You, Me and ADHD
I have been working with people with ADHD my entire professional life, in one way or another. I may not have known it at the the time (it was a long while back and ADHD was not as well researched or understood in the 70’s as it is even now) but probably a high percentage of people I met when working my 15 years in the Criminal Justice System had ADHD. (Research indicates up to 45% of young offenders and 24% of adult males have ADHD .(1))
Working with young people struggling in education, and now within my work on the K9 Project, I see children and young people whose brains are not wired for, the mostly stationary learning, our current educational system is geared up to provide. For sure there is a greater understanding amongst many, but children are still struggling.
I can relate to their experiences and it is probably not a coincidence that I am never happier than when working with children with ADHD! Although I have never been formally diagnosed, those online tests are pretty clear, I’m there somewhere!! I love the high energy and creativity, the random nature of conversations, the many, many skills and abilities children with ADHD demonstrate, and the pace at which you can get things done. For sure the things you end up doing are not always the ones you set out to do, but that’s part of the excitement!
Of course having ADHD, especially undiagnosed ADHD, can also be challenging. Something that really makes me sad is to see a child who has already given up trying at school-
“It doesn’t matter what I do I just can’t make it through the day without getting into trouble- sometimes I really try”- Craig 11.
“My son has already given up – you are too late for him” parent about her 12 year old son.
For me this is not about minimising the daily challenges many children and their families face, but more about finding the joy within it, and the strength to continually advocate with schools and services for the best outcomes for children.
In the past 8 years I have wanted to consolidate my experiences and have researched, attended workshops, undertaken training, gained awards and developed programmes to work alongside children and families with ADHD. Paws for Thought is a parent and child groupwork programme focusing on the strengths of ADHD, whilst acknowledging the challenges. We ran it with local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services over a two year period the feedback was excellent.
However I have a secret weapon in terms of encouraging engagement- Enter IZZYDOG. A small mixed breed dog who was found as a stray, taken to the pound, and pulled out of the pound ( by the lovely folks at Animal Helpline Dog Rescue) at the last minute when her 7 days were up (lucky girl). From there she found us and came to live as part of our then 7 dog family. She became a K9 Project dog and it became instantly apparent that her main skill would be working with those with ADHD. They could see themselves in her and instantly relate. High energy, easily distracted, impulsive, a bit full on, lively, quick to react. Of course she is also clever, smart, lovable, funny, affectionate, trainable, capable of being calm given the right environment and support, brave, fearless, agile and capable of focussing totally if she’s doing something she loves, (like scentwork) and exciting to be around.
“ Working with Izzy made me realise I can be crazy AND lovable” David ages 12.
IZZYDOG is also an author. Told you she was clever. She has written a book called You, Me and ADHD. This is an activity book, exploring challenges, finding strengths. Lots of pages of things to do/think/talk about, colour in. Mindfulness, positive affirmations, words of encouragement and support- all written from IZZYDOG’S point of view. Fabulous illustrations, amazing photographs. Most of the activities formed part of our Paws For Thought programme with children and parents and so have been tried and tested many times! The book is really designed to be worked through with an adult- a parent/ support worker/ teaching assistant. And not all at the same time. Although some of my young research team have done just that!
The feedback so far is that children feel much better about themselves once they have completed the activities- that was my aim when writing it! Life affirming, positive, confidence building and self esteem boosting. Understanding, no judgements, fun and interesting.
We are currently crowdfunding to get the book out there and pay for all the fabulous things that IZZYDOG (despite being brilliant) cannot quite do. All those fabulous illustrations and amazing design work, and all the jobs needed to get the book published, are way beyond IZZYDOG’s capabilities, and mine!! Words we can do ….the rest – well we need some help!!
So if you’d like to pledge to gain an advance, signed by IZZYDOG copy of the book, plus some other amazing IZZYDOG or ADHD themed rewards head on over to
We are also donating a % of the pledges to at least one charity- everyone who pledges gets a chance to vote for their chosen charity. There are lots of worthy ADHD and dog rescue organisations out there!
We really believe, and have so far been told, that this book can be incredibly positively helpful, that it provides a great framework for sessions with children with ADHD, or constructive story times.
IZZYDOG says she hopes you can support us and thank you for your time.
1.. Young, S. & Thome, J. (2011). ADHD and offenders. The World Journal of Biological of Biological Psychiatry,12(S1): 124–128. DOI: 10.3109/15622975.2011.600319