SUPPORT GROUP BLOG
Next month the Support Group will have been running for 5 years. The same volunteers have kept it going since the beginning and very much enjoyed meeting all the wonderful people who have come along to share and learn together. Now we are at the point of needing other volunteers to offer an occasional evening to welcome our attendees, be a listening ear and a general help. If you think this could be you, please get in touch! 01865 731378 0r email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Support Group this half year has been very much an open drop-in where we discuss any and every topic that arises for those who come along. There is no core group, no pre-planned specific focus for the evening, so the discussion and conversation, the exchange of knowledge and information, is always valuable, relevant, and able to meet the needs and interests of those present. A selection of books and handouts are also available.
We have welcomed a number of new people at our first two meetings and have also been busy working with individuals as we are available for personal discussions as well as group ones. However, many people do find the support, suggestions, information and understanding they have been looking for when they meet others with experiences they relate to or which give ideas for changes they can try. We see generous sharing of stories at the group and the difference it can make to feel at home in the company of others instead of feeling alone.
SEPTEMBER: Who do you tell and what do you say?
Once we have the diagnosis and are trying to work out what it means in our particular case, this question often arises. Should I tell people at work? How should I tell them? Will it help me or cause me problems? We shared our thoughts around this topic and our different experiences. One thing we have in common is that just saying I/he/she/ has ADHD or ADD is not very helpful in many cases. People have different ideas of just what the term means and it doesn't necessarily help them to understand our specific siyuation. Better to plan and practise a short description of what the particular needs/ advantages/ differences are, and use that instead, with or without mentioning ADHD.
JULY: When it's ADHD plus something else
Many other conditions overlap with ADHD and it also spans the intellectual and personality spectrum.
Increasing numbers of children and young people seem to be getting a diagnosis of Aspergers as well as ADHD. It varies which diagnosis comes first. With medication the ADHD behaviours can be modified and that's when for some parents the autistic characteristics become more obvious. For others, the Aspergers diagnosis leads to a realisation that what looked like ADHD in the beginning was in fact a child on the autistic spectrum, however mild, who was not having their needs met.
For adults with ADHD, not having their
needs met has frequently led to depression, anxiety or anger. Treatment
for these can help but will never be the whole answer until the ADHD is
The bookMisdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults by James T Webb and others describes many diagnoses and also the characteristics of gifted children.
JUNE: Diagnosis - before and after
What difference did it make to you, getting the diagnosis of ADHD, either for yourself or your child?
The main feeling mentioned, when this question was asked, was 'Relief'. Relief that someone recognised that there actually was a problem or a difference. Reassurance that it was not the fault of the parents, or something that an ADHD adult should be able to improve just by their own willpower.
The main help that the diagnosis brought was medication, according to the majority of the group I spoke to. "He's a different child". We can do things with her now that we couldn't have done before."
'I don't notice the difference in myself but other people do.'' "It helps me to focus and get things done."
For those who did not choose medication, and for those taking it, the increased understanding brought by the diagnosis is beneficial both for themselves and family members,
However there is a wide range of attitudes and understanding shown by other people, and scepticism can be hard to deal with. This is where the Support Group meets a need. A safe and friendly space to be yourself, amongst people who understand and accept each other. We have many comments about this and so we continue to open the doors at 7pm twice a month, a simple way to provide a special time and place for all those who see themselves as having ADHD whether they have a formal diagnosis or not.
APRIL: Neurofeedback treatments
Neurofeedback is becoming increasingly advertised for ADHD. We had a visit from Dr Marko Espinoza from a Neurofeedback centre in Buckinghamshire. We discovered that this is a very gentle treatment provided in half hour sessions, and is thought to improve brain functioning, and to relieve anxiety, stress and depression, as well ADHD and sleeping difficulties. Marko Espinoza's clinic website is There are various sorts of neurofeedback and at Alison Thompson's ADHD Inspiration Day coming up in June there will be a demonstration by Stuart Black of BrainTrain UK. See
March 31st: How to get more done and be more organised!
One of our regulars John shared some strategies that work for him. He started with some clips from a YouTube presentation by the excellent Russell Barkley who used the words "time blind" to explain the daily struggles some people have with ADHD. He brought along some things which he has found to help him be more productive. For example, he has an echo smart pen (expensive but great for notetaking – Google it) and he uses a coloured card system to help him prioritise the three most important things he needs to get done. As well as getting some great tips, John's ideas got everyone talking about things that they use for self organisation and to help them focus on getting things done. Thank you, John.
March 12th: Experiences of education
Our discussions ranged through a number of topics as usual but one focus was on experiences of school. Some members had multiple problems in school and had been excluded. Others were having difficulties now with their children's schooling. Where school is not a happy and successful experience for the pupil - or indeed for their teachers - what is the answer? According to members attending this group meeting, where pupils have been accepted into a special school there has been a real turnaround and progress. There is a great lack of understanding about ADHD in most schools and teachers expectations are that the child should try harder when in fact they simply need a more ADHD friendly curriculum.
My personal experience was that life was much better once I took my own child out of school completely but this should not have been necessary.
Don't expect the teacher to understand your ADHD child and don't blame her/him. Instead, do your best to patiently educate them in what help your child (of whatever age) needs. If you would like help with this do contact us.
February 24th: marking 3 years of the support group
Topic: Food Tips for ADD / ADHD
We did have a chocolate birthday cake to celebrate but were also inspired by Peter Svensson to think a bit more about what we eat and maybe make some little changes. Food doesn't cause ADHD but can affect our moods and energy.
Peter highlighted not just changes that are good
for us, but ways to incorporate these changes painlessly into our
routine (if we've got one!)
You could also contact Peter if you would like him to bring this recommended presentation to your group.
February 12th: What happens at the group?
If you haven't been along to the Support Group, you might wonder what goes on.
It is friendly and relaxed, informative and supportive, with a constant supply of drinks and snacks.
We never know who will walk through the door, as all are welcome without booking,
Amazingly, at the January Tuesday group, all the attendees were men, and all with ADHD. This resulted in a great shared discussion ( see January entry).
More often we have a mixture of adults with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD, and although we originally expected to organise these into two separate groups, we found to our surprise that very often they prefer to stay in the same group and learn from each other.
There is also always the opportunity to speak privately to other members of the group or to Mary or Alison, the ADHD coaches.