Why We Don’t Want To Be Kim Kardashian

What does the world famous reality star Kim Kardashian have to do with a small Stockport based ADHD childrens’ charity? The answer to that is very little (as far as we know) other than the fact that we are both harnessing the power of social media to let people know that we exist.

Just like Kim, SPACE Stockport are on Twitter but if you happen to follow us both, you’ll notice that she has a lot more followers than us and we’re totally OK with that. We are 100% fine with the fact that Kim has over 42 million Twitter followers whilst we only have 500, because Kim’s marketing goals are different to ours.

SPACE Stockport is run by parents of children with ADHD for parents of children with ADHD and as such we won’t be getting any celebrity endorsement deals. We don’t have our own cosmetic products, skincare range or clothing line. We don’t even have our own fragrance, but despite the lack of branded products we are on a mission. We’re on a mission to make sure that Stockport parents of children with ADHD know that we’re here. We are looking for what marketing professionals would call a niche market. If you live in Stockport and have a child with ADHD, then we are looking for you because we want you to know that we exist.

Our marketing goals are quite straight forward. We’re a non-profit organisation so the number of people that attend our monthly meetings and engage with us on social media doesn’t generate us any income. The committee is made up of volunteers, so nobody gets a new BMW if more people join us for a coffee and getting a 100,000 likes on Facebook or a million followers on Twitter won’t get any of us a bonus, but we’re still on a mission. If you are from Stockport and your child, or a child that you care for, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder then we want you to know that we exist, that’s it. That’s our mission.

Parents of children with ADHD are regularly told what they should be doing. We’re told that we are parenting our children incorrectly. We’re told that our children will grow out of it. We’re told that our children are eating the wrong foods. We’re told that our children just need a firm hand. We’re told that ADHD doesn’t exist and that our children are just badly behaved. Parents of children with ADHD are told lots of things. We’re not here to tell you anything. We’re here to provide information. We’re here to share our experiences. We’re here to signpost agencies that we have found useful. We’re here to make sure that you know you are not the only family going through some of the day to day challenges that you face. Even if local parents of children with ADHD never contact us, our marketing mission is that they know we exist, because if they know that we are here, then they know that they can get in touch if they want to.

Using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about our existence may be relatively new, but we’ve been on a mission to support other parents for over a decade. The venue has changed over time as have the volunteers and the parents joining us every month, but the mission has always been the same, to make sure that people know that we exist. Stockport has less than 300,000 residents so if we manage to get a million followers then the chances are that most of them aren’t really interested in us and vice versa. We love having our Facebook posts shared and being retweeted on Twitter because somewhere amongst those extra readers will be more of the people we’re looking for.

If local parents know that we exist, then that means that they know they’re not the only parents going through the challenge of raising a child with ADHD. It means that if they have a bad day, they know that they can vent to us privately on Facebook. It means that they know that we have a library of books about ADHD that they can borrow free of charge. It means that they know that there is a network of other parents they can talk to. It means that they can find out about local conferences. It means that we can provide a source of information. It means that they are able to attend our specialist presentations. It means that once a month they can join us for a coffee and a chat if they want to.

The bigger picture is that we want to fight the ongoing stream of ignorance about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. We want to dispel the myths and ensure that our children are not penalised by schools for things that they cannot control, but our priority is to support families. If you have a child with challenging behaviour, the playground can be a lonely place. We can’t do anything about that, but when you’ve had one of those days we can be there to reassure you that you are not alone. We can’t do anything about the fact that raising a child with ADHD can lead to family disagreements on the best way forward, but we can be there to let you know that you are not the only family with those problems.

The reason our mission is to let people know that we exist is because if local parents know that we exist, then it means that they know that we’re here if they want us. It means that they know that they are not the only one and some days that’s enough. SPACE Stockport may officially only be four people on paper but we’re part of a much bigger community. A community of other parents who want the best for their children. Kim can keep her 42 million followers because we’ve got each other.








Festive Reflections

As 2015 drew to a close and we were fast approaching the school holidays, we started drafting a blog post to wish all our ADHD parents a merry and hopefully stressfree Christmas.

That time of year can be eventful, in all the wrong ways, for children with ADHD. The change in routine, the school parties and pantomime trips, mixed with the general excitement about Father Christmas, can sometimes be a little bit too much for them and as parents we generally get the receiving end of all that.

Christmas plays are a time for fellow parents to give you “that look” if your child fidgets through the carol service. The thing to remember is that they don’t know how hard it is for your child to sit still and if they knew, what we know, they wouldn’t be so judgemental.

The start of the new year and new school term can be a double edged sword. For some families the return to school is a great thing because it means that the usual routine is back,  you no longer have to provide full time referee services for your children and at the very least, our energetic bundles are out of the house.

For other families returning to school means restarting all the playground drama. It can mean that our children are now spending five days a week with the children who bully them (whilst mysteriously, rarely getting into any trouble for it.) It can mean that our children are spending their days with adults who don’t understand them and refuse to make allowances for their active minds and bodies. For some families, having our children at home means that we can control their environment and be in a position to spot the signs early and head off outbursts before they happen. For those families, the last day of the school holidays is almost a sad time because in 24 hours it all changes.

The S.P.A.C.E. group focuses on children in education because regardless of how things are at home, school is a totally different place and as parents we are always affected by what happens there, including the things we have no control over.

So here’s to all the parents whose children go to a school of over a thousand pupils and yet somehow every single member of staff seems to know yours by name. Here’s to all the parents that blushed their way through Christmas plays and carol services. Here’s to all the parents who battled their way through festive family visits and here’s to all the parents who are now back in the swing of a new term and are already looking forward to, or absolutely dreading half-term.

The S.P.A.C.E. meeting dates for 2016 are already on our website and we look forward to seeing some of you at Funky Monkey Coffee Company. Our next meeting is on Wednesday 10th February 2016 at 7.00 pm.

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.