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.
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.
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.
The School and Parent Perspective Plus Workshop Scenarios – Shelley Blakers, Principal with Kyleigh Sinclair, School Psychologist