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ADD/ADHD - Thanet ADDers

Article In The Prison Reform Trust Magazine - Autumn 1997

Crime and Disorder

Although the words to describe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be unfamiliar, it is a condition, which has been known about for many years.

ADHD is a condition believed to be caused by a malfunction or lack of activity in the frontal lobule section of the brain. It's symptoms in sufferers include irrational and often violent behaviour, inability to concentrate on tasks for more than a few moments, being easily distracted, fidgety and restless. Sufferers often have a very poor short-term memory and seem to have boundless energy.

ADD is the same condition but without the hyperactive behaviour. Sufferers are often distant, find concentrating very difficult and are frequently labelled as just plain lazy.

Whilst to my knowledge there have been no studies in this country regarding ADD/ADHD and a link to destructive or criminal behaviour, many firmly believe, as I do, that a number of offenders are in fact sufferers from this disorder. My own 13 year old son, was expelled from school last year for holding a knife to another boys throat in a home economics lesson. He has since been diagnosed as suffering from ADHD.

TANTRUMS
Since he was two years old we were aware that something was not quite right. We had two other sons to compare him with, neither of whom displayed the tantrums and behaviour mood swings that he did. We were constantly walking on eggshells, for the slightest remark could be misconstrued and he would fly off the handle for no apparent reason.

Since our son was diagnosed, my wife and I have started a support group (Thanet ADDers) for sufferers and their families in our part of Kent. We now have over two hundred members locally in this small area. There are around 60 similar groups up and down the country but the numbers of those who have been diagnosed is just the tip of the iceberg. Because the condition is so little known about amongst professionals and the general public, there are thousands of children and adults (the condition does not necessarily disappear in adulthood) who are left undiagnosed.

With appropriate medication and support, ADHD and ADD can be treated very successfully. Many of our child members have been excluded from school because of violent and disruptive behaviour, further confirming my belief that many are labelled as delinquent when in fact suffering from this treatable medical condition. They are not the product of bad parenting or society's declining standards. They are ill.

TREATMENT
The Government recognises the disorders and, I hope, is looking at ways of improving knowledge and facilities, so that early diagnosis and treatment can be provided for those that need it.

We have an Internet website at http://www.adders.org giving more information.


Simon Hensby

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