Rose Kavanagh of the Irish National Council of ADHD support groups which is based at Ballybane Enterprise Centre, believes the early diagnosis and treatment of ADHD is the key to helping sufferers maximise their potential and “reach for the stars”.
She says many young people only get “halfway there” because the condition often goes unrecognised.
She is critical of the lack of comprehensive services and trained experts to treat adult sufferers. Many people with ADHD are very intelligent but underachieve academically, have low self esteem and poor social skills, she says.
The outcome of this untreated condition can include early school leaving, dropping out of school or being expelled, she explains.
“Fighting, aggression and violence are other consequences. There is evidence that domestic violence against siblings and parents is being increasingly reported in relation to this group of undiagnosed and untreated young people. Other outcomes include joyriding, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy and attempted suicide.”
Schools must understand that children learn in different ways, she says. “Children with ADHD tend to be intuitive and need a practical approach to learning rather than a highly theoretical approach. A non-judgmental approach is essential. There is frequent failure of teachers, parents, employers and professionals to see the invisible disability that the ADHD person must work around.”
Rose says since the Irish National Council of ADHD support groups opened its office in Galway in May it has been contacted by a growing number of young men.
“They come in off the street to us, are under 35 years and realise they have it [ADHD] but have not been diagnosed. They come in terribly frustrated. Often they can’t sustain a job, are misunderstood by their families and dubbed slow and lazy. Some have gone through the education system but barely passed the Leaving Cert. They know something isn’t right themselves, they know they are intelligent but can’t get focused. Doctors failed to think this [ADHD] was their problem.”
She says it is very difficult to find a professional to diagnose adults with the condition. However, her organisation has access to a doctor in Gorey, Co Wexford who diagnoses adults.
* The Irish National Council of ADHD support groups is based at Unit 17 A Enterprise Centre, Ballybane and is open from 10.30am to 3.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Telephone (091 ) 755090. E-mail [email protected] or to access its website log onto www.incadds.ie