For the most part, I have found that working with children in an OSHC setting has been gratifying and rewarding, but sometimes it has been overwhelming, especially when I was new to the sector.
Even seasoned OSHC educators can find it challenging to manage, support and educate children who have all manner of typical and atypical behaviours, including diagnoses such as ASD, FASD, ODD, ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Tourette and Conduct Disorder.
I don’t know about you, but up until recently, I hadn’t heard of Conduct Disorder. And I didn’t know (until I went looking) that around 84,000 children and adolescents across Australia have this disorder, and that the prevalence of this condition is highest in families who had poor family functioning?
I found this information in the 2015 Australian Government report called “The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents”. Some of the statistics in this report were alarming and have real implications for those of us working with primary school age children in the OSHC setting.
This health report focuses on “four types of mental disorders (anxiety, major depressive disorder, ADHD and conduct disorder)”. According to this report, there are 246,000 children and adolescents in Australia with one or more of these disorders. That’s nearly a quarter of a million Australian children!
Of these, about 44% of parents and carers had not accessed health services to treat these disorders in the previous 12 months.
That’s also alarming!
Some of the reasons for not accessing health professionals included parents or carers who “preferred to handle” the child’s mental disorder themselves, or they were “concerned what people might think” or they “thought the problem would get better by itself”.
Generally, problems don’t get better by themselves. If there is no acknowledgement of a mental health problem, and no treatment plan, how can educators effectively support children with challenging behaviours that could be associated with the above-mentioned conditions, including Conduct Disorder?
What do you know about Conduct Disorder? Have you had any experience in educating and caring for children with Conduct Disorder?
It’s a difficult topic, I know, but I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences. Others might too!