INTRODUCTIONThe purpose of this study is to do a comparison of teachers, parents and people with no experience with grade school children knowledge regarding Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The diagnostic evaluation of ADHD often contains Cobbers questionnaires which contains a 28-question teacher version and a 48-question parent version, (Wender,1995). Because a students parent and teacher plays such an important role in the diagnosis, I was interested to see how their knowledge compares with that of people with no experience with children. Teachers face an increase in the number of children who have attention problems and learning disabilities in regular classrooms (Ford, 1993). This leads them to make daily decisions about instructional methods and materials that can best be used to increase the attention and achievement of these children. Add all this extra consideration for curriculum of a regular classroom and you may have a teacher who is looking for ways to lesson the burden. I believe there may be an unintentional subject bias when completing a questionnaire for a possible ADHD student. Though a through literature review was completed and I found only one published article on teachers` attitudes or knowledge toward ADHD (Jerome, 1994). In this study there was a comparison of Canadian and American teachers` knowledge and attitudes. I was not replicating his study as I have developed my own self-report survey. The author of this study was interested in the teachers background and general knowledge of the essential concepts involved in the diagnosis of ADHD. His results suggested that both samples indicated they had little training regarding ADHD. The goal of the following study will be slightly different. I am more interested in what kinds of behaviors the three groups actually perceive as everyday behaviors for grade school children and whether their beliefs are different between the groups. This information may be helpful for future improvement to an ADHD child`s education. There has been a long history of separation between the educational system and the mental health system (Evans, S.,1995). Though there are many diagnosis taking place in the offices of hospitals and psychiatric offices, education is a very important role to consider when making these diagnosis for ADHD children. I believe the label itself could cause more harm than good for some children`s educational environment. There are many studies out there for help with ADHD symptoms in the classroom such as utilizing an automated classroom reinforcement device (Evans, J., 1995). I just do not feel most teachers are willing to invest the time in trying to understand ADHD, it is less of a burden to them to have medication for such children.
The 20 subjects in the teachers group were from the St. Joseph Missouri and North Platte school districts. There were 13 subjects in the parents group and 13 subjects in the no experience group which were all college students at Missouri Western State College located in St. Joseph Missouri.
A self-report survey consisting of a check-list of all fourteen behaviors listed as criteria for ADHD (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Also on this check-list were fourteen other behaviors that may be typical behaviors of grade school children. Can be seen in Appendix.
The procedure was to ask participants to answer a written self-report survey containing a check-list of all fourteen behaviors listed as ADHD criteria from the DSM IV and an equal amount of age appropriate behaviors. Surveys were distributed to teachers school boxes with a cover letter asking if they would complete this survey and explained the directions, and asked the teachers to return them to the office. I then returned the next day to collect the surveys from the two schools offices. For the parents and no experience groups I went into a class at Missouri Western State College called Intermediate Psychology. This made up the three groups that participated in the study. Group one consisted of college students who have had no experience with grade school children. Group two consisted of college students who were also parents of grade school children. Group three consisted of Teachers of grade school children.
RESULTSA one way ANOVA was calculated comparing how many ADHD behaviors were checked for each of the three groups of subjects and a significant difference was found, F(2,42)=7.44, p =.002. For the no experience group, the average number of ADHD behaviors checked was 6.30, for The Parents group the average was 10.69 and for the Teachers group the average was 8.31. Another one way ANOVA was calculated comparing how many non ADHD behaviors were checked for each of the three groups there was also a significant difference F=(2,42) = 6.56 p = .003. For group one the average number of non ADHD behaviors checked were 6.30, for group two the average was 9.92 and for group three the average was 6.31. These results can be seen in Figure1. The Crosstabs between the three groups and percentage of at least eight ADHD behaviors checked showed these results. In the no experience group 30.8% of participants checked over eight of the ADHD behaviors as being normal, in the Parents group 84.6% , and in the Teachers group 42.1%. The total is 51.1% of all participants would diagnose most grade school children with ADHD.
