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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Waldorf and ADHD

Three years after our family left the Waldorf school our daughter was diagnosed
with ADHD. This may explain the severity of some of her problems. The condition
makes her highly sensitive and this probably made her a magnet for bullying. It
also meant she had difficulty with concentrating and sitting still during

However, it doesn't change her story. She may have been more vulnerable to
bullying than the average child, but the school made no attempt to resolve this,
in fact on one occasion a teacher told me that 'She asked for it.' She may have
been difficult in class, but was her teacher's response, to make her stand in
the corner for rest of the lesson, an appropriate one? The school also refused
to allow her psychiatrist to observe her in class which may have helped to get
her diagnosed. The school's opinion was always that Joanna's behaviour was
because she was emotionally disturbed because of problems in her home life.

I am now very worried that some Waldorf schools, are saying that Steiner
education is especially good for ADHD children. While I agree that the
structured day of the Kindergarten did suit Joanna well, once in Class 1 the
Steiner system, in retrospect, was most unsuitable. The 2 hour main lesson must
have seemed like torture to her.

Most importantly, my daughter was asked to leave because of her behaviour. Some
of it may well have been due to her ADHD and a lot to the reaction of the other
pupils to her ADHD and the fact that the teacher could not cope with her. I am
amazed that, in spite of this, Waldorf schools, including the one our family
attended, are claiming to be especially suited to ADHD children. At least one
other ADHD child was asked to leave this school. It seems they are not good at
coping with this special need. I would have hoped that at least they had learned
this, but it seems that is not the case.

ADHD children are particularly bad at coping with rejection. Schools should
never go out of their way to attract them unless they are as sure as they can be
of their commitment to the child and of their ability to meet their needs. The
Waldorf school Joanna attended was totally unable to meet her needs. She went on
to an ordinary village primary where they did cope. Even though she was still
undiagnosed they helped her immensely and never felt the need to blame us or to
call her emotionally disturbed.