Fighting to stay on top of an attention deficit

Ruben Antunes, 13 and Andrea Bell, 42 who both suffer from ADHD pictured in Aylsham.Picture: MARK BU

Ruben Antunes, 13 and Andrea Bell, 42 who both suffer from ADHD pictured in Aylsham.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

As part of our Mental Health Watch campaign, we speak to people who suffer from ADHD to highlight some of the issues they face as a result of their condition.

At school Ruben Antunes would struggle to concentrate and he would easily be distracted.

He would be made to sit still in the classroom when he had enough energy inside him to 'run around a football pitch'.

And sometimes he would say horribly rude things to his family which he would instantly regret.

None of this is down to Ruben being an unpleasant youth - instead the 13-year old has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

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'I was always the one who ended up in trouble and I didn't understand why, which was quite depressing,' he said.

'In class I can find it difficult to concentrate.

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'Having ADHD makes me very impulsive and sometimes I don't think before I say something.

'I have said things that are not very nice and I regret saying it. It can test relationships.'

ADHD is the most common behavioural disorder in the UK.

It is not known how many people in this region suffer from the life-long condition.

While the condition is manageable with drugs, questions have been raised over a perceived lack of help available on the NHS for people with ADHD when they turn 18.

Up to that age, the region's children and teenagers with the condition can receive help and treatment at a centre run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust at 80 St Stephens Road, Norwich,

A support group (Add Norfolk) has therefore been set up to help people with ADHD.

Andrea Bell, its founder and Ruben's mother, who also has ADHD, said there was little help available on the NHS for adults with ADHD.

She also believes there is a stigma attached to the condition.

'People with ADHD worry they won't get jobs if they confess to having the condition,' she said.

'And there should be a service at schools for children with ADHD to help them through class.'

Add Norfolk holds drop-in sessions for anyone affected by ADHD or ADD.

The next meetings are in Norwich on April 6 and in Aylsham on April 21.

For more information on Add Norfolk call 01263 734808 or email

To see more stories from people with ADHD see today's editions of the EDP and Norwich Evening News.

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