ignore it? Do they talk to their employer to resolve it? Do they take it to the person and try to resolve it? If it leads to your being stigmatized or discriminated against, that leads to a hostile environment,” he says. “The employer needs to take action in this case, or the employee may have legal grounds for action. There are very good protections for employees on paper. But in daily life, once the information is out there, people may find ways to harass someone that you can’t prove are discriminatory.”

In Cohen’s experience, most people voluntarily disclose their diagnosis to the human resources department or their supervisor and have good experiences, particularly when it comes to receiving workplace accommodations to enable them to be successful employees. However, he adds, it is risky for some employees to make that disclosure, and so they need to carefully consider the possible consequences.

“I have lots of respect for the desire for privacy and not to disclose,” he says. “But the flip side is, I have a number of clients who are reluctant to disclose and then don’t disclose until things are going badly in their lives.”

When the disclosure is made among family and friends, Cohen says it can be just as problematic because of lingering stigma related to ADHD and mental health. Taking a proactive approach often works best.

“I think it’s important for people to advocate for themselves,” he says. “It’s often useful to try to provide education about the disorder and how it affects you. I think there’s still an enormous amount of misleading information about ADHD and prejudice about it. The more that can be done to undo those misconceptions, the better.”

Biles’ response to the computer hackers’ disclosure was a good way to handle the situation, Cohen says. Her Olympic success can help to dispel some of the lingering myths about ADHD and how it might impede someone in work or school. 

“Simone Biles is a positive example of someone who can be affected by the disorder in her life and still be successful,” says Cohen. “People have the right to make their own decision about the privacy they maintain and to what degree. She is an example that you have a right to privacy, but ADHD is not something to be ashamed of. I hope she can be an inspiration for other people who have ADHD.”


Are you looking for strategies for handling your ADHD symptoms at work, regardless of your choice to disclose a diagnosis? Read Workplace Issues or watch our Ask the Expert interview with Melanie Whetzel of the Job Accommodation Network, ADHD in the Workplace: Finding Success.

Karen Sampson Hoffman, MA, is a senior health information specialist at CHADD's National Resource Center on ADHD and editor of its weekly e-newsletter.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Education Department Issues Guidelines to Protect Students with ADHD



guest post by the CHADD Public Policy Committee


Today the Office of Civil Rights of the US Department of Education (OCR) issued guidance to every public school district in the country about the implementation of Section 504 for students with ADHD. CHADD provided significant input to OCR as OCR was developing this guidance. CHADD, through its public policy committee and its professional advisory board, had ongoing and active discussion with the OCR. We shared the concerns of our members about the implementation of Section 504 and the effects on their children. We provided scientific research and knowledge about ADHD as well as our recommendations for best practices for educating students with ADHD in school and ideas about how to improve the implementation of Section 504 to benefit students with ADHD.

A 2014 survey of CHADD’s membership reinforced our concerns that the Section 504 process in the schools was clearly not working. Parents reported major violations in every step—from referral, to evaluation, to development of a student’s Section 504 Plan, to its implementation and, unfortunately to the frequent suspension and expulsion that became the outcome. The lack of appropriate referral, evaluation, and eligibility practices was particularly problematic, as it suggested that there are likely many children with ADHD that may need Section 504 protection that were not being referred or found eligible for a 504 Plan. In addition, implementation of these plans was especially troubling, with two thirds of parents reporting the plan was not implemented in the classroom.

The statistics and anecdotal reports from parents were consistent with the concerns that parents and professionals involved with CHADD frequently report. The individual stories, albeit brief, were heart wrenching and provided a painful human dimension to the statistics. These students with ADHD were being denied a free and appropriate public education and an equal opportunity for participation in school. The safeguards of the Section 504 regulations were not providing adequate protection from the problems these children experienced.

CHADD urged stronger action from the US Department of Education to ensure that school staff would understand both their obligations under Section 504 and the symptoms of ADHD and best practices for responding to it. Equally important, we urged stronger guidance and enforcement from the OCR to ensure that appropriate safeguards and supports are put in place for all students with ADHD that are or should be eligible for the protections of Section 504.

In its press release announcing the issuance of this guidance, OCR reported that more than one out of every nine complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in elementary and secondary schools that OCR received in the past five years involved students with ADHD. OCR stated the most common of these complaints concerned “academic and behavioral difficulties students with ADHD experience at school when they are not timely and properly evaluated for a disability, or when they do not receive necessary special education or related aids and services.” This verifies the seriousness of CHADD’s concerns about noncompliance with Section 504.
                                                                                                                                 
We applaud the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education for their efforts to make sure that the civil rights of students with ADHD are protected in our public schools. We appreciate the guidance on implementation of Section 504 that they have developed for all school districts nationwide.

