How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs


10:22 pm - August 14th 2010

by Carl Packman    


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On July 22nd I wrote a small blog entry on my website about a dodgy article in the Daily Mail about children with special educational needs.

In my entry I asked: “[a]t what point do we suppose the Daily Mail not only dislikes the inclusion of young people with special educational needs in schools, but doesn’t think special educational needs exist outside of the 2% once designated before the Warnock report of 1978.”

Of course the article in the Mail doesn’t explicitly say there is no such things as Special Needs because in doing this, not only would they be wrong (this shouldn’t phase them too much), they’d open up the grounds for a whole campaign and would alienate a large amount of people (even if those people are Mail readers).

The Mail article stated that “it has also been claimed” that doctors, teachers and parents are too keen to pin medical labels – such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – on “what might previously have been branded poor discipline”.

It then quoted Dr Gwynedd Lloyd, an education researcher at the University of Edinburgh, who said:

You can’t do a blood test to check whether you’ve got ADHD – it’s diagnosed through a behavioural checklist. Getting out of your seat and running about is an example – half the kids in a school could qualify under that criterion.

My charge is obviously against the unsourced article where the Mail, instead of making a claim themselves, have claimed that “doctors, teachers and parents” attest to children being overbranded.

Then last week a comment appeared below my entry by Dr Lloyd herself telling me that:

The daily mail used a quote from me, without my permission, from another article that took a different approach. My argument is not that ADHD doesn’t exist, it is that we are clustering together lots of difficult and challenging behaviour under one rather simple diagnosis and then using stimulant medication. Of course such children need additional support in school and should get it. The daily mail used my quote out of context to support their argument against inclusion. I disagree completely with their conclusions!

Of course! The Mail don’t make claims themselves, they use claims by other people in order to hide what they really think, but even better than that, they use quotes from people who don’t even agree with the charge they are hiding behind.

I contacted Dr Lloyd through her work email to verify whether it was really her who had left the comment. After confirming this she told me that she was:

really fed up with the Daily Mail using this bit of a quote. The original was in the Guardian and has since appeared without context (and to support opinions I dislike) twice in the Mail and one in the Telegraph. – so not just the tabloids!

So let it be known, the Mail (and the Telegraph) will use quotes out of turn, without permission, to write ill-thought commentary on subjects they find contentious. Why people continue using this rag for information is well beyond me.

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About the author
Carl is a regular contributor. He is a policy and research analyst and he blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
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Reader comments


Doesn’t this sort of thing qualify for at least two of Tom Scott’s warning stickers?

I think you’re probably right there Daveip1966 heh

3. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Why people continue using this rag for information is well beyond me.

They don’t, they use it to confirm what they already believe.

Not the first time they’ve pulled this, either – http://www.badscience.net/2009/10/jabs-as-bad-as-the-cancer/

urgh, the Daily Fail seemingly will stoop to any level to pursue its vile agenda’s.

5. alienfromzog

I think what depresses me most about this is how I am not remotely surprised. This is Typical Dail Mail.

Obscene but normal.

AFZ

The Mail article stated that “it has also been claimed” that doctors, teachers and parents are too keen to pin medical labels – such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – on “what might previously have been branded poor discipline”.

I can say a few things about this, since it’s actually part of my current job to participate in the assessment of kids with ADHD.

Yes, one has to rule out other causes of the child’s behaviour – not just poor parenting but even things like glue ear. Even so, once you’ve done that, observed them in multiple settings (not just in clinic but in school and sometimes at home as well) and tried all the behavioural approaches that you see on Supernanny and the likes, you’ll have eliminated a lot of kids but are also left with some kids who have a genuine problem with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. These kids then show a marked improvement when we do a cautious trial of methylphenidate.

My experience of ADHD is that it often has a very different look and feel to it than simply a naughty kid. It often comes in conjunction with other developmental disorders – autism, tourettes, dyslexia, dyspraxia – oh wait, but those are just “labels” too.

I don’t have much sympathy for the articles but I do feel labels stick and in the end this doesn’t help the child.
Self fulfilling prophesy and low expectations.
The problem is the silly and strange statement systems we have in this country.
LSA’s are a fantastic resource who could be used to help all students with a little more flexibility in the system.

Well of course labels stick if they’re true!

Proper diagnosis and appropriate therapeutic approaches could save a lot of kids from misery. Why do so many people want to resist, insisting on bullying and isolation as beneficial for children? Its just bloody medieval!

