A story by Dundee and Angus ADHD Support Group
The Learning Journeys Project provided residential breaks for children and young people with ADHD in Ardeonaig and Dalguise and a theatre trip to Dundee Rep.
We provided respite family breaks in Coylumbridge. All of the outings provided respite, fun and challenges for families with ADHD.
What Learning Journeys did
15 Children and young people with ADHD participated in 2 residential experiences at Dalguise and Ardeonaig. Both residentials were for four days, one in October 2017 and another in April 2018 which was delayed until then due to snow! Both had a variety of exciting activities and challenges for the participants and the children's suggestions were provided at the centres.
21 Families went on weekend respite breaks to the Hilton Hotel, Coylumbridge and had fun, activities and relaxation. These took place in October, March and April. The partnership with the DM Thomas Foundation allowed us to afford the Hilton at Coylumbridge which gave families, carers, siblings and ADHD sufferers a quality experience away from the daily challenges.
The support staff and volunteers made the experiences special with their knowledge and understanding of ADHD and gave real respite time for the carers who were able to do their own thing knowing their children were also having a great and safe time. For those carers and siblings at home respite time was also valued with members of the family being able to have non-stressed times together at home.
ADHD training was also offered to staff at the residential centres but not taken up by them. Being able to purchase sleeping bags and other related equipment really helped low income families and the children to learn new skills and areas of interest. Children made new friends and learned new skills, carers relaxed both at home and on the hotel break.
30 families went to Beauty and the Beast Musical at the Dundee Rep in the April holidays which suited the ADHD group and a great time was had by all! The families said that they never go to the theatre as they cannot afford such luxuries, we were able to get vouchers for a future production to allow them to go to a new production in the near future.
We had to change dates of the residentials due to the "Beast from the East" storm which was challenging in the time frame of the grant!
What Dundee and Angus ADHD Support Group has learned
We have learned that plans often change! Storms and snow led to a few problems but we overcame these with positive partnerships with the respite and residential centres we used.
We have learned that attracting funding is easier when you have evidence of how respite helps the children and families and so the evaluations and case studies are really important.
The family respite breaks we offered worked so well for our group and enabled some families to attend who would not otherwise have been able to due to having other children both ADHD and non-ADHD. We were also able to provide these respite breaks for families facing real life challenges and able to provide them for families in financial need.
We have learned that these family respite breaks are valuable and we will be seeking funds for more in the future. We learned that the respite breaks and residentials allowed for stronger friendships to be made and continue at home and at the youth group.
28 children and young people with ADHD will have participated in outdoor residentials providing fun, learning new skills and behaviours, added new interests and relationships.
We had 57 children and young people who participated in outdoor residentials. They took part in a wide range of activities including canoeing, loch swimming, bike trail, forest adventure, scavenger hunt, tree climb, high ropes course, blindfold course, photography, bush craft and camp fire, zip wire, giant swing etc. Five Residentials were held at Dalguise, Ardeneoig and Coylumbridge. One was 5 days and four were 3 days long. Photography has been continued with the group since the residential with the purchase of new equipment including lighting, Macbook etc. and with the addition of our Bike Trailer we will be able to have them participate in adventurous bike trails.
Child B was seen to socialise well with others, but she liked to be independent and keep to herself rather than hang out with her peers. She was very friendly and got on well with others. Child B was a very creative and artistic girl but struggled to know where was appropriate to draw and do her art and so was seen to draw on things such as walls and tables although this was using a dry wipe pen that could be erased easily. When we were travelling with the group to the Ardeonaig centre I asked who would like to use a DSLR camera over the course of the trip to do some photography. Child B was the first person to show interest in using the camera and was very open to being shown how to use it. After being taught the basic functions and encouraged to use different settings on the camera she was keen to try things on her own. Along with the rest of the group Child B showed an amazing attitude towards trying new activities she had not done before. These were simple games like skimming stones across the Loch and searching the beach for stones and rocks. In most of the activities that Child B got involved in she requested to use the camera so she could get better at photography. Occasionally she would be advised to try different techniques which she took on board and when looking at her photos she showed amazing improvement from when she first started using the camera. Child B was found at the start of the trip drawing with her dry wipe pen on the dining table in the lounge area and although she stopped when she was asked to she would occasionally be found drawing again saying it could be rubbed out. We then found a white board that she could use and from that point on she used the board for drawing rather than the table or anywhere else. In conclusion, Child B has returned to club and has been asking to use the camera more. She has also come up with ideas of other activities she could use the camera for in the club. She has shown a positive change in the way that she interacts with others from the group.
Parents and carers of 28 children with ADHD will have had respite time to spend with other family members and free from constant challenges caused by having ADHD in the family.
Parents/carers of 57 children were able to spend time with other family members including partners, relations, other children. In three of the residentials parents/carers were able to come along but the ADHD Group Workers and volunteers took all children on separate activities allowing the parents/carers time to spend relaxing in the spa, spending time together, getting their hair done etc Evaluations were received after all residentials and respite time is continuing for parents and carers with more nights being offered to the children with new activities.
"X mingled with the kids from the club rather than sticking with the adults, which made my heart sing and I got to know the other parents, rather than just a simple hello. It was great to spend time with others who know what it’s like to live with kids who have ADHD. Thank you so very much for the opportunity to let my hair down for a while and for myself and X to bond with the other families. "
Carers will have more opportunities to live a life outside of caring.