CHADD will continue to provide feedback to the OCR about the effectiveness of the new guidance. CHADD will continue to provide science-based research findings that address the educational needs of students with ADHD, and CHADD will continue to be a leader in providing high quality teacher training, so that ADHD students and teachers too, will be partners in education.

Ingrid Alpern, JD, LLM
Matthew Cohen, JD
Jeffrey Katz, PhD
CHADD Public Policy Committee

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bringing Teacher to Teacher to Louisiana



We have a very important announcement to make, just ahead of CHADD's Annual International Conference on ADHD in New Orleans next month: CHADD, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and the Louisiana Department of Education have formed a partnership to bring Teacher to Teacher training to the Louisiana public schools. You can read the press release about the partnership below or on the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals website.

If we can bring parents, teachers, and providers together to work with each other based on the evidence-based practices that CHADD contributes... well, just try to imagine how effective that would be. This may be the most exciting thing CHADD has ever attempted!

—Mike MacKay, CHADD President


DHH Partnership Created to Improve ADHD Assessment and Treatment

State agencies bring national Teacher to Teacher program to Louisiana public schools
Monday, October 26, 2015  |  Contact: Media & Communications: Phone: 225.342.1532, E-mail: dhhinfo@la.gov

Baton Rouge, La.
—Broadening its response to both the human and financial costs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) today announced a partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), and CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), the national resource on ADHD. The partnership will train more Louisiana teachers to recognize classroom behaviors caused by ADHD and to use appropriate and effective techniques to address them.

"By working with CHADD and LDOE, we will help more Louisiana teachers identify and accommodate the learning needs of children with ADHD in their classrooms. The better prepared our teachers are, the more students will have the opportunities to succeed," said DHH Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert. "This partnership will also help reduce the number of children without a genuine ADHD diagnosis from being misidentified based on classroom behavior. It's a win for everyone."

Louisiana has one of the highest rates of ADHD prescription drug use in the country. While ADHD is a neurological condition affecting children in all communities, the rate of ADHD prescriptions is especially high in boys, with 17 percent of all Louisiana boys enrolled in Medicaid taking ADHD medication. DHH formed the ADHD Task Force in August 2014 to research and promote best practices regarding the proper diagnosis, medication and treatment of ADHD. This new partnership is an expansion of the Task Force's efforts to help ensure that teachers throughout Louisiana have the best possible information and training when instructing children they suspect or know to have ADHD.

"We want to give our students every advantage to succeed in the classroom," said State Superintendent of Education John White. "We're excited about this partnership and this pilot program because it provides our educators with the tools necessary to support these students and give them every advantage possible."

Members of the ADHD Task Force, including the State's Department of Health and Hospitals in conjunction with the Department of Education met on Tuesday, September 29, with representatives of CHADD. This coalition of local and national resources discussed an approach to assist Louisiana's teachers in recognizing when classroom behaviors are caused by ADHD and appropriate techniques to effectively address them. An implementation plan is currently being crafted that will be centered on CHADD's 'Teacher to Teacher' Program.

"CHADD is absolutely delighted to work with the State of Louisiana in order to improve the lives of children affected by ADHD. This is a first of its kind initiative whereby students, parents, teachers and health care providers will all potentially be affected due to the unique ability of the Departments of Health and Education to collaborate in assessment and problem-solving. CHADD will ensure that the State has access to the best evidence-based practices available," said Mike MacKay, CHADD's President. 

Teacher to Teacher: Best Practice Intervention Strategies to Ensure School Success is a day-long workshop that helps educators identify common ADHD-related learning problems and proven classroom techniques, interventions, and the latest research to enhance school success for students with ADHD. This interactive training allows classroom teachers to discuss solutions to common academic and behavioral problems in a case-based format.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

CHADD and Attention Point Partner to Improve ADHD Treatment Monitoring

guest blog by Sam English, PhD, and Michael MacKay, JD, MS, CPA

On September 28, 2015, CHADD announced a new benefit for parent members to help improve ADHD treatment monitoring.

“After a child is diagnosed with ADHD, and treatment initiated, it is important for parents, teachers, and clinicians to have regular ongoing communication” said Michael MacKay, president of CHADD. “Fortunately, there are new online tools available that facilitate this and we have partnered with Attention Point to make their online communication tool, DefiniPoint, available to our parent members for free.”

DefiniPoint is a HIPAA secure suite of online tools that improves communication enabling clinicians to easily gather feedback from parents and teachers about the efficacy of ADHD treatment. With this information clinicians are able to make a more informed decision on the child’s ADHD care.

