Teachers have the difficult role of maximising the outcomes and learning opportunities for all students. The intricacy of this undertaking is further complicated by conditions such as ADHD which can have a number of comorbid conditions with unexpected impacts and consequences for students, teachers and peers. ADHD adolescents are also at risk of poor mental health due to the increased challenges their condition requires them to navigate in the school setting. Understanding the neuropsychological underpinnings of impairments and symptoms can assist a teacher to navigate the complexities of the condition in order to tailor their approach and increase student success.
Our speakers are specialists in their respective fields who can provide context and practical strategies to approach these issues with confidence.
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How Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and comorbid conditions impact students in school: the psychiatry perspective - Professor Wai Chen
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and comorbid conditions can impact students in diverse and unexpected ways. ADHD often co-occur with other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders/traits (ASD), tics, language disorders, specific learning disorders, and other psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety, depression, attachment disorders and post-traumatic disorder.
These conditions interact to intensify, alter or disguise the expression of ADHD in the classrooms and playgrounds. Depression for instance can mimic ADHD, with distractibility, forgetfulness, disorganised thinking, rumination driven inattention and irritability. ASD traits can mask ADHD, as these children can hyperfocus for long period of time on topics of their circumscribed interests. Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) is increasingly recognised as new variant of ADHD, characterised by a stagnant form of inattention (instead of distractibility), hypoactivity and low efforts/motivation. SCT is often under-recognized and does not readily respond to conventional ADHD treatment, but causes severe impairments. ADHD seldom comes alone; understanding the interplay of comorbidities is essential in practical management and successful treatments; and they impact on learning, classroom behaviours and social functioning differently. This workshop introduces the audience to this knowledge and their practical application in school settings.
Professor Wai Chen is Professor of Child Psychiatry, UWA; and Head of Service of the tier 4 statewide Complex Attention and Hyperactivity Disorders Service (CAHDS), which adapts a multidisciplinary team approach to assess and treat children and adolescents with complex presentation of ADHD. He read medicine at Southampton University, and a Master of Philosophy degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, before completing a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) at the Institute of Psychiatry. He received his psychiatry and child psychiatry training as a lecturer at the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London. His research is in the areas of ADHD, neurodevelopmental disorders, emotional dysregulation, their treatments, dissociation, resilience and social recovery in CAMHS. He is a member of the prestigious Eunethydis (European Network for Hyperkinetic Disorders) by invitation. He served between 2012-2014 as an external peer reviewer for the DSM5 Clinical and Public Health Committee (DSM5 CPHC) during DSM5 revision. He is a member of the international expert advisory panel for Legatum Institute, advising the compilation of the ‘Health Pillar’ within the Legatum global ‘Prosperity Index’, compiled annually for 149 countries and as complementary index of GDP for informing federal and national government policies.
How Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and comorbid conditions impact students in school: The neuropsychology perspective - Dr Andrew Sheridan
Psychiatric disorders are often binary discrete entities (i.e. ‘yes’ or ‘no’). They help doctors to make clinical decisions, which are inevitably binary (i.e. ‘prescribe’ or ‘not to prescribe’). However, in real life, symptoms and impairments exist as dimensional traits. Some neuropsychological deficits cannot be captured by these reductive diagnoses. For these reasons, understanding the neuropsychological functioning and profiles of students presents different opportunities to understand a child and find different ways to help. Neuropsychology testing, for instance, can unpack attention into different subtypes: selective, sustained and divided attention; and these cause inattention symptoms differently. Working memory impacts learning, and retention of information as well as their manipulation in the mind. Executive functions can be fractionated into different components and tested separately. The interpretation of the findings is technical but can provide information beyond those captured by psychiatric diagnostic labels. These constructs work synergistically to improve the understanding and the care of children with ADHD, in order to optimise the realisation of their potential.
Dr Andrew Sheridan is a Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist at the Youth and Adult Complex Attention Disorders Service (YACADS) which is a statewide multidisciplinary assessment and treatment service for complex ADHD cases, based in Northbridge as part of WA Health. He is also a Research Psychologist at the tier 4 statewide Complex Attention and Hyperactivity Disorders Service (CAHDS), a multidisciplinary assessment and treatment service for children and adolescents with complex ADHD. Dr Sheridan is also a Senior Lecturer at UWA in the Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology PhD programs, as well as being a Deputy Director of the UWA Robin Winkler Clinic focusing on the Paediatric Neuropsychology assessment stream. He has previously worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and Oxford Children’s Hospital, as well as having lectured in Paediatric Neuropsychology on the Oxford University Clinical Psychology course. He is a member of the APS and is fully endorsed with AHPRA as a Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist.
Distorted Thoughts and Innovative Treatments: Adolescents with and without ADHD and the Everyday Challenges to their Mental Health - Professor Stephen Houghton
Many adolescents tend to focus on and interpret everyday ambiguous information as negative or threatening and because of this their perceptions become distorted and dysfunctional, giving rise to negative patterns of thinking that in turn lead to negative mental health. Adolescents with ADHD are at greater risk for poor mental health. It is therefore critical to address the everyday challenges that adolescents with ADHD experience in their everyday functioning. However, schools and school psychologists do not have the resources to address the increasing numbers of adolescents with and without ADHD referred for mental health problems.
The recent findings from a series of interviews conducted with (i) adolescents with and without ADHD, (ii) their parents, (iii) teachers and (iv) school psychologist’s in Perth metropolitan government and non-government schools and schools in Geraldton, Albany and Newman will be presented. These findings detail the everyday challenges to the mental health of adolescents with and without ADHD. Then an innovative adolescent self-directed 3-D-animated interactive gamification treatment program will be described. The core component of the program is Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM-I), a psychological procedure designed to therapeutically alter unhelpful negative thought patterns known to contribute to high levels of emotional dysfunction and causally linked to mental health disorders.
Professor Stephen Houghton is Professor and Director of the Centre for Child & Adolescent Related Disorders at The University of Western Australia and a Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, School of Psychological and Health Sciences, Glasgow, Scotland. He is a registered psychologist with an international reputation in the leadership of multi-site large-scale research projects in child and adolescent developmental psychopathology. He has been Chief Investigator on over 20 externally competitive funded research projects and has 170+ high quality journal publications, two books, and a major test (PsychProfiler) to his credit. Professor Houghton has successfully supervised 130+ Higher Degree thesis students to completion and has conducted numerous invited international conference presentations. His is widely reported in the international media. He is a recipient of a National Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Excellence in University Teaching Award (Social Sciences Category), and an ALTC Citation for Outstanding Contribution to University Student Learning. He was recently a recipient of the Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Award for distinguished achievement in research, scholarship, and sustained career excellence.
The School and Parent Perspective Plus Work shop Scenarios - Shelley Blakers, Principal with Kyleigh Sinclair, School Psychologist & Parents
Shelley Blakers, Principal. Shelley has more than 40 years’ experience in the Education sector, and currently works for the Department of Education. She is working in the specialist area of speech and language difficulties and disorder in the North Metropolitan and Mid-West Education Regions. Shelley’s specialisation areas include learning difficulties, disabilities and language disorders. She has post-graduate qualifications in the area of special education, as well as educational computing.