An analysis of the discourses on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in US special education textbooks, with implications for inclusive education

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine the discourses on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) found in textbooks used in pre-service special education programmes in the USA. Five textbooks are examined with the intent of discovering how ADHD is portrayed to future teachers. A discourse analysis framework is utilised, revealing five categories that structure the discourses of textbooks: definition, causes, symptoms, characteristics, and treatment. Examples of each are provided, followed by a critical analysis of the underlying meanings and assumptions. The analysis reveals an overwhelmingly medicalised narrative in which children diagnosed with ADHD are presented as inherently dysfunctional and devoid of positive characteristics. Two implications of this analysis are suggested: (1) teachers are likely to limit their pedagogical responses to these children in favour of relying upon medical knowledge and (2) teachers are apt to construct policy that is inconsistent with the goal of inclusive education to embrace diversity in the classroom. Lastly, the importance of exposing pre-service teachers to an alternative discourse on ADHD is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-51
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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