Many children have difficulty concentrating, find it hard to sit still or may act before they think. However, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a long-lasting neuro-developmental disorder that causes significant difficulties throughout many aspects of a child’s life, including at home, at school and with friends. It is characterised by hyperactivity, impulsivity and/or inattention. ADHD ADHD is one of the most common disorders of childhood, estimated to effect 5.29% of children.
Children can often display inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive behaviours; they can act without thinking, always be on the go, or seem to be unable to concentrate. These are normal behaviours experienced by all children, however some children may be experiencing them more frequently or at a higher intensity and to the point that they are having a negative impact on home, school or relationships. The programme offered by The Changing Lives Initiative seeks to help families address these behaviours. Some children may experience behaviours that are consistent with ADHD, however this does not always mean they will go on to be diagnosed with ADHD.
The Parent Information and Awareness sessions are to help families understand more about ADHD. Coming along to an Information and Awareness session is helpful to all families who have questions or concerns about their child’s behaviour. In these sessions we explore what ADHD is and isn’t and we explain the types of behaviour that might be consistent with ADHD. The Parent Information and Awareness sessions are open to any parent or carer who is interested. At the end of the Information and Awareness session parents who feel their child might be experiencing behaviour consistent with ADHD can decide to go forward for our Screening Programme. Parents who feel that the programme isn’t relevant for them or their child can decide not to go ahead to screening. The screening process will inform us if our programme is suitable for you.
The screening process is to find out if The Changing Lives Initiative Parent Intervention Programme will be beneficial for you and your child. Parents are asked to complete questionnaires to see if they report behaviours in their children that are consistent with ADHD. The screening process is limited in scope and is used solely to determine if a family is suitable for our programme. It is not a diagnostic or assessment process. A diagnosis of ADHD involves a much more in-depth process and can be made by the relevant health service (for example CAMHS) when a child is of a suitable age to undergo a diagnostic assessment.
The Changing Lives Initiative Programme is not suitable for families whose child has ASD or a significant learning disability even if they have a diagnosis of ADHD or are experiencing behaviours consistent with ADHD. There are, however, other more suitable Incredible Years programmes available in some of our project locations. These courses cover the same principals and techniques but the programme is broken up and delivered differently to account for the challenges associated with a child with another recognised disability.
Information and Awareness sessions are run at a variety of times including evenings and weekends to allow as many families as possible to access them. Likewise, the timing of the Parent Intervention Programme is organised so as many families can access the programme as possible. Many programmes are run in the morning during school time, but some are offered during the evening. During the screening process, parents are asked about their availability / preferred times for the programme should they be offered a place and every effort is made to accommodate the largest number of parents.
The Information and Awareness sessions, Screening and Parent Intervention Programme are all delivered within the regions selected for the programme (County Louth, West Belfast, Argyll & Bute). That said, families from outside these areas can access any element of the programme if they are willing to travel to where the session or programme is being run. For example, sessions in Louth are open to participants from Newry, Monaghan, Meath etc., if parents are willing to travel to them.
Grandparents, relatives and friends are welcome to come along to any of the Information and Awareness sessions. The Parent Intervention Programme however is only suitable for those who are a parent, co-parent or primary carer. The person attending the programme should be living with the child and be responsible for things like mealtimes, bedtime routine, discipline etc.
As part of the Changing Lives Initiative programme a number of research projects are being undertaken to demonstrate the effectiveness of the intervention programme, its cost effectiveness and the effectiveness of the Changing Lives project as a whole. At screening you will be asked if you are happy to be contacted by one of the research team. The research is being carried out by Archways (Lead Partner on the project) and by Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT). By taking part in the research, you will be contributing to a national and international research study, and playing an important role in the future delivery of the Incredible Years programmes to other parents and children throughout Ireland and elsewhere. If you are selected as part of the research programme, additional information will be sent to you, explaining what is involved. All information collected will be kept completely confidential. Participants have the right to withdraw from the research at any time without giving a reason and this will not affect your place on the Programme. If you do not want to answer a question, you are not obliged to answer.
Group based parent programmes are recommended as the first course of intervention for young children with behaviour consistent with ADHD by leading international bodies such as the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (NICE UK) and the Global ADHD Working Group. At the core of The Changing Lives Initiative is an early intervention parent programme aimed at families of children aged from 3 to 7 years with behaviours consistent with ADHD. Parents who take part in the programme will help their child earn positive behaviour, build a stronger relationship with their child and improve their child’s confidence and self-esteem. Parents will build upon their parenting skills, improve communication within the family and parents and families will feel better about themselves and about their children. For families who have concerns about their child who is too young for a diagnosis of ADHD, the Changing Lives Initiative offers a positive, proactive way for them to address their concerns.
The Changing Lives Initiative is open to all families of children aged 3 to 7 years who meet the criteria of our Screening Programme.