By KEVIN CRONIN
LIMERICK children with suspected Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) face a wait of up to two years to see child psychiatric services, according to the chairperson of the ADD Mid West Support Committee.
Chairperson Katrina Allen said: “There is a waiting list of 18 months to two years in the HSE Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Service. By the time a child gets noticed and is put on a waiting list they can be eight or nine years old.”
Ms Allen recently accepted a cheque from local Garda Loretta Cregan, who raised €300 for the Mid West Support Committee by running in the Limerick Mini Marathon.
The Committee provides parents of children with suspected ADD or ADHD with information and emotional support for coping with the difficult condition.
“Quite a significant number of young offenders have undiagnosed ADD or ADHD. It is definitely a genetic neurological condition. It runs in families and can usually be traced back to a relative who may also have been undiagnosed,” Ms Allen said.
She explained that intervention in severe ADHD cases is vital to prevent such children from coming to the attention of Garda when they reach secondary school age.
Children with potential ADD also have to undergo an educational assessment, run by the National Educational Psychological Services (NEPS), which prioritise certain children. The cost of getting a private educational assessment can vary from €350 to €500, beyond the reach of some parents, Ms Allen added.
“The juvenile officers from Mayorstone Garda station attend our monthly meetings and bring parents to the support group if they feel they might benefit,” she said.
Ms Allen maintained that psychiatrists never diagnose patients after just one visit, but compile evidence over a period of time before making a final diagnosis.
“Children with ADD often wouldn’t be showing any outward signs.
“Unlike children with the hyperactivity disorder, a child with ADD could be sitting at the back of the classroom not paying attention. They wouldn’t have the focus to concentrate,” she added.
Ms Allen said she would not advocate medication on its own in such cases, but would recommend that it be combined with anger management classes and behaviour therapy. ADHD patients may also suffer from oppositional defiance disorder, causing them to rebel against authority, she said.
“Parents often don’t know what to do next, but we provide a one-stop shop for information and help in cutting through the red tape.
“Just by attending a support group parents realise they are not alone,” Ms Allen added.
The ADD Midwest Support Committee holds a monthly support meeting, open to all, on the first Thursday of every month at 8pm in Unit 11, Limerick Enterprise Development Park, Roxboro Road, Limerick.
They also operate a 24 hour Help Line for parents at (061) 312621.