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January 10th 2000

Driving Mum Crazy

TAYLER'S STORY

UK Channel 5, Tuesday 11th January - 8.30 - 9.00 p.m. - 1 of 3. First in a new three-part series that looks at the problems faced by families with children with behavioural difficulties. This programme focuses on a five-and-a-half-year-old girl, Tayler. When out shopping, Tayler regularly hits out at strangers; at home, she has been known to smash ornaments and destroy her siblings' toys, and she rarely sleeps more than four hours a night. With Louise devoting all her energies to her youngest child, the others inevitably suffer, and she has even considered asking social services to remove Tayler from the family home. When Tayler is finally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Louise has to decide what can be done.

United Productions
SERIES PRODUCER FIONA KEENAGHAN
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER SIMON WALTON

"I'm Not A Bad Mum..."
...but Louise's five-year-old problem daughter bites, punches, kicks and spits - and is tearing her family apart

Belinda Robey for What's On TV Magazine writes....

Louise Lawler's family is being destroyed and she feels powerless to prevent it. Frustrated, heartbroken and exhausted, Louise doesn't know where to turn next.

The cause? Her youngest child, Tayler.

A year ago, Tayler, five, was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The condition has been written about, talked about and featured in the recent Channel 4 television drama Kid in the Corner.

But Louise says no one who hasn't lived with a sufferer can even begin to understand how the extreme behavioural problems, including violence, defiance and inability to concentrate, can affect one's entire family.

'First, I was told it was the terrible twos,' says Louise, who appears with her family in the first of a new Channel 5 series, Driving Mum Crazy. 'Then I was assured she'd settle down once she started school. But the older she gets, the worse the problem is.'

After four months at a mainstream school near their home in Basingstoke, Hampshire, Tayler was excluded for head-butting a dinner lady. She now attends a special school for emotionally disturbed children.

But her condition has continued to have such a devastating effect on her four brothers and sisters that Louise has considered asking Social Services to remove Tayler from the family home.

'She bites, punches kicks spits and swears at us,' says single mum Louise. 'Sadie, who's nine, has been the worst affected. She was so stressed that her hair started falling out. It's not fair on the others but I can't give up on Tayler. 'There is another side to her; she can be affectionate and funny. She's not wilfully naughty - she has a problem which needs treating.'

Louise has visited a succession of doctors, paediatricians and psychologists in a bid to find the right help for her daughter.

'We've tried everything from different diets to ignoring. the bad behaviour,' she says. 'One psychologist said I was unable to bring up Tayler. I'm not a bad mother, my other children have grown up well-mannered and well-behaved.'

A year ago Tayler was prescribed a drug called Ritalin which has proved successful in controlling ADHD on both sides of the Atlantic.

Not, however, in Tayler's case. Her behaviour grew more and more extreme.

In a last-ditch attempt to find a solution, Louise visited a private clinic in Horsham, Sussex. She was told to increase Tayler's Ritalin dosage.

Initially, it looked like Tayler's ADHD might finally be coming under control. But, within days, she had one of her worst ever outbursts. Louise is now trying to raise enough money for a second consultation at the clinic.

'You can't just drug a child and say, "It hasn't worked, so that's that", 'says Louise. 'Sometimes I think I can't cope with another day. But I have no option. Without the right help, I'm scared what the future holds for my daughter.'

Words: Belinda Robey
Photograph: Channel 5




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