The issues and challenges that foundation phase educators experience when teaching learners with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of mainstream foundation phase educators who teach learners diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as well as to understand the intervention strategies that these educators use when dealing with these learners. The study is qualitative and based on the interpretivist paradigm. It is a case study of seven mainstream educators who were all teaching learners that were diagnosed with ADHD. The study was guided by the following research questions: What are the experiences of mainstream educators who teach learners diagnosed with ADHD? What intervention strategies do educators employ to handle learners with ADHD? What support structures exist in schools to assist educators of learners with ADHD? The study reveals that the educators in these mainstream schools do not feel sufficiently skilled and effective in meeting the learning needs of their learners diagnosed with ADHD. Their large class groups, lack of available support structures, and lack of parental support and professional intervention, contribute largely to this situation. Drugs such as Ritalin may not be a cure, but are sometimes helpful in improving learner behaviour and productivity. This however is not always possible due to the varying array of symptoms that co-exist in ADHD and the effectiveness of medication and intervention is unique to each learner. Psychological assessment assists in highlighting the unique educational needs of these learners. Educators rely on the advice and support given by physicians and psychologists. Drug therapy must be used in conjunction with behaviour therapy as this is beneficial to the learner diagnosed with ADHD and to the class environment. The findings of the study indicate the absence of remedial education in these mainstream schools. There is a need for all mainstream educators to become trained and skilled in understanding and teaching learners with ADHD. Greater awareness, involvement, coaching and support needs to be available for all those involved with ADHD. This implies that the provision of effective intervention and support will empower educators, potentially minimize the early drop out of learners affected with ADHD and facilitate a productive outcome and future for them. A limitation of this study is that this small sample size does not reflect the education setting of all mainstream schools in South Africa. Mainstream schools vary extremely in degrees of resourcefulness and class size.