ADHA – We kinda get it
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can feature behavioural traits such as inattentiveness, impulsivity and hyperactivity. It can be referred to as ADD, as people with ADD have all the characteristics of ADHD except for hyperactivity.
Those with this learning difference bring a unique energy, new approaches and ways of working to the work environment.
Simone Biles, Justin Timberlake, Greta Thunberg, Steve Jobs, Will.I.Am and my daughter Scarlett-Niamh, a real collective mix of people but all have something in common, they all have had a diagnosis of either autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But more importantly, they have never allowed their diagnosis to define who they are and what they have achieved.
Scarlett-Niamh, who is coming up to 11, has actually been diagnosed with both ADHD and autism. It took so long to get the diagnosis which then allowed the Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) to be put in place to provide the right support at school. During this time, it was a constant worry as you feel your child will be lost to a system and just stigmatised, especially as a lot of people always thought ADHD was just an excuse for naughty children.
My one advice to all parents is that you know your child better than anyone. We noticed certain behaviours of Scarlett-Niamh early on but were told there was nothing anyone could do or she’s not autistic. It wasn’t that we wanted to label her but to ensure she got the right support. The doctors who saw Scarlett-Niamh saw the confident little girl who could light up the room with her cheekiness and her personality but ignored the voices of those closest to her.
We were very lucky, as we knew the “system”, but also with the schools Scarlett-Niamh has gone to as the Special Educational Need (SEN) Co-ordinator have been brilliant and built such a strong relationship with her, as has all the teachers to be fair, especially when Scarlett-Niamh has struggled with her emotions and relationships with other children. She’s a little girl who makes friends quickly but struggles to maintain them. With heightened emotions, it makes it very hard for her, especially if she feels wronged.
As we enter the final term of primary school, it is obvious Scarlett-Niamh is nervous about the transition and we’ve seen the change in her behaviour over the last few weeks. This, combined with her growing up, means I’m sure to lose my hair through stress!
The hardest part of this amazing journey was when we moved home a couple of years ago. A time which should have been special and memorable but due to having to put down one of our cats that same weekend, is memorable for the wrong reason. This hit her hard as the change of moving and losing the cat really unsettled her both at home and at school. This resulted in a significant period of time being spent at the school and appointments with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS).
Through the diagnoses of Scarlett-Niamh it has taught me how lucky I have been with the people I have worked with as the support has always been there, especially during that period of time I mention above, which was very challenging!
What it has also taught me, is if I was to grow up in this time I would be classified as either autistic or diagnosed with ADHD (I said this to my mum the other week and she didn’t even let me finish before she said yes) and I like to think I’ve turned out ok. So I know the little girl who lights up the room when she walks in, likes to go to performing arts school, loves gymnastics, records herself on TikTok singing, making her bedroom a mess through crafts or make up, and lastly knows the ins and out of an iPad, will be ok. She doesn’t allow it to define her, so why should I and why should we in the workplace allow anyone who is neurodiverse be defined by their diagnoses?