Leyland ADHD Conference

Last month ADDISS, the national ADHD charity, held a series of regional conferences and a member of the SPACE team went along. Those of you that follow us on Twitter will have noticed that we took over your timeline for a couple of days by live tweeting as much as we could fit into 140 characters at a time.

A lot of the conference focused on adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In the United Kingdom there is estimated to be between 2  and 3.3 million adults with the condition. Here at SPACE we focus on providing support to parents of children and do very little relating to adults, but since being a parent is an ongoing thing, understanding how adults are affected is obviously of interest.

Children with ADHD mature into adults with ADHD. The presentation of symptoms may be different but, despite what you may have been told, children do not grow out of it. It doesn’t magically disappear on their 18th birthday. If you have a ten year old with ADHD then you’re going to have a 20 year old with ADHD and eventually a forty year old with ADHD, so with this in mind understanding adults with the condition is pretty vital.

The theme of the conference was early Interventions and Outcomes. It focused on the importance of getting things right for children with ADHD, to help them grow into happy healthy adults with productive lives, because statistically our children are less likely to get there without that extra help and support. The conference showed the best things about ADHD but also balanced it out by highlighting the very worst things.

One of the speakers Phil Anderton PhD, Author of The Tipping Points, is a former police officer who provided some very sobering statistics including

  • Children with ADHD are 14 times more likely to be run over crossing the road
  • The risk of being arrested for most young adults is 20% for young adults with ADHD this doubles to 40%
  • 25% of the 80,000 prison population have ADHD as opposed to a conservative estimate of 5% of the general population

Although ADHD is generally considered a behavioural problem, the negative behaviours exist for a physiological reason and one of the many differences between children with and without ADHD is their emotional maturity. Although one child may be 6 months older chronologically, their brain may actually be less mature than a child who is considerably younger than they are. Physically your son or daughter may be 17 years of age but it’s possible that emotionally they are only 14 and emotional maturity matters.

“Some people have a built in need for exploratory behaviour and risk taking” Kevin Roberts

A need for friends, low self esteem, a built in predisposition towards risk taking behaviour and low emotional maturity can be a disaster for some young people. It can make them very vulnerable and lead to a variety of different problems including issues at school, dangerous activities and inappropriate sexual activity.

If the treatment of ADHD in a young person isn’t right then the likelihood of their involvement in crime is much higher and for those of us with older children, dealing with the police can become a part of day to day parenting. Realistically a lot of parents need to have a plan of exactly what to do if your child is arrested and needs you to attend the police station.

During the conference we had the opportunity to see a role play with a serving police officer and a gentleman called Gary, an adult with ADHD. During the session Gary provided the audience with additional comments based on instances from his own past and gave examples of how he would have tried to speed up proceedings by not mentioning that he had a condition or refusing to answer any questions in his own defence, so that he could get out of the police station quicker. None of it was real, but it gave us a tiny glimpse of exactly what could happen if our sons or daughters are arrested, particularly if they are over 18.

It is both sobering and frightening to think that your lively young child may have a higher risk of substance abuse, assault, unplanned pregnancy and being arrested than their counterparts, but unfortunately children with ADHD are at greater risk and this is why the information in this conference was so important.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is an 80% inheritable factor, so not only do we want to understand adult ADHD as a parent, but also because it’s fairly obvious that some of us have it too. We may not all have been formally diagnosed and we may not present in the same ways as our children, but there are lots of parents out there who recognise themselves and their own childhoods in the literature they read on their journey through their child’s diagnosis.

Scary statistics aside, most of the conference was very upbeat and highlighted the very positive side of attention deficit, including some magnificient high energy speakers. If you ever get the opportunity to hear Kevin Roberts and Jerry Mills speak about ADHD then you should definitely jump at the chance. The team of speakers are chosen because they are experts in their field and use their unique skills and personal experiences to bring the subject to life. Most of the speakers are published authors who have chosen to support ADDISS as a way of sharing information with parents, professionals and adults with ADHD. The conference line up also included an ADHD Coach working with young adults who discussed the difference between empowering others and enabling them and author Marko Ferek who urged us all to replace the word disorder with difference. The word disorder can only ever be considered a bad thing and not everything about ADHD is bad. Some of it is amazing and exciting, even being a risk taker isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s only bad if you can’t control it.

