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  #1  
Old 10-07-09, 04:05 PM
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HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

So I am in a class this semester that is supposed to introduce future teachers to various disorders they may encounter in their classroom. However, I am finding it increasingly hard to attend that class due to the complete misrepresentation of not only actual definitions of the disorders we are learning about but also what their limitations are.

In order to explain better I will give you a quick personal history. I am 24, graduated from college in 2007 with a B.A. in Psychology I have ADHD. Worked for about two years with severely behaviorally challenged children in residential treatment. Went to grad school in Psychology for a while before deciding to pursue a teaching degree (B.S. in Elementary Education) which is where I am now. I plan to go back to grad school to pursue a teaching certificate to work with higher need behavioral children and then a PhD in School Psychology. I have a passion for working with children with behavior disorders, especially ADHD and want to devote my life to helping those people. I do a lot of research both unofficial and official on this topic and consider myself a (very) unofficial "expert" on the topic.

Ok, so here is my issue. I am in this class where no one knows my diagnosis but my professor is telling us what children with ADHD and LD's (which he uses interchangeably as if all LD's and BD's are the same and if you have one you have them all) can and can't do. He goes on and on about how all children with these disorders need extra attention and you will have to work one on one with them and they can't handle stimuli and can't handle this and that. I can't handle HIM! At the end of the lecture today he said that the biggest behavior problems for people with ADHD come during high school because they see all their friends going off to college and know they will never be able to do that because they have ADHD. I almost got up and left. I not only am in college but am working on my second degree and have ambitions to pursue further education. I'm not saying it has been easy, or that I haven't wanted to quit... but, I'm doing it and it IS possible.

In our class on Monday he compared ADHD to mental retardation and said that student's with ADHD usually have lower intellegence and really the only thing that is different about ADHD and mental retardation is the hyperactivity. Which he says is a "seizure-like movement disorder". I am so upset by this class and I am upset for so many reasons.

First, everything he says is practically made up. I mean I have a Psychology degree and have practiced in the field for 2+ years and 2 years specifically with children and I am barely passing his class because of his definitions of various disorders.

Second, I feel like screaming out, "I have ADHD how do you explain me being in your class!" But I don't feel like letting 200+ strangers know about my disorder. Nor do I think I should have to do this in order for a professor to acknowledge disorders do not equal an incapability to perform.

I need advice from fellow ADDers as to how to deal with this situation. He is literally instructing hundreds of future teachers that children with ADHD need to be talked to like 2 year olds and is giving classroom advice that will embarrass and humiliate children if truly implemented. Everyone in my class thinks I'm over reacting but none of them have a background that would allow them to really know these disorders prior to this class. I am just so depressed about this and it is so hard to keep going to a class where you feel like the professor might as well be saying "All women are only good for cooking" (I'm a women, I'm making a point). He is creating a false representation of what a child or individual with ADHD looks like. He also presents it as a choice. These children are choosing not to pay attention. They are refusing to control their behavior. Most "normal" people grow up to learn to control their behavior but ADHD children don't. But he makes it sound as if ADHD children aren't trying to learn to control their behavior. Like it's a choice and they are just "bad" for not trying.

Grrr, I could go on for hours about this guy but I don't know what to do. Any advice please!! Do I talk to him, his boss, the dean? I feel like the professor won't get it and I don't really feel like sharing a disorder with someone who is talking the way he is. Idk. Help.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:20 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

Is there any thing written that he uses in class that is what he lectured on? If you have proof of false information and can supply the diagnostic information from the DSM and journal articles that show his info is false, I would talk to the department dean. You do not need to go into your personal health information.

A good source for science based information is:
http://www.help4adhd.org/en/about/wwk
which has lots of links to the different statements from the medical associations, NIH, etc and there are links to education issues and lots of info backed by studies.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:24 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

Ask him what his disorder is that makes him a close minded ignorant and apathetic douchenozzle.

I fear that you would be ridiculed if you stood up and spoke against him, because that's what these kind of people do. They will just repeat the same thing over and over again until they themselves and others around them believe it.

Their brain is a nail and they learned by having a hammer bashing it in. You try and pull a nail off gently with your fingers... and they will use the only tool they know: the jackhammer with Knowledge written on it.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:37 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

Wow. That's a tough situation. I don't think you'll last long saying nothing, so it probably is a good idea to get a plan together so that you can act in a thought-out fashion and avoid saying or doing something you'll regret later.

