Edited Extract from 'Tes Talks to...Ilina Singh', by Christina Quaine, 16 March 2018.
Many criticise the practice of medicating children with ADHD – some even claim the disorder doesn’t exist. But this Oxford academic has spent 20 years researching the devastating impact of the condition – and she tells Christina Quaine that teachers have a crucial role in giving pupils the right support.
Use of ADHD medications in the UK is consistently estimated to be among the lowest in the world, and low relative to overall UK ADHD prevalence estimates. The numbers do not suggest an evil totalitarian plot against UK children.”
- Professor Ilina Singh
Politically totalitarian, physiologically inhumane and reminiscent of Stalin’s Russia. These are the views recently published by the British Psychological Society’s educational and child psychology division on medicating children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
It’s an opinion that some in education will no doubt share but it is one that worries Ilina Singh, professor of neuroscience and society at the University of Oxford.
“This misguided statement prioritises provocative rhetoric over thoughtfulness, respect and care for those families and children,” she says.
She points out that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) doesn’t recommend stimulants as a first-line treatment option for children with ADHD in the UK and that, contrary to the views of many, the use of ADHD medication in this country is not that common.
Singh encounters what she believes to be misinformation around ADHD frequently in her work: ADHD tends to be a polarising topic, with opinion quickly cited as fact. This is particularly true in education. Singh knows the arguments well; she began researching the condition in the late 1990s.