Blog | Shining a light on ADHD
How do you support someone who has a disability that others can’t see? We discuss Scouting with ADHD with people who have first-hand experience
What's the one thing you wish people knew about ADHD?
Denise*, mother of an Explorer with ADHD, says: ‘What it actually means, which is attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.’
How do you feel other people view ADHD?
Fiona, parent of a son with ADHD, says: ‘Some people assume conditions like ADHD are down to bad parenting and the way you treat your child rather than a medical condition or their brain being wired differently. The parents aren’t at fault. If there’s a child lying down in the supermarket screaming and kicking, don’t tut at the parents, just accept it and move on. That parent is probably going through hell and could do with some support. The world could do with being more inclusive and people should try to understand, because not everybody’s the same and not everybody’s perfect, but everybody is equal.’
How can leaders support a young person with ADHD?
James Upton, specialist adviser for inclusion and diversity, says: ‘Leaders can sometimes be quick to label young people with ADHD, but they need to work out the best way of supporting them without disrupting everyone else. See who they work well with and mix the group up.
‘Don’t let other young people laugh or comment about the young person being naughty, because that’s where bullying comes in. If they’re having a bad day, ask them, their parents or carers to let you know so you can work around it. It’s better for them to be open and honest rather than keeping things bottled up. Work with the young person, parent and the Group they’re in, and remember that everyone is different. Speak to the parents, get more information from them and take it from there.’
What's it like to have ADHD in Scouting?
Khalid*, volunteer and former Scout with ADHD, says: ‘I got a lot out of Scouting. I was even lucky to have leaders that worked in specialist schools and who had received training. There were times on camp, where we were away for longer than two nights, and I didn’t cope very well, but in general, the medication I was on, the friends I had and the support I got all really helped. I got excellent support back then, and now as a leader I have the right support from the District, and that makes things so much easier.’
How does having a young person with ADHD affect the Troop's Scouting experience?
Leticia*, leader of a Troop with multiple young people with ADHD and autism, says: ‘It doesn’t impact what we do, we just adjust the way we do it. We are constantly juggling the likely behaviour and reactions of those young people with autism and ADHD. We have young people with a variety of disabilities so thinking about how we group the young people and which activities we should run is important. The Scout Programme we follow needs to be active. Young people with ADHD need to be on the go and contributing to what’s happening, so our Scout Programme is much more physical and participatory; there’s very little stationary work.’
Tell us about your son's Scouting experience
Denise*, mother of an Explorer with ADHD, says: ‘He found it hard at the start of Cubs because he didn’t have the communication and social skills to join in with the others. Then, once he’d come around to the idea that he didn’t have to be in the middle of everything, he started to really enjoy it.
‘He’s always had a lot of badges. Scouting works well for him because he likes the structures and the fact that he can collect badges and sew them on his uniform. He was included in everything the Beavers and Cubs did, which was really important, because a lot of the time kids with autism and ADHD are sidelined and don’t get to take part.
‘If you can get your child with ADHD, autism or anxiety to take part in life a bit more, it can really help their condition and mental health, which in turn makes a massive difference to their life, education and general wellbeing.’
Find out more
Not all young people with ADHD will exhibit the same behaviours and symptoms. Possible symptoms include: excessive physical movement, not being aware of danger, being very chatty, and constantly changing activity or task. For more information about ADHD, visit the ADHD Foundation.