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Explore the topic of ADHD

What is ADHD?

ADHD, or, Attention Deficit Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects children, adolescents, and adults. 

ADHD in children and young people

ADHD can make it difficult for people to concentrate, sustain attention, sit still, follow directions and control impulsive behaviour. These symptoms can make it difficult for children and young people to complete tasks in age-appropriate ways, which can make classroom-based learning challenging at times.

Many parents and carers of children who are showing early signs and symptoms of ADHD often wonder what are the causes, how it can be diagnosed at an early age, and what sort of help is available.

If you suspect your child has ADHD or if they have received a diagnosis, there is a wide variety of help and support available. This page will guide you through a range of information for supporting your child’s ADHD needs. We provide answers to common ADHD FAQs and share additional internal and external ADHD resources available to you.

How we support children and young people with ADHD

Our therapeutic support is embedded throughout all of the work we do with children and young people, to enable them to overcome their ADHD challenges and reach their full potential.

Our Clinical Services Team is based within each of our schools, enabling the children to access support, necessary assessments, and tailored programmes which are then integrated into their daily activities. Our team members are well-known to children and continuously work to establish and develop their trust.

We love to celebrate the successes and achievements of children and young people in our schools. Below we share some of the stories that best represent how staff across our Group positively impact lives.

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Cedar House School

Andrew’s Story

Andrew reluctantly arrived at Cedar House School as a residential pupil diagnosed with ADHD and Autism. The frustrated young boy who worked in isolation clearly had social communication difficulties and had a history of displaying inappropriate behaviour towards those around him. The local primary school he attended reported that he was increasingly controlling, only attending school on his own terms and when things didn’t go his way he would abscond. As a result of his behaviour, he was excluded from school, making it even more difficult for him to make friends and access education.

Read more east
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Hall Cliffe Primary School

Dominic's Story

Labelled as the ‘naughty’ child, Dominic’s previous experience of education was limited to being taught on a one to one basis outside the classroom with very little contact with peers. His high levels of anxiety resulted in him being sent home and excluded as he was unable to articulate his thoughts and feelings. Dominic was diagnosed with ADHD, Global Development Delay and linked to this, had significant Speech, Language and Communication difficulties.

Read more east

Frequently asked questions about ADHD

We've researched and collated a list of frequently asked questions about ADHD below. Alternatively, head to our ADHD resource library to expand your knowledge. 

The traits of ADHD can be divided into two groups: Inattentive behaviours and hyperactive and impulsive behaviours.

Inattentive traits can include:

  • Being very distractible
  • Having difficulty remembering
  • Poor organisation

Hyperactive and impulsive traits can include:

  • Impatience
  • Excessive movement
  • Talking and interrupting
  • Difficulties turn-taking

Supporting resources

How do I Recognise ADHD?
How you can Recognise ADHD Through Behaviour?
Advice & Guidance on Assessment, Diagnosis and Support for your Child's ADHD

Yes. Brain imaging studies have shown that people with ADHD have structurally different brains than people without ADHD. It also can be genetic, children whose parents have ADHD up to a 60% chance of also having ADHD.

A child can be diagnosed with ADHD by a medical professional if they present with multiple traits of the condition across different settings. There are three core characteristics on the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, which are inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, and a child with the condition may present with the following:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Constantly changing from one activity to another
  • Appearing to find it difficult to listen to or carry out instructions
  • Making seemingly careless mistakes and finding it difficult to learn from them
  • Appearing forgetful or losing things
  • Having difficulty organising tasks and time
  • Being unable to stick to tasks that are boring or time-consuming
  • Finding it difficult to sit still
  • Excessive talking
  • Finding it difficult to wait their turn in conversations or activities
  • Seeming to act without thinking
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Fidgeting

Of course, all children will have difficulties in some of these areas, but for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, these characteristics would significantly impact upon their daily functioning.

If you think that your child may have ADHD, speak to their GP and/or school about your concerns.

For children, a Paediatrician will be the professional who undertakes the assessment and gives the formal diagnosis. You can be referred to a Paediatrician either via the school SENOC or in some areas by going to visit the GP.

Supporting resources 
Advice & Guidance on Assessment, Diagnosis and Support for your Child's ADHD

Yes. Children and young people who are inattentive but not particularly restless or impulsive may have what is called 'Inattentive type ADHD'. They tend to be diagnosed later because they are missed due to the absence of hyperactivity. However, Inattentive type ADHD can still result in many challenges for the child or young person, particularly in learning environments.

Supporting resources
Learning more about ADHD

There are a variety of research-backed therapies that can help relieve symptoms of ADHD. Some of the most effective approaches combine both therapy and medication and stimulant medications are the most commonly prescribed. These drugs stimulate the parts of the brain that are under-stimulated and related to thinking and attention. The goals of these medications are to reduce hyperactivity/impulsivity and increase focus/attention. Another example is cognitive behavioural therapy, this approach emphasises mindfulness and teaches a child to be aware of their emotions as a way of improving attention.

