Academic journal article School Social Work Journal

Facilitating Urban School Social Worker Collaboration with Teachers in Addressing ADHD: A Mixed-Methods Assessment of Urban School Social Worker Knowledge

Academic journal article School Social Work Journal

Facilitating Urban School Social Worker Collaboration with Teachers in Addressing ADHD: A Mixed-Methods Assessment of Urban School Social Worker Knowledge

Article excerpt

Introduction

The increasing prevalence of attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continues to present challenges for teachers. An estimated 3 to 11 percent of school-aged children meet criteria for the disorder, placing at least one child with ADHD in every American classroom (Visser et al., 2013). Teachers, however, report lacking sufficient knowledge for early detection and skills for effective management of ADHD and express the need for assistance with interventions (Fabiano & Pelham, 2003). Particularly in need of support are teachers in high-poverty urban schools, where resources are often limited.

Walter, Gouze, and Lim (2006) assessed teachers' beliefs about mental health needs of children in inner-city schools. In this study, teachers rated implementation of behavior plans and ADHD as the most important topics for in-service education. Although teachers who sought varied sources to educate themselves about mental health issues had not received either formal training or consultation on the subject, Walter and colleagues (2006) concluded that they would benefit from education, training, and consultation from mental health professionals. Given the complex intersection between environmental factors and the neurobehavioral characteristics of ADHD, it is fitting that providing assistance to teachers would fall to school personnel with both clinical and macro systems training. Accordingly, school mental health literature identifies the school social worker role as key to helping develop interventions for students with ADHD and encourages their collaboration with teachers (Brener, Weist, Adelman, Taylor, & Vernon-Smiley, 2006; Garrett, 2006; Lynn, Mckay, & Atkins, 2003). However, little is known about school social workers' knowledge of ADHD and related interventions.

Overall, school social work preparation has been scarcely researched, and the related literature on ADHD remains fairly conceptual. A review of the literature yielded calls for support from school social workers in providing effective services for students with ADHD (Brener et al., 2006; Garrett, 2006). A few other resources focused on assessing aspects of graduate school training related to ADHD and school social work practice issues (Berzin & O'Connor, 2010). The latter provide some insight into the training of school social workers and the potential gaps in the graduate school curriculum. One study assessing the ADHD curriculum found limitations. Stone and Gambrill (2007) reviewed ADHD content in school social work textbooks and found that these had outdated information; none contained current comprehensive references regarding psychopharmacological and psychological treatments of ADHD. However, because the study was limited to the review of textbooks, no other assumptions can be made about additional sources for information on ADHD, such as peer-reviewed journals or professor instruction.

Another study found that those who completed school social work training in graduate school felt better prepared for the field than those who completed only general master's level social work programs and were working as school social workers (Slovak, Joseph, & Broussard, 2006). There is evidence, however, that programs that offer specializations in school social work also have great variability in curriculum (Torres & Patton, 2000). Many graduate schools of social work are not yet on par with comparable programs such as school counseling and school psychology programs in providing specific professional preparation and supervised field practicums for social workers in the school setting (Altshuler & Webb, 2009).

Although social work schools are charged with preparing their graduates to work in a variety of settings, they are not the only source of training that social workers seek and receive. Social workers have reported feeling that their graduate training is not enough; many seek post-master's training and rely on workplace training for advancing practice skills (Anastas & Videika, 2012, p. …

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