Lynsey felt well equipped to cope with becoming a mum for the third time, and she was delighted when her daughter Hannah was born. Looking back, she can see signs that Hannah was different from her friends, but she was able to adapt their family routine to accommodate her needs. However, things changed when, aged 6, Hannah lost a friend in a tragic accident.
“My wee bubbly whirlwind turned into a ball of anger and I needed help to help her. Hannah became very aggressive, regularly attacking me and her siblings. She said she wanted to die”.
Lynsey sought help from school, and a teacher who had known Hannah since nursery agreed that something had changed. However, the school didn’t seem to know where to go for help. Lynsey managed to get support from a bereavement counselling charity, which was very helpful, but Hannah struggled to focus on the sessions.
“The homelink worker asked me if I had ever thought Hannah might have ADHD. This was a complete shock to me but I knew I had to find out for Hannah’s sake if this was true. So I spoke to the school and the educational psychologist suggested a referral to CAMHS. I thought that at last I would get the help I needed.”
“As a family we were exhausted. Hannah wasn’t sleeping very well and when she was awake it was a constant battle. From trying to get her out the door in the morning to dodging the punches, we were all struggling. Her brother and sister had stopped having their friends over as result of the constant aggression or the state of the house, because Hannah writes all over the walls and smashes up furniture. They felt too scared to leave me with Hannah as they were worried she would hit me. It was an emotional rollercoaster every day.”
Lynsey was devastated when the referral to CAMHS was rejected, because the school was reporting that Hannah did not have any additional needs.
“CAMHS suggested I do a parenting course. Was this all my fault? I started questioning everything I had done with Hannah. Eventually, the school agreed to refer Hannah to CAMHS themselves. Surely this time CAMHS would agree to the referral”
This second referral was also rejected, and a parenting course was again suggested. Lynsey agreed to do this course, but has now been waiting for two years to get a place.
When Hannah was aged 8, Lynsey asked her GP for help again, feeling that her family was falling apart. This time, Hannah was given an appointment with CAMHS.
“At our first appointment, it only took five minutes for the nurse to conclude that Hannah needed an assessment for ADHD. I was shocked. I was so sure that Hannah’s issues were a trauma response to the bereavement, but the nurse was seeing something completely different.”
After several more appointments, Hannah was diagnosed with ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and autistic traits.
“Hannah is now 9 and a half, and we can now finally start accessing support for her and her siblings. If only CAMHS had seen her after that very first referral, then our struggles would have been eased more quickly. Maybe Hannah’s siblings wouldn’t hate her so much and maybe we wouldn’t have lost the support of so many of our friends and family. As a family we can’t dwell on that as we have to keep positive, for all our sakes.”
“Hannah has now decided she wants to try medicine to help her ADHD. She says she doesn’t want to feel the way she does, so we are exploring the options with CAMHS. We are waiting to get support from the Carers’ Centre, and we are also learning about ADHD as a family to support Hannah better. It’s been a very long journey to get to this point and I wouldn’t wish this on any other family. Hopefully the work that SAMH is doing will change the process for families seeking help”.