Chief Executive Officer of the ADHA Foundation,Mary Fullerton Speaks during an interview at her office,De Verteuil Street, Woodbrook yesterday.

Bavita Gopaulchan

Distance learning has presented a unique challenge to all students across Trinidad and Tobago but, for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), there is added pressure causing some to fall behind on their schoolwork.

When a phone, a couch, toys and siblings are added to their learning space, focusing becomes even more difficult for children with ADHD.

As Mary Fullerton, Chief Executive Officer of the ADHD Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago explains, it is like having a mind as fast as a Ferrari with bicycle brakes.

“For the child with ADHD, we did a small survey and you got conflicting results. For some parents, they were happy because their children were not being bullied in school and they were able to contain them in an environment where they can help the child learn at their pace”, Fullerton said during an interview with Guardian Media yesterday.

“But then, you have other parents saying the children are regressing, they are not doing well and the parents themselves cannot cope because if you have two and three children at home plus you have to work from home then, that is difficult”, she furthermore stated.

Fullerton said, however, some parents have been finding innovative ways to assist their ADHD children. She referred to a video she came across on social media recently.

“I saw a parent went outside and on the ground mark out, you know how you use to play hopscotch and so but instead of that she put boxes and the Math sums and she was working it out on the ground”, she said.

Fullerton added, “You also have children now who can run and learn their spelling so they do not have to sit quietly and do it, they will be able to retain and have fun”.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many inconveniences, Fullerton believes parents should use their work-from-home time to carefully observe their children’s behaviour for symptoms of ADHD.

“You have to remember that for ADHD there is a spectrum so if I am diagnosed with ADHD, I might be different from you so again each child is unique”, she noted.

According to her, “what they will have to do is observe, be kind to the child because the child will behave in such a hyperactive way but there are other things that will cause them to show signs such as speaking out of turn or even lying”.

The most important point she wants parents to remember is “patience”. This she explained is pivotal and advised parents to take lots of self-care.

“They have to know how to manage their own anxiety so find a space where they can recoup and then deal with the children”, she advised.

In the last few months, Fullerton admitted she has been receiving many calls from parents, especially young parents, who have been finding it difficult to help their ADHD children.

She indicated that the foundation has been trying to do its part but has been dealing with its own setbacks.

“The only thing we can do right now is through phone calls and they do call at 7 in the morning and when they cannot sleep at night, they are calling looking for a solution”, according to her.

She further lamented, “I feel like a hypocrite because I can’t help them, I cannot say come in here, let us look at the child and do some therapy to see what can work or what cannot work”.

Fullerton is hoping one day, the foundation will be able to find a space where it will be able to provide therapy for children and adults with ADHD.