Is it true that ADHD is not considered a disability as far as The Equality Act 2010 is concerned?

This question relates to a case we were told about recently: my 8 year old son was recently given a fixed term exclusion for ‘non-complaint behaviour’, the worst of which seems to have been using the calming fiddle toy we had given him during lessons. He does not have an EHCp but we are looking at that. He has been diagnosed with ADHD but we believe he also has a number of difficulties outside the ADHD diagnostic criteria.  We believe this exclusion amounts to disability discrimination. Our first response was to complain to the Academy and eventually a meeting was held which was chaired by the Chair of Governors who claims to have decades of SEND experience. At the start of the meeting, she questioned the legitimacy of our concerns as, as far as she was aware, ADHD was now not considered a disability as far as The Equality Act 2010 is concerned as this is what she had read in a local newspaper.


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05 Jun 2023

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  • 05 Jun 2023
  • No


    100% NOT right. 

    The Chair of Governors is unquestionably wrong. It is certainly the case that ADHD is not like some progressive conditions which are automatically considered to satisfy the definition of disability in s6 The Equality Act 2010

    01.03 Does a child need a “medical” diagnosis of a condition or disorder to satisfy the definition of disability in the Equality Act 2010?

    Having said that, no automatic bar exists to the impairments associated with ADHD being considered a disability for the purposes of The Equality Act 2010 (a statutory disability).

    01.02 Is there a “test” to prove that my child has a disability?

    There was a Scottish case back in 2016, JC v Gordonstoun Schools Limited [2016] CSIH 32 where a female pupil diagnosed with ADHD was said not to have a statutory disability. Whilst this decision was made in a court of record, it is fact specific, and it most certainly does not disapply ADHD from becoming a statutory disability. 

    The FTT is the jurisdiction which deals with disability discrimination in schools. 

    12.01 Can I do anything if my child has been the subject of disability discrimination in school?

    Sean Kennedy

    Sean Kennedy
    Talem Law