Mum's plea for support over ADHD referral problems in Wakefield

A desperate Wakefield mum is calling for greater support for parents with children suffering from suspected ADHD, after being forced to pay privately.

By Nick Frame
Friday, 29th April 2022, 7:30 am

Lucia Armitage has turned to fundraising to have her daughter assessed, after attempts to proceed through the proper NHS channels have frustratingly come to nothing.

The family from Flockton says they are at their “wit’s end” after waiting three long years to have eight-year-old Layla seen by a professional, and so set up an online Go Fund Me page.

Lucia fears the family could be waiting several more years unless she takes matters into her own hands.

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Lucia and Layla Armitage.

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ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a behavioural condition characterised by symptoms including an inability to sustain attention, hyperactivity, sleeping problems and impulsive behaviour.

Lucia said: “We noticed it with Layla since day dot.

“People said she’d grow out of it, but she hasn’t.

Lucia says it has been a 'nightmare' to get a referral for her daughter.

“She is a good girl, but she finds life difficult and she acts differently to other children of her same age.

“We had our suspicions and the doctors asked us about going down the ADHD route.”

Lucia first approached her GP, but the request was ultimately rejected.

They then tried CAMHS, the NHS-run Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Wakefield, but were told they don’t deal with ADHD assessments for children.

Lucia is calling for greater support for parents.

Up next was Layla’s school, but making matters more complicated is the fact that they live in the Wakefield area while Layla attends school in Kirklees. Again, they made no progress.

Then last summer they applied through Pinderfields, but were left crushed a few weeks ago when they were told they had been unsuccessful.

It was this news that prompted Lucia to take an alternative route and raise funds for private diagnosis.

Lucia says the reasons for the lack of progress Layla’s ability to “mask” her symptoms outside of the home, a common trait of ADHD.

But at home there is constant hyperactivity, outbursts, emotional meltdowns, severe sleeping disturbances and sensory issues.

Lucia said they knew “something wasn’t right” but was turned away because her school report and home life simply do not match up.

Lucia said: “The problem is, children with suspected ADHD or even autism don’t fit into boxes. That’s the whole point.

“Layla wants to impress and be good especially at school.

“She loves to impress the teachers and be helpful. One of her biggest fears is letting others down.

“But when she gets home after school she releases all that energy, it’s a massive outburst.

“She does not sleep, she never has done.

“But we’re being told she doesn’t meet the criteria and we are absolutely devastated.

“We are at our wit’s end with regards to how much we can help Layla.

“It’s been three years now and we have got nowhere with it.

“She’s struggling and she’s going to middle school soon.

“We are at a point that we can’t help her and there’s no guidance or help.

“Our GP at Middlestown Medical Centre has been so good, she is so sympathetic with our situation, but her hands are tied.”

Meanwhile, Layla’s father is going through an ADHD assessment after he recognised some of the symptoms in Layla mirrored his own behaviour.

Despite a lengthy waiting list, Lucia says his access to help has been much more smoother.

“It’s a nightmare to get children assessed in Wakefield and it shouldn’t be like that,” Lucia said.

“I’ve had a lot of parents text me saying they understand what we’re going through because it’s been the same for them. Some have said it’s taken six years.

“I know there’s a backlog from Covid, but we have to fight tooth and nail just to get a letter of response.

“I’ve joined ADHD support groups to get a feel of how to deal with this. Everybody is the same and have been waiting years, so lots are having to go private and pay for it.

“I never realised it was so hard to get a referral, you feel like you’re in no-mans land.

“I do not want her struggling throughout school when I know she has massive potential to excel. She is just wired differently.

“Without the diagnosis, we can’t access any support.”

So far the family have managed to attract around £1,000 from well wishers, but have set a target of £2,000.

After an initial assessment, and in the likelihood of Layla being diagnosed with ADHD, they will need to experiment various medications which will cost the family further, and much more than drugs readily available on an NHS prescription.