Islington ADHD support group marks six months

Michelle Clarke, Chanelle Sidoli and Louise Jones at the centre

Michelle Clarke, Chanelle Sidoli and Louise Jones at the centre - Credit: Archant

A community group set up by volunteers to support families affected by ADHD is celebrating its first six months in action.

Parachute games at the ADHD support centre

Parachute games at the ADHD support centre - Credit: Archant

The group was set up last autumn by Chanelle Sidoli, Michelle Clarke and Louise Jones – all mothers of children with the disorder – after meeting at a parenting course run by CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).

If you recognise Chanelle’s name it’s because she was part of the Canonbury Help on Your Doorstep group that scooped a Mayor’s Civic Award last month.

Chanelle, whose 12-year-old daughter has ADHD and has the disorder herself, said: “Parents are pulling their hair out so much not just because the kids are impulsive, but because of the day-to-day anxiety that comes with it.”

In some cases, she says, children as young as nine with ADHD have self-harmed or even threatened to kill themselves.

Michelle, whose nine-year-old son has the disorder, added: “Once our children had been diagnosed with ADHD, the only support we had was this course we were told we could go on once a week for 10 weeks. But once it was over we had nothing.

“The course taught us to understand ADHD as a diagnosis and a few techniques on how to handle different behaviours. But in reality, putting that into practice by yourself can be really challenging to do and you often walk away feeling very alone.

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“So we started this group as a way to make it easier for parents and make them feel less alone. They can talk about issues, share experiences and give each other ideas on how to handle different behaviour.”

The group, she says, offers support and understanding members can’t get from friends with no experience of the disorder. “People think that it’s just the result of bad parenting and we’re not disciplining our children,” she said. “They have no idea it’s a neurological disorder these kids can’t control, and that we have to learn very specific techniques to handle situations.”

Common issues include children being excluded from school and bullied, struggling to sustain friendships and even putting themselves at risk.

The group, which meets in a differennt place each month, also invites mental health specialists to answer questions. But according to Dr Jennifer Sole, a clinical psychologist from CAMHS, it’s the parents themselves who provide the most important support.

“It’s all very well having a specialist giving ideas but parents have a lot more respect for each other because they have all lived through the experience of caring for a child with ADHD,” she said.

The Islington group meets once a month at various locations in the borough but plans more frequent sessions in future.

Currently “The Good neighbours Scheme” in Canonbury covers the cost of tea, coffee and snacks for the group but the group is seeking further funding to cover the cost of a parent worker for a few hours a week.

Anyone interested in attending is asked to e-mail for more information