Although having ADHD can limit a child’s potential, the theme of the conference was that if we get things right during childhood that it doesn’t have to. If we get things right at school, education doesn’t have to suffer. If we understand about emotional maturity, we can make decisions based on the child and not a child of their age. If we can bolster self esteem and manage risk taking, we can reduce the negative effects of dangerous and impulsive behaviours. The conference encouraged us all to change our thoughts and feelings about ADHD. Together we can help children with ADHD find positive ways to use their power, intensity and genetic predisposition and means that next generation of adults with ADHD won’t have such a difficult journey.

 

 

 

 

ADHD Conferences

What is an ADHD Conference and why should you consider attending one?

The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service (ADDISS) arrange regional and national conferences about ADHD to share information, dispel myths and offer practical advice for adults and those parenting or working with people who have ADHD. The ADDISS conferences are there to not only provide information for attendees, but also to provide inspiration and help to remind people of the positives of ADHD.

In June 2015 ADDISS are holding three conferences entitled ADHD – Early Interventions and Outcomes. The first of these conferences will be held in Leyland, Lancashire on the 22nd and 23rd of June.

On the face of it arranging a sit down conference where a large percentage of the audience may find it difficult to sit in one place and pay attention, might not seem like the best idea, but the knowledge and acceptance that people with ADHD have these challenges, is one of the many positive things about them.

Conferences are an opportunity to get more information about the condition and help you understand what is going on ‘under the bonnet’. As a parent would you keep comparing your child to others their chronological age if you knew that their brain developed at a different rate? As a teacher would you still punish a child for doodling if you knew that this was the best way for them to keep their fidgeting under control in the classroom?  Conferences are not about letting children with ADHD get away with things and it is not about allowing them to make their own rules at home. It is about understanding them and using that knowledge to make reasonable adjustments for the things that are beyond their control. For parents and teachers sometimes it is about picking your battles and for children it is about learning to manage themselves.

The ADDISS regional conferences are the perfect opportunity to get accurate information from a line up of experts and professional speakers rather than the uneducated opinions and myths we so often hear. So whether you are an adult with ADHD, a parent of a child with ADHD or a professional, working with others who have ADHD, the regional conferences are an excellent opportunity to get the right information.

Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines conference as a meeting of two or more persons for discussing matters of common concern” and the common concern in this matter is that early intervention is needed to protect our young people.

Intervention is a key part of managing children with ADHD and it is vital that parents and teaching staff are able to support our children and help them build the resilience they need to grow and thrive, but it can be difficult to find the right strategies to use. No child comes complete with a manual, but confidence and common sense can give you a head start, however when you are faced with a child who responds differently, it can be difficult to make the right decisions. For parents the tried and tested techniques that work so well at home with your other children, might be a waste of time with your ADHD child. For a teacher who has to balance the needs of thirty children at a time, having one child that absorbs all the attention and seems to disobey the rules must be a daily challenge and not necessarily the sort that you signed up for.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

Most adults remember their school days and almost all of us have fond memories of a favourite teacher. Those teachers are not necessarily the ones who taught us the most, but are instead often the ones who we felt understood us.

Anecdotal tales of children with ADHD missing playtimes for not sitting still on the carpet, ongoing chastisements for interrupting and being excluded from activities because of their behaviour are still very common place. Children are notoriously undiplomatic when it comes to dealing with each other and generally have no qualms about excluding people from their social groups. Problems at school can quickly become a problem at home and vice versa.

Childhood is a very short period of time and what happens in those few years goes on to make a huge difference in not only the life of that one child, but also the lives of those around them and the next generation of children born into their families. The UK prison population features a disproportionate amount of people with ADHD and past studies have shown teenagers with ADHD featuring higher than average in figures on substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and attempted suicide. (1998, Lilly & Barkley) Early intervention is the best way to reduce the amount of negative outcomes for children with ADHD.

Parenting doesn’t end just because your children grow up. Early interventions, which improve the quality of life for parents and carers, can be the difference between enjoying the parenting journey and barely surviving. Common misconceptions and stigma don’t make that journey any easier. There is a lot of misinformation about ADHD which can be confusing for parents, particularly those with a new diagnosis, conferences are an excellent place to get the right information, speak to other parents and find out what support is available. There will always be those who think they know about the condition and having the right information gives us ammunition we can use when we have to go into battle defending our children and fighting for their right to be themselves.

June 2015 Conference Details

Leyland Conference Monday 22nd June & Tuesday 23rd June 2015

Truro Conference Thursday 25th June 2015

Canterbury Conference Saturday 27th June 2015