Do you think you could approach him directly, to calmly and unthreateningly ask a few questions about why he is making certain assertions? The direct approach is usually best. If that fails, it might be time to escalate. But at least you gave him a chance to either explain himself or clean up his performance.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:43 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

First of all, let me congratulate you on your own academic success and I wish you the best as you prove by example that this professor of yours is patently wrong. Perhaps you could meet with this professor and, without "outing" yourself, demonstrate through your own research that you believe that what he is stating is false. If brave enough, maybe even confess to having ADD. I believe the best way to knock down prejudice of all kinds is to get to know someone from a certain background (in your case a successful and motivated student who just happens to have ADD).

Best of luck.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:46 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

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Originally Posted by andyum View Post
First of all, let me congratulate you on your own academic success and I wish you the best as you prove by example that this professor of yours is patently wrong. Perhaps you could meet with this professor and, without "outing" yourself, demonstrate through your own research that you believe that what he is stating is false. If brave enough, maybe even confess to having ADD. I believe the best way to knock down prejudice of all kinds is to get to know someone from a certain background (in your case a successful and motivated student who just happens to have ADD).

Best of luck.
So I wrote this out and was thinking of e-mailing it to him. Not sure if it's threatening or not though. I don't think it is but I always suck at this stuff because in my perfect world everyone would just be straight up honest with each other instead of beating around the bush. Let me know what you guys think.

Hello,
I thought I would send you an e-mail because I am struggling to understand some of the information we are talking about in class. As someone with a B.A. in Psychology and multiple years of experience working with children diagnosed with a wide spectrum of behavior disorders and well as learning disabilities my experience does not seem to be consistent with some of the information we have learned so I am hoping to get some clarification. I am wondering where the definitions and characteristics presented in class for the various disorders we talk about are coming from. My work with the DSM-IV has allowed me to become very familiar with it and the information in class does not seem consistent with the diagnostic criteria and definition of some of the disorders.

My specific area of interest in my Psychology career happened to be that of ADHD and I have devoted a lot of my time to becoming very familiar with this disorder and was concerned by some of what was said about individuals with ADHD. I feel there may be a misrepresentation of this disorder to the class that could produce unintentional prejudice towards children that have this disorder. While I don't expect these things to be discussed in depth in this class, the generalizations made about these children seem to suggest that ALL children with ADHD or a learning disability will have the same specific problems. I believe it was also implied (and I could be wrong) that children with a learning disability or ADHD are over lower intelligence than "normal" children and need special attention. However, this is not the case even most of the time. Children without comorbid disorders are rarely of lower intelligence and even those with comorbid disorders don't necessarily have lower intelligence but may struggle to express themselves in a way that demonstrates their true intelligence. In fact, a recent study at Yale (May 2009) found that it's not the intelligence that is impaired with these individuals but the executive process. The author describes it like this, "Each of these individuals might be compared to a symphony orchestra of very talented musicians who cannot produce adequate symphonic music because the orchestra lacks an effective conductor." (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150478.php)

I feel that the way that these topics are being covered may produce an unintentional prejudice towards children with learning disabilities. A disability doesn't mean that a child is not capable of learning something. It means that they are differently-abled, they need to learn it in a different way. It is also more likely that rather than special treatment and a constant focus on their disorder, these children would just like some patience from their teachers and adults. A lot of the information that we have covered seems to be presented in a pretty black and white manor, but it is rarely black and white. Children with ADHD or a learning disability may struggle with extrenuous stimuli and some may benefit from having that external stimuli removed. Not all children with ADHD struggle with this and therefor it should not be assumed that removing the external stimuli is necessary. There are three different sub-types of ADHD and each sub-type creates different challenges for the child with the disorder. Not all children with ADHD are hyperactive. It should not be assumed that they will all present with excessive energy. All children are "hyperactive" to an extent.

I am just concerned that the information, especially about this disorder, needs to be carefully handled. We are starting to see a world where more and more children are being diagnosed with a very serious disorder because of the misconceptions about the disorder. A teacher should not assume an active child has this disorder, and should not treat him as if he were "special". It is a delicate situation that should not be overly simplified and I am concerned that some of the things said in class may be creating a stigma for children with this disorder. I would hate to see a teacher try to help a child with ADHD with the assumption that having this diagnosis means he will be running around like crazy, be unable to handle any extraneous stimuli, and have trouble paying attention when this is not a universal presentation of the disorder. It will only embarrass a child when a teacher makes these assumptions.