Peter Cole: “I don’t have much sympathy for the articles but I do feel labels stick and in the end this doesn’t help the child. Self fulfilling prophesy and low expectations.”

You might be right. But of course that’s not the point the Mail is making. The point the Mail is trying to convey is more along the lines of “your money is being wasted in spades by naive do-gooder liberal types who want to mollycoddle spoiled brats who just need a good old fashioned clip round the ear.”

They need to belittle and demonise the recipients of state services – children or otherwise – because they want their readers to support taking those services away. The paper’s owners would much rather the money was diverted to keeping taxes down for businesses and high earners.

Next thing you know they’ll be scrabbling round for ethnicity statistics on kids with special needs (and anecdotes involving Muslim parents) to attack them from the ‘your money spent on foreigners’ angle – just like they did with housing benefits.

I have ADHD, and I’m almost never not annoyed by comments about the condition. The daily mail is terrible, but even people seem a bit more nuanced like Zarathusta, his comment still really annoys me. Just because you have ADHD doesn’t mean you are badly behaved. It definitely doesn’t mean you have asperger’s or dyslexia or dyspraxia or depression. It a serious condition by itself, that carries on into adulthood and definitely doesn’t affect only children. Finally, methylphenidate is extremely safe and it should be prescribed liberally, not with catuion.

Since when did anyone need permission to quote (briefly) something someone else has said or written?

And who suddenly invented a rule to the effect that it’s only permitted to quote people who agree with the line you’re taking?

Have the Argument Police arrived, or are all these specious rules included in New Labour anti-terror laws?

The argument police; what an idea…

@Zebura

Apologies if you felt irritated by my comments. Perhaps I should clarify those.

By behaviour I didn’t mean misbehaviour or naughtiness as such, just the observed behaviours of ADHD – namely inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

I agree with you ADHD doesn’t automatically have to be co-morbid with other conditions. My point wasn’t that it always is, but that it often is. We do see kids with ADHD on its own, but we also see a lot who have it along with another condition such as aspergers or tourettes.

I also agree with you that methyphenidate is safer than it’s often given credit for (though I wouldn’t call it “extremely safe”). But my point wasn’t that it should be given cautiously always, more that it should be given cautiously at first. If a child responds well to the initial trial, then the dose can be increased.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://bit.ly/aC89YD

  2. Matt Dawson

    RT @libcon: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://bit.ly/aC89YD

  3. joe rose

    RT @libcon: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://bit.ly/aC89YD

  4. sunny hundal

    How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://t.co/5wkGMnW (by @raincoatoptimism)

  5. Richard Simcox

    RT @sunny_hundal: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://t.co/5wkGMnW (by @raincoatoptimism) #journalism

  6. Linda Spurdle

    RT @sunny_hundal: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://t.co/5wkGMnW (by @raincoatoptimism)

  7. TaughtTus

    RT @libcon: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://bit.ly/aC89YD

  8. Adam Shulman

    Interesting look at how Mail & Telegraph use experts' quotes out of context to further their agendas: http://t.co/5wkGMnW via @sunny_hundal

  9. Raincoat Optimism

    How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/3T3C8vT via @libcon

  10. jennifer roberts

    RT @sunny_hundal: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://t.co/5wkGMnW (by @raincoatoptimism)

  11. Lucy Sweetman

    RT @sunny_hundal: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://t.co/5wkGMnW (by @raincoatoptimism)

  12. Daniel Simms

    RT @libcon: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://bit.ly/aC89YD

  13. Sim-O

    The Mail? Using out of context comments? You jest, surely? /sarcasm http://bit.ly/cJCoHS

  14. Rachael

    RT @libcon: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://bit.ly/aC89YD <<In case we didn't know…

  15. P. S. Wong

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  16. thehooleys

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  17. Chris Kendall

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  18. Robin

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  19. Left Outside

    How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://t.co/MHEgXRr via @libcon Great blog post by @carlraincoat

  20. Raincoat Optimism

    RT @leftoutside: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://t.co/MHEgXRr via @libcon Great blog post by @c …

  21. Elly M

    How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/IDgfF0p via @libcon

  22. blogs of the world

    In my entry I asked: ?[a]t what point do we suppose the Daily Mail not only dislikes the … http://reduce.li/wf76vb #mail

  23. All for Aleyna

    RT @libcon: How the Mail and Telegraph undermined children with special needs http://bit.ly/aC89YD #autism #sped #special needs #SEN

  24. Often called Cathy

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