“Regardless of the type of treatment involved, whether medication, behavioral therapy, or dietary treatment, it is essential the clinician know how well core ADHD symptoms are being managed and how the child is performing in important domains so adjustments can be made to optimize the child’s ADHD care,” stated David Rabiner, PhD, clinical psychologist, research professor, and associate dean at Duke University. “But unfortunately, recent research suggests that this may not always be the case. A study by Epstein et al. shows that rating scale data from parents and teachers, which help determine a child's treatment response, is rarely a part of follow-up medical visits. As a result, it is likely that many children are deriving less benefit from treatment than they would if treatment monitoring were occurring.” For this reason, ADHD treatment guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry highlight the necessity of sustained, systematic treatment monitoring.

In July 2015, CHADD and Attention Point formed a strategic partnership to increase awareness of the importance of treatment monitoring and to increase access to educational and ADHD management resources. “We’re glad to be working with such a wonderful organization and I applaud CHADD for recognizing the need for better communication,” stated Sam English, PhD, founder and CEO of Attention Point. “I believe DefiniPoint will benefit CHADD parents and families and ultimately result in better care for children with ADHD.”

Learn more about CHADD member benefits and join today.  Once you've joined, you'll receive information on how to access your free use of DefiniPoint.

If you're already a CHADD member, use the Attention Point Schedule a Call feature to speak with one of their team members.



Sam English, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Attention Point, LLC. Michael MacKay, JD, MS, CPA, is the president of CHADD.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why Participate in ADHD Research?


guest blog by Meghan Miller, PhD


Adults and families affected by ADHD often ask this question. They may wonder if it’s really worth the effort or if their input will actually make a difference. It certainly does!

Participation in research is important and crucial for three primary reasons:

  • Participating in research offers a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of individuals affected by ADHD. It is the only way we can find new treatments and improve existing ones so they work more effectively.
  • Participating in research helps us understand how ADHD develops so that we can work toward new approaches to prevent the impairments often associated with ADHD.
  • Participating in research provides you an opportunity to tell researchers what issues are important to the people most impacted by ADHD — children, adults, and family members directly affected by the condition.

An even more common question is, “What does research participation involve?” The short answer is that it varies depending on the type of research being conducted. For example, a study testing the effectiveness of a new medication will have different requirements than a study focused on understanding academic skill in children with ADHD. It is important to ask questions about the goals of the research and methods involved to determine if the research study is a good fit for you or your family member. For example, you might ask:

  • “Will my child be given an IQ test?”
  • “Will I be placed inside an MRI scanner?”
  • “Will my family member be asked to take medicine?”

Many research studies will conduct a thorough diagnostic evaluation for ADHD, often including IQ testing and sometimes including neuropsychological and academic testing. Oftentimes these studies will provide you with verbal or written feedback based on these tests — if you ask for it. Most studies also provide you with monetary compensation for your time or a small gift for your child’s efforts.

Hopefully the question you’re asking now is, “How do I get involved in research?” Here are a few resources to help get you started:

  • Head to CHADD.org, where a list of research studies from all over the country has been compiled.
  • If you’re located near a college or university, contact their psychology or psychiatry departments and ask if they have any ongoing research studies focused on ADHD. Sometimes this information will be featured on departmental websites. For example, at my institution, the UC Davis MIND Institute, we list studies in need of participants on our website. Examples of our current research studies focused on ADHD include a project focused on infants with a family history of ADHD in order to better identify ADHD early in life, a study of medication to treat ADHD in teens, and a longitudinal brain imaging study of self-control in adolescents and young adults with ADHD.
  • Ask your doctor. Sometimes physicians who treat patients with ADHD know about local research studies and can point you in the right direction.

Here at the MIND Institute, we are excited to be embarking on a new project that will link people with ADHD with clinicians, researchers, advocates, support groups, and each other through an innovative, privacy-assured online platform called Platform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly, or PEER, a project of Genetic Alliance. Led by Julie Schweitzer, PhD, this will involve partnering with local and national ADHD support groups, including CHADD and the Parent Education Network. The hope is that families affected by ADHD will be able to learn from one another by using a computer from their own homes. And, by sharing their health information, they will help researchers who are determined to develop better treatments for people with ADHD.

Ultimately, participating in research involves collaboration among individuals and families affected by ADHD, and researchers who hope to better understand ADHD.


A version of this article appears in the August 2015 issue of Attention magazine. Join CHADD and receive every issue!





Meghan Miller, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at the UC Davis MIND Institute and a member of the editorial advisory board of
Attention magazine. She is one of the recipients of the 2015 CHADD Young Scientist Research Award. Her submission was titled, “Infants at risk of ADHD: A longitudinal study.”