FUJAIRAH // Public school teachers in remote areas are being taught to distinguish between naughty children and those who may need help with a hyperactivity disorder.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) goes largely unnoticed as it is mistaken for unruly behaviour, said Hanne al Gurg, the chief executive of Indemaj, a non-profit organisation working with schools in remote areas of the UAE.
"There is very little awareness of causes, symptoms and ways to tackle the disorder in these schools," said Ms al Gurg. "That these schools are also far out means resources and services are few as well."
Indemaj is conducting workshops in 10 schools on how to develop an inclusive environment and cater for students with mixed abilities.
Children with ADHD are often inattentive and overactive, unaware of positive ways to channel energy. It is common, affecting between 3 and 5 per cent of school aged children.
At a session for teachers at the Ibn Al Nafees Primary Boys School in Fujairah last week, Ruba Tabari, an educational psychologist at the Dubai Community Health Centre, told them to exploit the positive aspects of ADHD.
"Pupils with the disorder can be stubborn but that needn't always be a bad thing," Ms Tabari said. "If it is channelled in a way that it leads to a child completing work, then it has proved to be beneficial."
Noura Eid al Qubaisi, a special needs educator at Ibn Al Nafees, said these sessions were important as teachers were not equipped to understand troubled pupils.
"They do not know if a child is agitated it's not intentional. Teachers get frustrated in the classroom and shout," Ms al Qubaisi said. "Instead, they could ask the child to help them in the classroom. It motives them and keeps them calm."
Ms al Qubaisi said the school was trying to tailor learning programmes for each child.
Ms al Gurg said next up there would be training in screening to identify the disorder.
"We also plan to start … counselling and awareness sessions for the parents so they can manage their child's disorder effectively at home as well," she said.