The Inclusion of Children with ADHA in Early Years Settings

This assignment will investigate the factors that influence the successful inclusion of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the Early Years. In particular the impact of the challenging behaviour of these children will be explored and how this ultimately affects self-esteem, personal identity and relationships. The assignment will begin by defining the characteristics of children with ADHD and how these characteristics may affect inclusive practice with in the Early Years.

These issues, and the impact they have on the child’s personal, social and emotional development will be then explored, discussed and analysed in greater detail through a review of literature. However, in addition to abstract research, it is important not to lose sight of the human dimension and how the issues being discussed relate directly to the lives of young children, therefore primary research has been undertaken in the form of a case study on a child with ADHD. Support strategies to enable effective inclusion will then be considered in detail, finally the assignment will conclude by reiterating the key issues that have been considered and discussed.

Characteristics of children with ADHD and how these may effect inclusive practice. Children who demonstrate inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactive behaviours to a degree that affects their educational functioning, family and peer relationships are termed by the medical model as having ADHD. This was defined as a diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association (APA 1994) The APA further divides the diagnosis into three sub-types; the mainly hyperactive and, or impulsive sub-type, the mainly inattentive sub-type and the combined sub-type of hyperactive/impulsive/inattentive. In addition Archibald (2006) suggests,

ADHD is considered as a mental health problem and are not indicative of disability. However, diagnosis of ADHD is more common in learning disabled children and children with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. The forgoing indicates that ADHD is a complicated phenomenon, which will impact on the educational provision and successful inclusion of these children. Kewley (2001 p.23) would agree when suggesting,

“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an internationally recognised medical condition of brain dysfunction, in which individuals have problems inhibiting inappropriate behaviour and controlling impulses, so giving rise to educational, behavioural and other difficulties.” Symptoms of ADHD are clear from these definitions. Children with ADHD may experience difficulty in listening and following instructions. They may be easily distracted, often seeming inattentive when spoken to, and have problems sticking to a task, particularly one that requires sustained concentration. These children will habitually fidget and sometimes run around. They will find it hard to wait their turn and frequently interrupt their peers.

Needless to say, these behaviours can have profound negative consequences for the child’s learning and the setting as a whole. Research indicates that between 3 and 6 percent of children from a wide variety of cultural and geographical areas have ADHD, with boys outnumbering girls at a rate of 3:1. (Tannock 1998) Thus, ADHD is an important area of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and is included in the category Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. (EBD) (Poustie 1997)

It is between the ages of three and four years that most children begin to show the first signs of ADHD (Kewley 2001), significantly it has been said that you may have one child with ADHD in Early Years settings per twenty to thirty children. According to Wall (2003) inclusive education means pupils must be welcomed by the setting and be fully included by actively belonging and participating in school life. The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE) (2002) believes inclusion is good education.

However Farrell and Polat (2003) highlight the lack of research into children with EBD and go on to question whether mainstream settings can offer the care and support needed by some children with EBD. Sherman (2003) indicates that many mainstream settings are taking steps to include children with physical disabilities, but are unsure of what is needed to include children with EBD.

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