Advocates of students with ADHD in the school system are usually parents who must become advocates in response to the child's need for support and a call for parental involvement from the school. Parent advocates are confronted with many challenges, the primary being the daunting, often solitary task of advocating for a child who is often viewed by teachers and peers as unruly, disrespectful and underachieving. Resources available to parent advocates include legal and medical resources regarding ADHD which are regularly resourced to advocates by advocacy organizations and clinicians. Topics include medical diagnosis, treatment and educational rights and planning for ADHD students. In addition, a set of more diverse ADHD resources exists in the literature that discusses various influences on student behavior and achievement that parent advocates can consider in combination or in place of medical and educational ADHD resources. Diverse ADHD resources present a breadth of information ranging from misdiagnosis of ADHD to conditions that contribute to inattentive student behavior such as giftedness, physiology (including the impact of brain maturation, dietary omega-3, ferratin levels, pediatric sensory issues, and eye conditions), environment and exercise. This study uses a phenomenological research method to further understand the experience of parent advocates, specifically by interviewing parent advocates of students with ADHD in school. Findings include several themes organized in the following four categories: 1) Identifying and Treating ADHD in the School Context, 2) ADHD Advocates Need more Support from Schools, 3) Advocate Experience with the School is a Swinging Pendulum and 4) Advocates Struggle to Pave a Path for Success. Recommendations for further research include qualitative research to further understand parent advocate experience in identifying and treating ADHD in the school context,specifically to understand the impact on advocate interpretation of ADHD-type behaviors after being presented with a list of non-ADHD conditions the precipitate ADHD-type behaviors. In addition, quantitative research is recommended to gather data regarding what advocates need in support from schools as they work to pave a path for success for their children. The work presented in this thesis explores the experience of parent advocates of students with ADHD in school in an effort to understand and improve parent advocate experience.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2013. Major: Work, Community, and Family Education. Advisor: Dr. Rosemarie Park. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 182 pages, appendices A-D.
Phenomenological study of the experience of parent advocates of students diagnosed with ADHD.
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