We provided residentials and outings for the children both with parents and also for the children only. Carers/parents were able to do their own thing knowing their children were being safely looked after and enjoying new activities and leaning new things. The parents/carers were able to do things they wanted to do - e.g. spa treatment, swimming in pool without worry and stress of watching risk-taking ADHD children all the time, walks and time together, sharing and gaining mutual support and friendship with other parents/carers. We provide three nights of activities and have just added an additional evening for computer coding which is new to the group. The group went to Beauty and the Beast at Dundee Rep and we have tickets for a new show to be chosen by them. We will hold monthly parents support evenings and have a child/youth night for all their children so parents can be free to support each other and hear from guest speakers on subjects that are important to them.
Parent stated before the residential that having a child with ADHD "affects mental health and well-being, continually analysing parenting skills and feeling not good enough or that you are failing, and feeling continually tired” After the residential break she attended at Coylumbridge the same person said about being able to share with other parents and carers "I know I'm not alone and that people with ADHD are gifted. Emotional time "
8 parents/carers will have had the opportunity to be with ADHD child and siblings in different and supported enjoyment, focused environments and family residential.
We held three family residentials with 42 parents and carers attending them. This was very well received by the parents/carers of our Group and we were able to offer three weekends as we managed to get an amazing deal from the Hilton Hotel in Coylumbridge. They also provided leisure activities for the families. At each of these respite breaks, support workers and volunteers attended to take the children on separate outdoor and indoor activities so that parents/carers could have their own time. Each evening the families got together to do joint activities and eat together. Some of the parents also went along to other activities with their children. We continue to provide monthly support meetings for parents and have an open door everyday for parents crisis support, advocacy, educational tribunals etc.
"It has made a big difference to us, D was always withdrawn and was finding making friends difficult at youth club, due to D's duel diagnosis of ADHD and Autism he struggles with social situations and trying new things, he always doubts himself, but being away for just a few days he has made some new friends who he has been snap chatting with every day, he was happy to go to youth club and he didn't have a melt down on Wednesday past. While we were at Landmark he was willing to try new things himself he decided to try the skydive and rope walk and came off with more confidence. My boy is in a happier place and that makes life better for all of us. Thank you so much for the invite to join you guys."
We will have provided follow on new and related activities locally for families and children/young people and accessed more local leisure activities due to increased areas of interest.
We have photography sessions for a small group who became interested at the residential. They are learning how the camera works, what it does and how to use it best in different situations. We will be working with them to produce their own videos and have just received funding for an Apple Macbook Pro to help them make their own films, cartoons etc. We are waiting for a bike trailer to be made for us so we can take all the children and young people on relevant mountain bike trails as we have the bikes and minibus. We attracted funds for all this equipment and the children can take the bikes to local parks but want to go on more adventurous bike rides now. Some of the parents are keen to be involved too! We are participating in a wider range of leisure pursuits e.g. Hillclimbing in the Sidlaw Hills, Music sessions, woodworking sessions with local Social Enterprise etc.
Child A struggled when interacting with his peers due to having few social skills and being overweight. Having been bullied in the past and finding it difficult to control his behaviour. During his time on the residential trip to Abernethy Child A was found interacting with other young people his own age who also struggle with ADHD. The young people took part in team work activities which required them to trust each other such as a blind trail that involved them in closing their eyes and following the person in front through an outdoor trail. He was also involved in team-working in a code-cracking activity that required the young people to search out clues to break a code to open a box. Child A split up with a few others from the group to search out a clue which required him to going looking for a location on the grounds. On one of the nights Child A opened up to me about the struggles he had in his old school with bullying and how he thought he got blamed by teachers for losing his temper even though he felt he couldn’t help it sometimes. He also shared how he attempted to end his life because he didn’t know how to cope with everything. I shared with him that I surrounded myself with positive people that encouraged me and tried ignoring those that insulted me. Child A shared with the group that he had enjoyed himself and would consider going on a trip similar again. One difference we saw in Child A at the end of the residential was that he was more confident around the other members of the group that came on the residential and he even went on the hill climb which was new to him and he enjoyed.
We will use the Parents Support Meetings and other local workshop events to share this information with other parents, carers, teachers, health workers etc. We will use evaluations and case studies to seek ongoing funding to ensure regular respite breaks can be provided and more longer breaks.
We will be holding the Parents Support Group next month (May) focusing on respite and will be distributing questionnaires to all parents and carers. We held a conferences on 27th October 2017 and on 23rd March 2018 and we have a variety of speakers on ADHD, respite, strategies, education. The evaluations will be used to attract more funders.
Here are some evaluations of the event. We also are carrying out a Research Project into the needs of those with ADHD and those involved with it and we hope the findings from this will help us attract further funding (Launch of Research June 2018) "Me from isolation to confidence" "The conference was amazing! – Fantastic speakers, Thank You "Helped with strategies, supporting my daughter, anxieties about the future, giving coping strategies, education and respite time and made to feel I am not too bad a mum" "Not alone, it was a friendly atmosphere there was more info for teachers, I would definitely come to more conferences like these" Support for children and families with children with ADHD is essential!" "I feel really positive.as the day was excellent and what I have learned was invaluable, it will have a huge impact on improving life for my child and our whole family." " I will look forward to my respite break. Thank you and smiley face" "The need for extra training within education particularly to highlight the huge number of children/young People who don’t have a diagnosis but whose difficulties would meet criteria, and how to manage them. Thank you!" "The speakers were excellent and I feel much more informed about what ADHD is and how it affects different people. " The Respite Break, "X mingled with the kids from the club rather than sticking with the adults, which made my heart sing, and I got to know the other parents, rather than just a simple hi" It was great to spend time with others who know what it’s like to live with kids who have ADHD. Thank you so very much for the opportunity to let my hair down for a while and for myself and X to bond with the other families"