A close relative of mine is a primary school teacher. She has been teaching her own class for about 8 years' now across multiple grades at a very large public school. In the past three years' specifically, she has taught children with undiagnosed behaviours, children who display behaviours very similar to that of children with autism, ADHD, ODD amongst other 'on the spectrum' disorders.
How the system currently works is that extra funding comes with children who have been diagnosed with a disorder by a doctor. Meaning, if you teach a child with, say, ADHD, your school will receive extra funding to pay for a second teacher who can work in the classroom one-on-one with the diagnosed child, whilst the main teacher can focus their time evenly across the other 29 students in the class.
However, if the parents of the child do not choose to have their child assessed, then there is no funding can be allocated. Schools cannot force parents to have their children assessed.
This creates various issues in the classroom. For example, the lack of help means she is spending her time trying to deal with the undiagnosed student during their daily outburst at the expense of the other students' learning. Her most recent student will roll around on the carpet, throw stationery, pull work off walls, pushing other children over, cry and scream in the middle of a lesson, defy any instruction, and all round consume the time of the teacher trying to calm them down.
Again, the other 29 students in the class suffer from this, as the teacher is pulled away from their main duties (of teaching the entire class) to trying to ensure that one student doesn't hurt themselves or another child.
The parents, for various reasons, refuse to take their child to see a specialist:
- a diagnosis can bring shame in certain cultures
- a diagnosis puts a 'label' on their child
- a diagnosis can mean your child is perceived as different from the rest of the class and treated differently
- pure ignorance that they don't think anything is wrong
As someone who doesn't work in child education, it is baffling to me that there isn't some sort of third-party who comes along and watches the child for a week and then assess them, without any input from the parents.
Do you think parents' should continue to have the final say on getting their child assessed (and hence, restrict funding to schools), or do you think we should take this choice out of their hands and have an independent party make this call?