ADHD Support For Families In Suffolk
October is ADHD awareness month and we spoke to Annie Clements, CEO of Autism & ADHD, an organization that provides support to families in Suffolk.
How would you describe your organization?
Autism and ADHD is a social enterprise based in Suffolk. We provide information and activities for all those working and living with Autism and ADHD. We answer questions, work with families to help identify what their main challenges are and provide a strategy to deal with these issues. We work with all age groups and don’t require a diagnosis to start working with a family.
Hurdles or developmental issues that all parents go through can feel 10 times harder for a parent of a child with ADHD and they might just need someone to talk through it with, to listen and reassure them. We also refer parents to alternative organizations if we feel they will be able to provide specialised support.
What are the most common red flags?
Not being able to engage at all, for instance not being able to watch a tv program
Not being able to sit still during meal time
Being constantly on the go
Finding it difficult to perhaps process certain language or listen to instructions
Able to do single tasks, and prefer to do one thing at a time
Difficulty sleeping at night, their bodies just don't stop long enough for them to fall easily asleep
Hyper-emotional over certain situations
Difficulty processing emotions
If you look at it on a piece of paper, people might be drawn to think “well, loads of children do that”, but a child with ADHD is full on 100% of the time and it never stops. There are no calm down periods.
At what age can a diagnosis be confirmed?
With little children it is quite difficult as they are all quite lively. Accurate diagnosis will be from around age 8 or 9, purely to make sure he/she is not just a very lively child.
What do I need to do if I think my child has it?
If you suspect your child has ADHD you can speak to their teacher to see if they have any concerns about your child’s behaviour, and you can also speak to the school nurse. If you are seeking a formal assessment you need to go through the medical route. Tell your GP of your concerns and they will refer you to a parenting program to teach you ways to help your child. If your child’s behaviour doesn't improve, collect all the evidence to present it to your GP so that your child can be given a full assessment.
How can I help my child at home?
Don’t try and “cure it”, work with it instead
Lifestyle and the way these families live is very important. If you are trying to “cure” it you will always be banging your head against the wall. We have to learn to work “with”it and calm the symptoms down as much as we can.
ADHD children are constantly on the go, physical activities can help them calm down. For instance, before going to school, find an activity they can do, such as 10 minutes of jumping on the trampoline, or stop at the park on the way home and kick a football for a few minutes. All of these things can make a big difference to calm kids down.
Provide them with an appropriate diet
Children with ADHD need regular small portions of food throughout the day; six small meals a day is recommended to keep their bodies fuelled, which helps to calm things down. The food that they eat should be a diet full of proteins and carbohydrates. For instance, a cheese and toast breakfast or a ham sandwich on the way to school can help. Literally as soon as they come out of school, give them something to eat and always make sure they get loads of fluids in them.
These children are like “hamsters in a wheel”, they are burning calories constantly. They will have their school lunch at 12 and not eat anything until 3.15 when they come out of school - that is a really long time not to have eaten anything. Food and drink is very important and sometimes the only thing that can calm things down when they come out of school. We must remember that they have been in an environment where they need to concentrate and stay still for a long period of time, which our children find so hard. It's not that they don't want to do it, they genuinely aren't able to do it the same way the other children do.
Can they apply for Activities Unlimited, Family Fund or Disability Living Allowance?
Yes. Just as for any child with any other diagnosis, this will be looked at on an individual basis. However, there is no guarantee that they will get the funding, as they will look at the level of impact that it has on the child and the family on a day-to- day basis.
Parents can get help filling in the form for disability allowance from the Citizens Advice Bureau, the school nurse, the internet or they can book a session with us.
How can I contact Autism and ADHD
- Parents can either telephone us on 01473 557550, e-mail us, contact us through Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter anytime 24/7 and a member of staff will get back as soon as possible (this is a FREE service).
- Visit us at: 44 Felaw Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP2 8SJ
- For families whose income is more than £16 000/year we charge £35.00 per session (1 hour) in Ipswich. If travelling is required we charge by the mileage. If the family income is below £16 000/year there is a good chance we will be able to offer them 4 FREE support sessions.
- We also organise activities, events and training sessions. For more information, please take a look at our website.
SENDIASS- For support in education. Call their helpline on 01473 265210 during office hours Monday to Friday. Leave a message and they'll get back to you.