Call for ADHD support after son's death

Published Wednesday, 14 November 2012
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A family from Ballinderry have claimed a lack of support for people with attention deficit disorder contributed towards the death of their son.

One in 10 children in Northern Ireland are affected by ADHD - and the number has been significantly on the rise in recent years.

Michael Napier's life was at times a long lonely journey.

After a 25-year struggle with attention deficit disorder his battle came to an end in 2009, when he died en route to France on a family holiday.

Drink and drugs had taken their toll.

Michael's parents Moira and James told UTV his story is a tragedy of a child who never got the help he cried out for.

"His speech became quite stuttered, he found it difficult to enunciate clearly and there were worrying aspects like that," said Moira.

"Although his motor coordination was superb - he was a marvellous footballer, cricketer, anything like that - he couldn't seem to grapple with things that required close attention."

The warning signs were spotted by Michael's parents when he was two months old, but no diagnoses was offered until he was 16.

Moira continued: "Things really began to go downhill when he was about 14 or 15. He really didn't enjoy school and I don't think some of his teachers enjoyed having him there. He was outspoken because he couldn't see the cause and effect of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, he was liable to get into scraps and scrapes and he became increasingly disillusioned."

ADD is just one branch of the condition ADHD, which affects around 30,000 children in NI - about 10% of the school population

Symptoms can include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour.

The Napier family's experiences have now been captured in a book James has written, and they are keen to keep Michael's memory alive while equipping other families to deal with their struggles.

James said: "I certainly remember him without the ADD label - there are certain times when it comes back, but I remember him without that."

Moira added: "I remember his smile".

© UTV News
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8 Comments
Vinny in Belfast wrote (363 days ago):
I think it is very important that this countrys health system is more aware of the nature of this condtion and the nature of the timeline in a persons life if not treated in anyway, young people diagnosed start out in school were they start showing signs of there inattention and impulsiveness they may do well socially but they do not accedemically not because they are stupid they usually have average or above average intellect it really dosnt matter if your a genious they know just about as much as anyone else in that school or that place, but the symptoms of inattention and bad short term memory means it hinders them from reaching thier full potential without difficuly. As they get older and have more responsiblity life gets more difficult to get ontop of. everyone is different but evetually the strain of adhd on their lives takes effect and puts them into depression which can be very difficult to get out of, treatment early before it gets to a stage of depression should be indicated as its belived to make a big difference on there concentration levels but as of yet there is limted medications in northern ireland unlike the states, truly very sad for the family and the loss of thier son and my thoughts are with them. as this is a very complex condition, i have been told the condition is were certain areas of the brain which control cognitive function processes too quickly for the rest of the brain to synchronize ,it has been said it is attention deficit but it is actually really attention to everything so the rest of the brain has a hard time filtering what is important to the situation like focusing on your work or what your saying. There needs to be more inforation with people who have this condition in northern ireland as there isnt much at the min , the condition is apparently due to a chemical imbalance which is why alot of people get relief from class a substances as it gives thier brain what it needs to function which is a serious problem
James Caskey in Belfast wrote (518 days ago):
As a father of a child recently diagnosed with ADHD, I am glad that people are raising awareness of ADHD. The Napier’s story is tragic and it was very brave of them to face the cameras. I would love to know where I could buy a copy of their book. A director of Phoenix has stated that ADHD affects 3 – 5% of the population. The lady mentioned that it affects 10% of our school aged population. Recent research would suggest this. The director of Phoenix states that the recognition of and diagnosis of ADHD is on the increase – if this is correct (which it is) then surely ADHD is on the increase? Also, prescriptions of ADHD medication are on the increase, so surely the condition is? I have also read that diagnosis of ADHD in adults is on the increase. If this is true then there are about 2 generations that were never diagnosed in the past. If adults with ADHD are breeding and it is a genetic condition, then it is on the increase! The lady never mentioned that they are the only organisation providing support for people with AHD. She did say they were the ‘Only centre of our kind, providing the type of service that we’re providing’. To be honest I don’t know what either organisation offers or how they differ, but a quick glance at both websites and I see that ADD-NI are funded by the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Health & Social Care Trust, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, NIO and the NIPS. It strikes me as a little peculiar that Phoenix has no funding from the above. Perhaps, this is a reflection on the support they offer? The more awareness about ADHD the better, but not in this way. Trying to score cheap points defeats the purpose and in this case distracts from the tragic story that a family in Ballinderry have lost their son.
marc browne in malone wrote (519 days ago):
My opinions are that as a health care practitioner and private individual. No aspersions were made or inferred in respect to the group you talk about. I am sure they must do some good work. It seems these rather acidic responses can only go to reinforce my original feelings and concerns, in regard to the trivialising the death of this young man, and the overarching seriousness of the subject matter involved.
Marc Browne in Malone wrote (519 days ago):
This is a tragic account of a lost life, through chronic failure of our health system that was, My thoughts and sympathy are with this young man's parents and family, who are left to deal with the loss of a precious son. It is obvious that this is at the heart of this report - something which appears lost on a previous contributor, who appears more concerned to detract from this tragic event by making somewhat irrelevant comments in a very insensitive and tasteless manner.
Jean Nystrom in USA wrote (519 days ago):
I wish more research to expand into the disorder of ADD/ADHD. I quote an article I just read moments ago of which I think is pertinent to the above article: “Many progressive behavioral medicine practitioners have come to realize that although a disorder may be primarily physical or psychological in nature, it’s always a disorder of the whole person - not just of the body or the mind,” Dr. Slobodzien adds. I truly believe that ADD/ADHD is a result of a biochemical imbalance in the mind which in turn affects the body. That is why the drugs are not working because they are treating the symptoms not the cause and do not take into account the effects the medications have on both the body and mind. After seeing the medications fail with my daughter I turned to a neurofeedback/edufeedback platform called Play Attention and have seen my theory proven. This program takes into account that rather then try to treat the symptoms, treat the cause and shape the behavior accordingly. Thus, the symptoms go away and new behavior develops. After seeing the results in my own daughter I realized the body and mind can become one..
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