Sarah Blyth: We need to think about ADHD for more than one week of the year

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      As we come to the end of B.C. ADHD Awareness Week (October 14 to 20), I just thought I would speak to where we are at with ADHD in this province. And a few things we could do better.

      Unfortunately, students with ADHD in B.C., unlike in provinces like Newfoundland and Alberta, do not qualify for help in classrooms unless they have learning disabilities or severe behaviour problems—and most do not. With class sizes as large as they are these days, teachers are left to struggle with little help and schools end up piecing together the best they can with little funding. 

      The large group of kids in this grey area that have a hard time in school, slip through the cracks and end up having difficulty in life which end up costing more long term.

      These kids are prone to co-morbid or co-existing conditions such as bipolar, anxiety disorders, depression, addictions, oppositional defiant disorder, all three eating disorders and personality disorders. 

      Later in life, some of these folks end up in our shelters, hospitals, and jails, unwanted in our society. 

      I have met many people who suffer with ADHD like me but have ended up in the DTES. They identify with my story and have come to me with their stories. Unfortunately, when people suffer anxiety and difficulties in life, drugs can be a way to escape. 

      Twenty to 30 percent of alcoholics and drug users have ADHD. Twenty-one to 45 percent of prisoners have ADHD. Tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs all boost dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps people focus. It's the reward chemical, and people with ADHD have less of it than non-ADHD people. 

      We need to expand our designations to include ADHD in schools and in diagnosis. It will cost money in the short term but save us a lot of money in the long term. See the economic costs of ignoring ADHD here.

      Sarah Blyth is a Vision Vancouver park board commissioner and a candidate for the NDP nomination for Vancouver Quadra.



      Pete Quily

      Oct 21, 2014 at 1:15pm

      Good one, check out It's the blog for BC ADHD Awareness Week Oct 14-20th, my Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group volunteers, I and our partners organized 122 BC Libraries and bookstore in 68 BC Communities doing ADHD book displays. Has 100 documents and links to information on ADHD in adults, teens & children and links to other ADHD websites & blogs

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      Pete Quily

      Oct 21, 2014 at 1:34pm

      Great article Sarah. Wish more politicians would have the guts to go public about having ADHD. I know there are more because I've coached them. Many behind the scenes too. We do need to have more than a week on ADHD.

      We need to stop discrimination against children and teens in BC schools by refusing to give them accommodations like other province do. See page 2 on CADDAC's ADHD School report card where BC got a failing grade.

      We need to ask our MLA's to reopen the BC Adult ADHD clinic and have similar clinics in all health regions of BC as ex Green Party of BC Leader Jane Sterk who is also a psychologist proposed during the last provincial election.

      "I’d support reopening the BC Adult ADHD Clinic."

      she told me. "Reopening the BC adult ADHD clinic

      is completely congruent with our health care policy. Services should be available when people need them. The Green Party would support similar adult ADHD clinics in different parts of BC."

      Please ask your MLAs if they would do so to.


      Oct 25, 2014 at 7:39pm

      "Unfortunately, students with ADHD in not qualify for help in classrooms unless they have learning disabilities or severe behaviour problems—and most do not."

      You are misinformed. Severe LD (Q designation) and severe behaviour (H designation) do not bring with them any funding for extra help in the classroom.

      Source: resource teacher.

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