I hope that perhaps some of this information can be clarified for me so I can better understand how these disorders are being defined in class, and perhaps more care can be taken in the future to not label a disorder with a universal set of symptoms and abilities.

Sincerely,
Dre
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Old 10-07-09, 05:05 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

This transcript of a workshop by Russell Barkley has changed more than a few minds. You can find it here: http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/showarticle/2054

Also of possible use here is the International Consensus Statement on ADHD This is a very good handout for those doubting the existence of ADHD
http://www.russellbarkley.org/images...sus%202002.pdf

You might read them and see if they can be of some use.

If your professor is willing to read and learn, then both have been helpful for many wanting to get others to understand ADHD.

You are in a tough situation. Good luck whatever you decide.

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Old 10-07-09, 05:14 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

As an ADDer with a B.A. and an A.A. in unrelated subjects, I take exception to this prof's comments. As a person who has been held accountable to the public's trust (as a minister), I would be inclined to say that what is said in public needs to be defended in public ("What's the chapter and verse, please?" "And your backup documentation is what again?"). Your personal medical history is not negotiable. The prof's credibility is. That you have personal experience with these issues is not the point. What is your professional education, study, and experience - that is important!

Too often, people are heard only because no one else is speaking. We are counting on you. Silence isn't always golden. Sometimes it is cowardice. These people this prof is dissing need an advocate who knows what she is talking about (and who has intestinal fortitude)!
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Old 10-07-09, 05:16 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

P.S. Winning doesn't mean you have to change the prof's mind. It just means keeping everyone else's open.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:21 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

That is a really awful situation to be in. I have had a couple of professors over the years who went on for some time about how depression was an excuse for people to take drugs instead of improving their lives or ADHD was invented so teachers could drug disruptive kids. With few exceptions, I just gritted my teeth and sat through it. In my classes, though, these were just tangents, not the focus of the classes, and they weren't teacher training classes.

I can't imagine having to balance the potential hindrance to your education that taking some action, like sending the excellent letter you've written, might create against having to sit through an entire class, knowing everything you were being told was garbage, and that your future teacher classmates were being dangerously misinformed. I honestly have no idea what I'd do, and I think it's really admirable that you're contemplating taking some action, knowing it could prove detrimental to you personally.

It is frightening that the people teaching these things in colleges are so seriously misinformed about such very basic facts. One other option that occurred to me, if his syllabus or handouts reflect some or all of his errors, is to contact an ADHD advocacy group with them, who in turn might contact the Dean or department head. You could even do this anonymously.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:35 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

I would have stood up and yelled out: "I have ADHD and you're talking a huge load of crap!" or something similar and probably much less polite...

I think you've shown excellent self-restraint by not yelling out yourself!

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Old 10-07-09, 05:47 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

I don't mean to be the bad guy, but you are kind of an exception. Most people with ADHD aren't successful and they won't be. Most people with ADHD do need one on one attention in the classroom to succeed. Most people with ADHD do have issues with being distracted by sensory stimuli such as loud noises.

When he's talking about people with ADHD, LDs, whatever else, he's talking about statistical models. He's talking about "the majority," not "all." The fact of the matter is, most people with ADHD are going to be terribly unsuccessful with horrible life outcomes. Many don't make it out of high school. Most don't finish college.

So just because you've managed to accomplish all these things (I have too), doesn't mean most people with ADHD have or will or can. He's not misguided to tell you what happens with ADHD when that is the case for most people with it.

When you talk about people with a disorder, you're talking about the theoretical model presented by the statistics, not about every single individual. I don't think he's being "prejudiced," I think he's presenting things as they are.

That said, children with ADHD are no more likely to have low intelligence than people who have it. He's flat out wrong about that, though he's probably basing his opinion on the fact that children with ADHD are much harder to teach. You may want to poke around some of the psychology databases on your university's library access for "ADHD + IQ" to find some research that indicates that they score within the normal range, and show him, so he knows better for future classes. I've posted one such article in another thread that's floating around here about ADHD and intelligence just today.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:55 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

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Originally Posted by m1trLG2 View Post
At the end of the lecture today he said that the biggest behavior problems for people with ADHD come during high school because they see all their friends going off to college and know they will never be able to do that because they have ADHD. I almost got up and left. I not only am in college but am working on my second degree and have ambitions to pursue further education. I'm not saying it has been easy, or that I haven't wanted to quit... but, I'm doing it and it IS possible.