Supporting resources

5 ideas to support your child from parents
10 tips to support your teenage with ADHD

There are many things that you can do to support your child with ADHD.

Firstly, it is important to consider that ADHD is a spectrum condition, meaning that no two individuals with ADHD will present in the same way and therefore there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to managing ADHD. However, there are many general strategies that may be beneficial to your child:

  • Talk to your child’s school about the support that can be put in place in the classroom
  • Establish a good routine to help establish boundaries and reduce anxieties. This can also assist with planning, organising and working memory by strengthening executive functions and can help to prepare for transitions.
  • Involve your child in developing routines so that they will have more investment in the process and will be more likely to stick with it.
  • Use checklists and allow your child to tick items off their lists once they have completed them. This can promote a sense of reward when tasks are completed and increase motivation.
  • Allow time for language processing when asking your child a question or giving an instruction.
  • Take time to talk to your child about how they are feeling
  • Coach your child to articulate and verbalise their emotions rather than externalising them through actions or behaviour.
  • Using visuals, for example, the Feelings Thermometers can be very useful to explore how they are feeling.
  • Allow your child time to calm down when stressed, as this is an important way to help them feel safe and to be able to think rationally and logically again.
  • Teach your child a variety of relaxation and breathing techniques to use during this downtime.
  • Encourage a healthy balanced-diet and try to avoid excess sugar
  • Build in opportunities for physical activity to reduce stress, support sleep and help with focus.
  • Look for opportunities to praise and reward your child’s strengths to encourage positive behaviours and increase their sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Focus on and celebrate the positives of ADHD, using the many successful people with ADHD as role models.

ADHD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that can present with challenges but also has many positive qualities.

Children who have ADHD can be highly imaginative and creative, they can think quickly on the spot, have lots of ideas, give lots of attention when interested in a particular subject, think “out of the box” and can be great talkers. All of these qualities can become real assets for a child as they grow up.

There can be challenges with ADHD, of course, for example, difficulties with organisation, planning, memory and sustaining attention on subjects that the child is not immediately interested in. However, if children are identified and diagnosed with ADHD during their childhood, they can be supported to learn strategies for themselves that will address these challenges as they get older, for example, learning how ADHD impacts on their life and in their learning, being physically active and getting enough sleep.

Many children who have ADHD accept it for themselves and recognise the positive features and, in the long term, become successful and happy adolescents and then adults.

Yes, children and young people can experience difficulties with sleep. This can result in not falling asleep easily, not sleeping soundly through the night and then not waking up feeling refreshed. The mental and physical restlessness of ADHD can disturb a child’s sleep patterns. This can then exacerbate problems with concentration and focus throughout your child’s day in school.

Supporting resources

The Link Between ADHD and Poor Sleep
Body Relaxation for ADHD
What is the Relationship Between Teenage  ADHD and Stress 

Executive functioning is the way in which your brain plans and organises itself. The functions are self-regulating skills that we all use to accomplish tasks, for example, target setting, prioritising, self-monitoring and time management. homework. It is very common that children and young people with ADHD will have difficulties in these areas.

Supporting resources

ADHD: Developing Executive Functioning Skills 

Time blindness is a term that was first used by doctors treating people with ADHD. Most young people develop an innate awareness of time and an ability to track its passing. However, for some children and young people with ADHD, this 'time awareness' does not develop so successfully leading to missed appointments or playing a game for hours and not realising that there was homework to do done. In the most severe cases, this can have a profound effect on a person’s life. 

It is common that ADHD and other neurodevelopmental conditions will run alongside each other. Other neurodevelopmental conditions include Autism, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Tourettes, Dyscalculia etc. For some children, they may receive a diagnosis of 2 or more conditions. This means that they are co-occurring. For some children, the co-occurring conditions are easily identified but for others, it can take some time.

Supporting Resources: 
ADHD and Co-occurring Conditions 

The condition is not really an Attention Deficit. People with ADHD can pay attention. It is actually a condition which leads to difficulties controlling, directing and sustaining attention. People with ADHD can pay a lot of attention to things and activities that really interest or excite them or activities which are immediately rewarding. This is called Hyperfocus.

Witherslack ADHD Resources

We have recently refreshed the Advice and Support area of our website, a hub of knowledge we are very proud of. This section can now be filtered by our five specialist SEN areas of expertise:

ADHD support
Autism support
Speech, Language and Communication support
Mental Health support
EHCP support

From events and webinars to articles, e-books and case studies, Here you can find a wide variety of resources providing parents, carers and professionals with advice, support and guidance.

External ADHD Resources

The following is a list of websites and organisations that can help you. While we have done our best to list the most up to date and relevant information on ADHD, please be advised that all the sources are constantly changing and new information will be added regularly.

ADD / ADHD Online Information | Adders
ADHD support and action group for Havering, Barking & Dagenham and surrounding areas | Addup
National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service | ADDISS
Integrated health and education service | ADHD Foundation  
ADHD Voices Project | ADHD Voices
Campaigning for the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people | CYPMHC
Championing neurodiversity | Mindroom
Professional association of teachers of students with specific learning difficulties | Patoss

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