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Shire Canada offers financial and day-to-day assistance to students diagnosed with attention deficit disorders

Jesse Mellott | Fulcrum Staff

Students with ADD/ADHD will now have the chance to receive financial assistance as well as time-management mentoring while attending post-secondary institutions.

Shire Canada, a biopharmaceutical company that focuses particularly on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is creating a scholarship program for Canadian adults who suffer from the disorder. The scholarship will be introduced in September 2013 and will include financial support for tuition as well as one year of ADHD coaching.

According to Heidi Bernhardt, former executive director of the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance, the ADHD Scholarship Program will help provide critical help to those who have the disorder.

“I think our biggest challenge with ADHD in the post-secondary [community] is that there is still a lot of stigma [when it comes to] understanding this disorder,” Bernhardt said.

She explained that when people living with ADHD get to the post-secondary level, the executive functioning impairment that is a part of the disorder hits them in a big way and makes things like planning, organizational skills, and time management difficult. Some also have to deal with the fact that they’re away from their support system—usually family.

Sarah Patterson, coordinator for the academic support unit at the University of Ottawa’s Access Service, agrees with Bernhardt’s characterization of ADHD and sees the benefits of the proposed scholarship.

“It seems to be a unique structure for a scholarship in that it is allotting money towards offsetting the cost of tuition—which is pretty typical for a scholarship. But they have also specified that it’s for coaching as well, and academic coaching is something that a lot of students can benefit from, specifically students with an attention deficit [disorder],” Patterson said.

In order to be considered for the scholarship, students must be diagnosed by a physician and must be seeking treatment for the disorder. The coaching provided with the scholarship will provide students with a skill set to help them succeed in post-secondary and beyond.

Bernhardt feels these conditions  are the most important parts of the program, as symptoms in adults are less obvious than in children.

“They don’t grow out of it in most cases; the symptoms just portray differently, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not as impaired with their ADHD in adulthood,” she said.

The ADHD Scholarship Program will be made available to students in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, with spots for five scholarship winners. A minimum of one student per province will be selected. Students can apply until March 27, and winners will be announced June 17.