Page updated: 12th March 2021
Reaching Families and Amaze have worked in partnership to produce a series of informative materials written by parent-carers for parent-carers. These include a series of factsheets on specific conditions designed to be used by parents-carers when they receive their child's diagnosis. The information provided will help to gain a better understanding of their child's condition, alongside the current local support services available.
What is ADHD?
‘Attention Deficit hyperactivity Disorder’ (ADHD) refers to a neurological condition with behavioural symptoms.
These may include:
ADHD is the most common neurological condition in the UK. It affects around 2 to 5 per cent of school-age children and is more common in boys than girls.
Restlessness or fidgeting
Easy distraction from tasks
For most people ADHD is a life-long condition, although the symptoms usually improve with age. However, some people may continue to experience difficulties into adulthood.
Characteristics of ADHD
There are two types of behavioural symptoms that characterise ADHD:
Inattentiveness – signs include: having a short attention span and being easily distracted; appearing forgetful or losing things; finding it difficult to listen or follow instructions; constantly changing activity.
Hyperactivity and impulsiveness – signs include: being unable to sit still or to concentrate on tasks; excessive movement or talking; interrupting; acting without thinking; having little or no sense of danger.
The behavioural symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of ADHD are usually noticeable in children before the age of six and will be seen in more than one setting (such as home and school). Some people with ADHD also have learning difficulties and problems with sleep. ADHD is also common amongst people who have autism.
Children who only have difficulties with inattention tend to be diagnosed with ‘attention deficit disorder’ (ADD), which can go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.
Causes of ADHD
The exact causes of ADHD are unknown. It tends to run in families and research suggests that parents and siblings of a child with ADHD are four to five times more likely to have it themselves. Various other risk factors are thought to play a part, but firm links have not been made, so more research is needed.
Types of Therapy
There is no known ‘cure’ for ADHD but there are a number of therapies and intervention that can help
to manage it, including:
Behaviour therapy - uses a system of positive reinforcement to help parents, families and
sometimes teachers to encourage improved behaviour in children with ADHD.
Diet and exercise - the NHS recommends regular exercise and a balanced diet for children with
ADHD. Cutting down on certain foods, such as sugar can help with symptoms. Speak to your GP or a
dietician for advice on changes to diet.
Medication - A number of drugs are available to provide short-term treatment for ADHD. These may help people to feel calmer and to concentrate. Four drugs are licensed in the UK – methylphenidate,
dexamfetamine, lisdexamfetamine and atomoxetine.
Social skills training – using role play and drama to help children learn how they should behave in specific social situations.
Talking therapies – regular contact with a counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist is known to help children better understand and manage their condition.
Support and Advice Services
ASCT (Autism, Social and Communication Team) – team of advisory teachers with expertise in autism who support and advise schools on the educational, social and emotional development of children and young people. Referral is via your child’s school – please ask them for further information.
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) – doctors and therapists who help children and young people with mental health issues. Referrals must be made by a professional from health, social care or an educational setting.
Child Disability Service – a social work service for children and young people with severe and/or complex disabilities, it works with families and other agencies to ensure they get the right support. Information can be found via the Local Offer website or families should call the Integrated Front Door (IFD) for West Sussex Children Services on 01403 229900 or complete the 'Raising A Concern online referral' .
– work with individual primary aged pupils and their schools to support inclusion and raise attainment. For further information go to their Service Summary card on the Local Offer.
Learning and Behaviour Advice Team
Portage – a home-based educational programme tailored to a child’s individual needs. Available
to very young children. Chichester: 01243 536182; Crawley and East Grinstead: 01293 572480;
Horsham: 01243 536182; Mid-Sussex: 01444 243150; Worthing: 01903 242558.
Portage – a home-based educational programme tailored to a child’s individual needs. Available from birth to pre-school children. Chichester: 01243 536182, Crawley: 01293 572480, Horsham and Mid-Sussex: 01444 243150, Worthing: 01903 242558.
Reaching Families – runs a number of workshops that can help parents of children with ADHD.
West Sussex Children Services – support from health and social care. If your child is under 18, call the Integrated Front Door (IFD) for West Sussex Children Services, tel: 01403 229888 or email: [email protected] For over 18s call the Adults’ CarePoint: 01243 642121, or email: [email protected]
Worthing ADHD Support Group – search for their closed group on Facebook
Other resources – The Ashdown club, Worthing: 01903 528607; Kangaroos, Haywards Heath: 01444 459108; PACSO, Chichester: 01243 533353; Springboard Project, Horsham: 01403 218888.
Further reading and useful links
Making Sense of it All – Reaching Families' handy parent/carer guide contains information and advice on benefits, support for your child at school, getting help from social services and accessing social & leisure activities
ADHD Information Services (ADDISS)
Disability living allowance (DLA) – your child may qualify for DLA, a state benefit that will help with
their care. Find out more information on
children's DLA and adults DLA.
West Sussex Local Offer and search for ‘ADHD’.
Young Minds – the mental health charity for young people has a section of their website devoted to ADHD with fact sheets and advice.
Compass Card West Sussex – a free leisure discount card for 0 to 25 year olds with SEND, which is run by Amaze. Visit their website or call: 0300 123 9186.
HACSG (The Hyperactive Children’s Support Group) The HACSG has a great deal of information available related to Food Additives, Food Intolerance, Omega Fatty Acids, Vitamins & Minerals and how they can impact on hyperactivity and ADHD.
Visit their website to find out more