DISCUSSIONThe results of this study showed a clear difference in the groups of participants` perception of what behaviors are displayed frequently by normal grade school children. According to the DSM IV, eight of the fourteen criteria for ADHD must be displayed for a period of six months to be diagnosed. The Crosstabs between the three groups and percentage of at least eight ADHD behaviors checked showed these results. In the no experience group 30.8% of participants checked over eight of the ADHD behaviors as being normal, in the Parents group 84.6% , and in the Teachers group 42.1%. The total is 51.1% of all participants would diagnose most grade school children with ADHD. These results also show that parents are more accepting of ADHD behaviors as being normal. I did have one survey come back from a teacher where she wrote, " These behaviors are all symptoms of hyperactive children and are not displayed by most children." This survey was not entered into the data because I felt this participant tried to analyze the survey before she filled it out. This does however indicate how much this teacher knew about ADHD behaviors. Not much because only half of the behaviors on the check list were ADHD behaviors. There were some limitations to this study that should be controlled for in future studies. More subjects would have been beneficial as well as more equal group sizes. There should be more than just one particular class of college students. There were 65 surveys sent to teachers in both schools and from that 65 only 19 surveys were returned. In future studies I would suggest that all schools be used in each school district and not just two. This causes problems with generality because out of 65 surveys sent to teachers only 19 came back, this would not represent the population of all teachers in the two school districts let alone all the teacher population. It does raise an important question however. Of the teachers who took the time to fill out this survey 42.1% would diagnose most grade school children with ADHD. What about the other 46 teachers who did not take the time out to even fill out a survey? I feel those teachers may be the ones who do not have time for ADHD behaviors displayed in the classroom.
REFERENCESAmerican Psychological Association, (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. DSM-IV ed., 78-85. Evans, J., Ferre, L., Ford, L., Green, J. (1995). Decreasing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms Utilizing an Automated Classroom Reinforcement Device. Psychology in the Schools, 32, 210-219. Evans, S. (1995). Reflections on "The Efficacy of Notetaking to Improve Behavior and Comprehension of Adolescents With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder". Exceptionality: The Official Journal of the Division for Research of the Council for Exceptional Children, 5, 45-48.Ford, M., Poe, V., Cox, J. (1993). Attending Behaviors of ADHD Children in Math and Reading Using Various Types of Software. Journal of Computing in Childhood Education, 4, 183-196.Jerome, L., Gordon, M., Hustler, P. (1994). A Comparison of American and Canadian Teachers` Knowledge and Attitudes Towards Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Canadian-Journal of Psychiatry, 39, 563-567. Wender, E. (1995) Attention -Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders in Adolescence. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 16, 192-195.
Please read the following check-list of behaviors. Check ONLY the behaviors you believe grade school children display frequently for a period of at least six months. Your answers should be to the best of your knowledge and would be greatly appreciated.
_______ When required to remain seated, have difficulty doing so.
_______ Would like to be center of attention.
_______ Are distracted easily from the task at hand.
_______ Will talk about or make fun of other children.
_______ Have difficulty holding attention to a single task or play activity.
_______ Apologize to someone they have been rude to.
_______ Hop from one task to another, without completing the first one.
_______ Watch television for more than two hours per day.
_______ Fidget or squirms (or feels restless mentally).
_______ Tries to avoid brushing their teeth before school.
_______ Do not want to, or can not, wait for their turn when involved in group activities.
_______ Tries to crowd in line when in the hall or class.
_______Before a question is completely asked, children will interrupt the questioner with an answer.
_______ Walk out into the street without looking in both directions.
_______ Have problems with a job or chore follow-through.
_______ Play video or electronic games for at least an hour at a time.
_______ Can not play quietly without difficulty.
_______ More than one prompt is needed to get them motivated to take a bath or shower.
_______ Impulsively jump into physically dangerous activities without
weighing the consequences.
_______ Anticipate being noticed for a job well done.
_______ Easily lose things such as pencils, tools, papers, etc., which may be necessary to complete school or other work.
_______ Will talk to strangers if they talk to them, even though they have been told it was wrong to do so.
_______ Interrupt others inappropriately, butting in when not invited.
_______ Are very loving and thoughtful of others.
_______ Talk impulsively or excessively.
_______ Have trouble keeping their shoes tied and do not care that they are untied.
_______ Others report children do not seem to be listening when spoken to.
_______Will make friends with other children easily at a public park.
Please indicate if you are a Teacher, Parent, have had no experiences with grade school children, or other (explain).