Shelly Chvala

Shelly Chvala

Easing students’ transition

Students with ADHD and ADD are getting some help thanks to a presentation by the ADHD Task Force on Oct. 18

Transitions can be challenging at any time and support can make the difference for students with ADHD and ADD as they move from elementary school to high school and then on to post-secondary education.

The ADHD Task Force presentation Supporting Transition for Students with ADHD will give families, teachers and others the information to make those changes rewarding instead of intimidating.

The ADHD Task Force was started in 2012 by Dr. Stan Eaman, a Vernon psychiatrist who saw a need for services for adults with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The task force currently has about 10 active members, including professionals, adults with ADHD and the people from the community.

“ADHD is a group of behaviours, not a disease. It is focused on behaviours and identified by using a check list of behaviours. It is managed by finding ways to modify behaviours,” said Shelly Chvala, task force member and child and family counsellor with NOYFSS ADHD programs.

ADHD has up to 20 different causes, including inheritance, birth circumstances, brain insult and sensitivity to environmental factors like food and other things. Boys and girls may, but not always, present differently, with girls being more inattentive and boys more hyperactive.

“Elementary schools’ systems are set up to support children and the teachers get excellent education, support and training. Parents and teachers can get to know each other and work together throughout the year,” said Chvala. “The transition to high school and working with several teachers changes the interactions and the behaviours of ADHD, like lack or organization, impulsive behaviour and delayed social skills, can become more apparent.”

This means the students will need support to cope with natural brain and body changes and to keep up academically and socially while not making unhealthy choices or dropping out of school. Another big change comes after high school.

“If students have had troubles in high school, they don’t want to explore any kind of post-secondary education and this limits how they can follow their interests and achieve their potential. I like to give parents and students a list of famous people, from athletes, to artists, to scientists and actors, who have learned ways to overcome challenges. They can work on their dreams and people of any age can always learn more,” said Chvala.

The task force offers group presentations and a support group for adults with ADHD throughout the year.

Supporting Transitions for Students with ADHD features keynote speaker Robert King, a retired teacher with School District 83 who had been a vice-principal and counsellor with an interest in ADHD.

There will be a panel discussion and Q&A time with community experts and a chance to talk one-on-one with representatives from community resources which offer students a variety of ways of learning.

“We hope that we will see students from high school where students are making choices about the future come out and see how they can follow their interest with the appropriate support,” said Chvala. “This is about information and awareness and maybe people will tell us about the gaps they experience and what could be done.”

Supporting Transitions for Students with ADHD takes place Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Okanagan College. The event is free and there is free parking. For more information, see vernonadhd.wordpress.com.

The ADHD Task Force welcomes new members, professionals and interested community members. For more information email Chvala at shellychvala@noyfss.org.