In our class on Monday he compared ADHD to mental retardation and said that student's with ADHD usually have lower intellegence and really the only thing that is different about ADHD and mental retardation is the hyperactivity. Which he says is a "seizure-like movement disorder".

But he makes it sound as if ADHD children aren't trying to learn to control their behavior. Like it's a choice and they are just "bad" for not trying.

Do I talk to him, his boss, the dean? I feel like the professor won't get it and I don't really feel like sharing a disorder with someone who is talking the way he is. Idk. Help.
1. i wasn't diagnosed with adhd until i was 28... AFTER i'd received a scholarship to go to my first university, gotten a degree in journalism and gone back to school to work on a second degree to hopefully get into med school. wonder how i managed all that with low intelligence. that's laughable. what he doesn't understand is that smart kids with adhd just develop better coping skills and learn to play the game better and when it comes down to it have to work a lot harder, but it doesn't mean they aren't capable. so yeah... he's certainly out to lunch there.

the only thing i would agree with is that some adhd children would certainly benefit from one-on-one instruction. if schools had infinite resources i'd suggest that all adhd children get some one-on-one instruction. the stuff they miss by having to regulate their attention in a class by themselves all the time is huge. i, for example, was very late to pick up math skills because of my adhd-related working memory deficit. i still have to work very hard at math and can only succeed with a private tutor for one-on-one instruction.

2. my brother has adhd as well and he has a lot more "H" than i do, but he certainly doesn't look like he's having a seizure. that's ridiculous! i'd describe my brother more as a tornado. he ploughs through life leaving a path of destruction in his wake. he slams doors and drawers and uses every dish in the house to make a meal. he can't bear standing in line for any amount of time. but seizures? no way.

3. i hate when the idea that if we only tried harder we could do better gets propagated. adhd is diagnosed because we have tried harder and continue to try hard but still come up short. if it were just a case of learning control there wouldn't be a disorder to diagnose. a disorder implies that it isn't under the person's full control.

4. i'm not sure what you should do. i would hesitate to speak to the prof directly as his views are so far from reality that he is likely not to see things any other way. if you have to write term papers i would try doing one on adhd and using very good references from doctors and psychologists and scientific studies in hopes of beating the truth about it into him. he can't argue with your term paper if you have good sources to back everything up. but if he does grade you poorly due to his misguided ideas i'd then go to the dean and show him/her your work and your sources and let the problem be known. so yeah... if it is affecting your grade and you have something concrete to show the dean with sources to back up your version of things that might be the best thing to do. just go in there prepared.

good luck. it must be stressful for you. i have bipolar disorder in addition to adhd and i get furious when people propagate the idea that we are all capable of mass murder etc. when ill. i can be crazy as all get out and i'd never kill another person. that isn't related to bipolar disorder at all. also people think bipolar is just random moodiness... arrrrghhh. with your education of course you know that is not the case.
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Old 10-07-09, 06:03 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

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Originally Posted by KMiller View Post
I don't mean to be the bad guy, but you are kind of an exception. Most people with ADHD aren't successful and they won't be. Most people with ADHD do need one on one attention in the classroom to succeed. Most people with ADHD do have issues with being distracted by sensory stimuli such as loud noises.

When he's talking about people with ADHD, LDs, whatever else, he's talking about statistical models. He's talking about "the majority," not "all." The fact of the matter is, most people with ADHD are going to be terribly unsuccessful with horrible life outcomes. Many don't make it out of high school. Most don't finish college.
i have to agree with much of this even though i did reply to this post saying the teacher is out to lunch on a lot of things and that i too am not the typical adhd model. i have a degree and am working now to get into med school but my brother who also has adhd can't seem to get through college and just scraped by passing high school. he tests out as having "high-average intelligence". so yeah, many adhd-ers won't be as successful as i have managed to be... my brother is an example of this. it brings me to tears because he is so smart and seemingly capable but his deficits are just too great.
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Old 10-07-09, 06:16 PM
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Re: HELP! Professor propagating prejudice against ADHD and LD

it's a good email/letter but don't send it to the prof. send it to the dean of the department. let them deal with any inaccuracies in his teaching that you point out. you are doing the right thing by pointing them out but you are not the one who is able to change the content of the class, nor should you try. it might just hurt your own grade. send the letter above the prof and see if they can handle it by correcting the class curriculum at a later date.
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