ADHD is the chronic, debilitating childhood disorder which has a substantial effect on many aspects of a child's life, from family and school to their social environments. It is characterised by considerably high levels of impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. Medication is currently the standard form of treatment, however this treatment is not effective in all cases.
In recent times international guidelines have called for the adoption of high quality parenting programmes to be deployed as the first step in the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD. A new and innovative project which will work towards placing parenting programmes firmly on the 'treatment map', has been awarded over €2 million under the EU's INTERREG VA Programme. Aileen O'Donaghue, CEO of the projects lead partner Clondalkin Behavioural Initiative Ltd - Archways Ireland talks about the project.
"The project is called 'The Changing Lives Initiative' and will deliver a new early intervention service for families with a child (aged between 3 to 7) with a pattern of behaviour consistent with Hyperkinetic disorder/ADHD. Particular focus will be on families from disadvantaged areas in Louth, West Belfast and Argyll and Bute. Project partners include Dundalk Institute of Technology, the Louth Leader Partnership, NHS Highland: Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership and the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership.
"There is a real need to increase the current treatment options. In Ireland there is a long waiting list, with over 30% of children being referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) for ADHD. These figures are mirrored in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Our project has a two pronged approach to up-skilling parents and up-skilling early year providers and teachers. An information and awareness programme will be rolled out to 2,000 families and will consist of modules covering the symptoms of ADHD, current treatment approaches and the adoption of parenting strategies.
"A screening programme involving 1,400 families will test if children have hyperkinetic disorder, with an information and support service provided to those who have tested below the threshold required for an assessment of ADHD. Where appropriate, referrals will be made to appropriate community services for those who fall beneath this threshold. A total of 560 families will progress from the screening test to participate in a 20-week 'Incredible Years ADHD Parent Programme'. This has been specifically designed to clinically treat children with ADHD symptoms and will include sessions dealing with problem solving, anger management and parental stress. 50 professional teachers and early year providers will participate in an extensive training programme to increase their awareness of ADHD. This training cannot be accessed anywhere else and will hopefully improve the referral system. For children who don't benefit from the programme referrals to CAMHS or other appropriate services will be made."
To find out more about the work of Archways Ireland click here.