Alison Clink – my story
“Imagine dealing with difficult and sometimes violent behaviour every day and night from your own children…your feelings of inadequacy, shame and guilt as other parents look at you with withering looks and whispered comments, your children bullied and laughed at by their peers and punished by those in authority who don’t understand or want to deal with such challenging behaviour. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – one of those new fangled conditions – just excuses for bad parenting and bad children.”
I am founder of Dundee and Angus ADHD Support Group – from conception in 2013 to current times of 2022.
So ……I was a parent struggling with my son, and I knew things were not right – I tried doctors – I had to keep going back time and again, and time and again, and time and again until eventually at a visit with CAMHS (Child and Mental Health Services) and I was told that my son at age of 8 has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).
What is it? How do I deal with it? How do I help my son understand there is something different about him? Where will I get help?
Nowhere! – only a pile of thick books full of detail and medical terms – so I began to do my own research – I now knew there were other parents and families needing support and advice – and children! – there is nothing for children – schools exclude and punish them, clubs bar them, peers make fun of them.
So, I formed the Dundee and Angus ADHD Support Group, managed to attract start-up funding from Dundee Social Enterprise Network, forms a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) and started my first youth group activity session and parents support meeting in a local community hall. Soon others find out about the group and start attending sessions. I continued to increase my knowledge of ADHD and attracted interested and knowledgeable Trustees.
Funds are received to employ the best staff and new premises are rented and adapted to be more fit for purpose. Conferences are held to help parents, teachers, health professionals learn more about ADHD and Key speakers are attracted from the UK and Europe. I joined the Board of ADHD Europe and of the Scottish ADHD Coalition and is I was becoming recognised within Dundee, Angus, Scotland and beyond and I’m committed to change people’s perceptions of ADHD and increase their understanding of the complex condition.
I realised the group needed to find out the levels of knowledge and understanding of others so we could provide accurate and necessary services and so two Research projects were initiated – in 2018 a cross-societal study – “Research into the Needs of ADHD” and in 2020 – “Research into The experiences of Children and Young People with ADHD”. Both studies were carried out in partnership with key agencies – education, social work, police etc and the final conclusions and recommendations were warmly received with the studies being used to educate and inform across the UK and Europe.
Now was the time to increase the size of the premises in Angus thereby providing greater support, information and guidance for those in rural and remote areas and I soon directed my efforts towards setting up the first dedicated ADHD Learning Centres in Scotland - one located in one of the most deprived areas of Dundee, the other within the rural setting of Angus – both with qualified and experienced staff in place to provide encouragement, activities, information and support.
As more and more requests for information and presentations on ADHD were made to my team and I it became clear that I was now at the stage of my own career and personal development and I began my own venture into Coaching.
So to summarise my ADHD journey …….from one night weekly to the present time almost 9 years on – a volunteer founder, I am now full time CEO with an operational Project Manager and 19 p/t staff and 15 volunteers; 5 youth groups held weekly ; young adult group created; 2 parents support groups- urban and rural in Dundee City and Angus Region; advice and activity hubs in both Dundee and Angus; Charity Shop in Dundee; Provision of Respite Breaks throughout the year and week long activities during school holidays; purchase of minibus for learning journeys for children and young people; Research Studies into needs of those affected by ADHD; training provided for teachers, social work, police etc; founder member of Scottish ADHD Coalition and member of ADHD Europe and the group recognised as the “go to place for all things ADHD” in Dundee and Angus and beyond.
So ……. What now? – And What is next for the Group?
The aim of the Dundee and Angus ADHD Support Group has always been and remains "To provide services to support and empower children, young people and parents/carers suffering from and affected by the medical condition Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and through this raise tolerance, awareness and acceptance of the condition" and so I continue my journey to reach this goal by continuing to provide education, support and now individual coaching to help those suffering from the condition to grow and be able to positively use their ADHD.