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Educators’ knowledge and understanding of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) : a case study of a semi-rural school in KwaZulu-Natal.

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is associated with the inability to pay attention and often results in distraction and hyperactive behaviour. This study investigated educators’ knowledge and understanding of ADHD and their ability to identify the symptoms of this disorder in the classroom. It focused on the role of the educator in managing the classroom to cater for the needs of the learner affected by ADHD in a secondary school setting. Educators in secondary schools face difficulties with the narrowing of the curriculum as more focus is placed in this phase of schooling on abstract and analytical learning approaches. Research has revealed that, for many years, it was assumed that ADHD disappears at puberty and that children with ADHD would outgrow behavioural difficulties associated with the disorder upon reaching adolescence or early adulthood. However, numerous investigations have revealed that 70% - 80% of children who exhibit deficit in attention and impulsivity in childhood continue to do so in adulthood. Educators thus need to be aware of the prevalence of ADHD in secondary schools and how to accommodate learners with ADHD in their classrooms. The study was conducted in a semi-rural secondary school in Umzinto, KwaZulu-Natal. It employed a qualitative case study approach. The participants of this research study included eight appropriately qualified, practicing educators. Data were generated by means of semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. All eight participants were involved in both research instruments. From the responses of the participants, it was evident that the educators were not equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills to deal with learners with ADHD as they claimed not to have received any training on the topic and had to acquire knowledge from experience. The participants revealed that they felt uncomfortable to deal with learners with ADHD in the classroom as they had insufficient knowledge and understanding of these learners’ special needs. The study concluded that there is a need to educate and empower educators with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify learners who manifest the symptoms of ADHD in their classrooms. Moreover, educators should be able to create classroom modifications to cater for the needs of learners with ADHD to promote effective teaching that results in effective learning for all learners.


Masters Degrees. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.