The child who exhibits AD/HD together with serious conduct problems poses challenges to the teacher on all fronts. Students with this combination of problems will have some or all of the problems of overactivity, impulsiveness and inattentiveness coupled with a negative attitude and very challenging behaviour. Conduct disorder is characterised by a severe tendency to break rules, defy the teacher’s authority, and disrupt lessons. Anti-social behaviour, including stealing and aggression to others are also aspects of conduct disorder. These features are often (though not always) accompanied by a very poor attitude to school-work. As with other cases that we have discussed, the behavioural and attitudinal problems can mask the learning problems associated with AD/HD and sometimes cause teachers to misinterpret them as being the product of the student’s attitude. A distinctive feature of the child with conduct disorder, however, is the intensity and frequency of their disruptive behaviour. Also, where many of the behavioural patterns we have discussed in relation to other students can be a cause of weariness and irritation to their peers and teachers, conduct disorder is defined by its effect of inspiring fear and a sense of danger in those exposed to it. Tom was one such student.
Although Tom was only 14 when he arrived at the school, he had already been a student at five previous schools. Although the precise details of why he had moved so frequently were difficult to establish, it soon became clear that he did not have very positive expectations of his new school. He presented himself as someone with very little interest in school and less interest in working co-operatively with staff. He also showed that he could be aggressive and provocative towards some of his fellow students, whilst at the same time seeking to ally himself with others.
Tom was a complex individual who was often disruptive, but not always when one would expect. In dealing with him over the early months staff noticed that more often than not the sparks would fly due to seemingly insignificant issues. He would