Highlighted last week in The Times, hyperactive children are able to skip queues at major theme parks in and around the UK.
Though it may come as welcome relief for parents whose children suffer from attention-deficit disorders, teachers have hit out at the move, saying that it undermines their efforts to teach children how to be patient.
The question is: are teachers right to criticise the scheme?
A difficult one, isn’t it?
Not for Andrea Bilbow, it isn’t. The chief executive of the National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service (ADDISS for short) has clearly made up her mind on the issue. She reacted rather glibly to the teachers’ growing concern by telling The Times: “I know many primary schools let children with ADHD go ahead at dinner time and it stops scenes, what’s the problem?” She even hinted that “criticism of the tactic showed that teachers were ignorant of the condition”.
Bilbow explains: “Children with ADHD are very impulsive and just can’t cope in a queue or when there is a delay in gratification”.
Fair enough, I suppose; I mean, when you put it like that. But then, shouldn’t kids with ADHD learn to deal with having to wait for things? When will they learn otherwise? You can’t be 36 and just barge in at the front of the queue in Homebase – someone will tip a load of compost down the back of your jumper or something.
Now, I wouldn’t even pretend to know the complex ins and outs of dealing with a condition like ADHD, but just the teensiest bit Googling will throw up all sorts of criticisms over the stance taken by Ms Bilbow. It’s a contentious, if not rather grisly topic.
The Disability Discrimination Act currently puts the onus on the attractions to accommodate all visitors. Theme parks around the EU are somewhat forced, therefore, to follow government orders.
Thorpe Park are being very diplomatic about the whole affair. A spokesperson for the Surrey-based theme park told The Times: “Any guest that can provide a letter from their doctor that describes their illness or disability and states that they cannot stand in a queue is provided with a priority wristband.”
That, I suppose, is the fairest way to broach the subject for the time being. But what about the future? Should kids with attention-deficit disorder be allowed to skip in front of everyone else just because they can’t be patient? I mean, how many six-year-olds do you know that have the patience of a saint? My mum and dad had to stop buying me advent calendars when I was about eight because I used to scoff all 24 chocolates by noon on December 3. Of course, the counter argument is just as telling: should ADHD kids be forced to wait around in line, regardless of how much torrid distress they’re put through?
It’s a tough call, certainly. We’d love to hear what you think though.