When a child is diagnosed with a behavioural problem or a learning disability, it’s often because a teacher has spotted the signs of it first.
After that initial identification, a long journey can begin with the teacher bringing the matter to the attention of the parents, followed by consultation with special education experts and possible referrals to medical specialists or psychologists for a more complete diagnosis and treatment of the problem.
A psychology professor hopes to document that journey and is looking for parents to enroll in her study.
“We’re looking for children from kindergarten to fifth grade who have never received any kind of treatment, but may have been told that their child might have a problem,” said researcher Carlin Miller. “We want to follow these families for one year. We want to know about their own perceptions of their child’s problem, what kind of stress levels they’re experiencing and what kind of treatment options they’re considering.”
An expert in learning disabilities and ADHD, Dr. Miller is looking for about 50 families to enroll in the study. Participants will receive Devonshire Mall gift certificates worth $20 for the first assessment, which takes about an hour, and then $10 for two more follow up interviews. Parents will be asked to fill out questionnaires with grad students and their children don’t need to be present for any of those sessions.
“We can work around the family’s schedule,” said Miller, who added that the researchers will be able to provide parents with some feedback about their child. “We’re very accommodating.”
Miller said that initial diagnosis and determining what to do about it can be very stressful for parents, especially considering the often conflicting information that’s available about treatment options. Their child may have ADHD but treating it with pharmaceuticals has been made very scary by some media stories, she said.
“Parents have been given a lot of misinformation about ADHD, what it is and how to treat it,” she said.
Miller will appear this afternoon on Research Matters, a talk show that highlights the work of University of Windsor researchers and airs every Thursday on CJAM 99.1 FM.
If you'd like to participate in the study, contact Dr. Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.