~ Fighting for Your Freedom from Addiction & Crime ~

Helen R

PSYCHIATRIST SPECIALISING IN ADHD

DIAGNOSED ADHD AND 2 SONS BOTH DIAGNOSED  ADHD/ASD

Dr Helen Read has retired as the Lead Consultant for ADHD at a large London NHS Trust in 2020. She has specialist expertise in ADHD, ASD and other neurodevelopmental conditions.

Dr. Read is a qualified psychotherapist and also an experienced general adult psychiatrist, she is passionate about the amount of ADHD people in prison and also has special interests in personality disorders, learning disabilities, psychotherapy, women’s mental health and eating disorders.

She has lived experience of ADHD/ASD – both her adult and young sons have both these conditions.

Her personal journey started with a lifelong feeling of not fitting in. For many years she assumed that her difficulties with authority, impulsivity and risk taking came from her unhappy childhood. She sought answers through personal therapy and then completing psychotherapy training across a number of different modalities, including Family Therapy and Cognitive Analytical Therapy training. After some years, she became disappointed with the results of therapy, both for herself and for many of her patients. It seemed that all the hard work and talking didn’t seem to bring the much hoped for change.

At the same time, her eldest son, then aged 3, was diagnosed with ASD. This was shattering at the time, as like most of us, her associations with neuro diversity were very negative. Fortunately, this provided her the motivation to learn as much as possible about neurodevelopmental issues. She was particularly interested in how they affect high functioning people, who she realised often have many of the same auditory processing, motor, sensory and cognitive issues, but in more subtle forms which they become very clever at masking. She also became aware of the huge benefits of stimulant medication in many of these related difficulties, particularly in improving auditory processing.

The day in 2008, when she tentatively gave her then 11 year old son Ritalin for the first time, changed both their lives forever. His delighted face as he proudly announced “Mum, I can understand what the teachers and the other children are saying” counts as one of the proudest achievements of her life, but tinged with sadness and anger for all the other children and adults who are not able to access this incredible treatment.

This now happy boy has just achieved a 2’1 in Law, and both Mum and he have no doubt that he would have found this incredible achievement difficult or impossible without his medication. Armed with this knowledge, she was able to fight for far earlier ASD/ADHD diagnosis and treatment for her youngest son, who started medication recently aged 8. There has been a very dramatic improvement in his focus, mood and emotions, and for the first time, he is able to focus at school, with improvement across his grades from remedial to above average, but also to enjoy family closeness, bedtime stories and make relationships with other children.

During this time, Dr Read was becoming increasingly aware that many of her general psychiatric and psychotherapy patients also showed signs of underlying ADHD. Many, when questioned, gave heartbreaking accounts of inability to focus in class, problems listening to and understanding others, learning processes, managing moods starting in childhood but going on to a lifetime of disorganisation, inability to focus,mood and emotional problems, often leading to longterm frequent referrals to psychiatric care as the problems became more chronic. Starting ADHD treatment with these often treatment- resistant, long term psychiatric or psychotherapy patients was a revelation. Many were literally cured overnight, and all showed significant improvements. It was impossible to go back to ‘treatment as usual’ and this began the journey which would in time see Dr Read setting up her private practice to help the many, many people across the country who were struggling to get access to NHS ADHD services. They were either on long waiting lists, or worse – had clinicians with little knowledge of different ADHD presentations, dismissing them out of hand, sometimes after years waiting to be seen.

Having been lucky enough to work across many different psychiatric specialties over her 30 year NHS career, Dr Read spent some years as a forensic consultant, working in prisons and managing patients in a medium secure unit. She was interested in the multiple disadvantages that many of the forensic population showed, and seemed to intuitively relate to many of the patients. Since we know that untreated ADHD in children, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, causes behavioural problems, impulsivity and risk taking, problems with authority it is not surprising that many with experience say up to 80% of the young offender population would screen positive for ADHD. And as ever, it is treating the ADHD which makes the difference with this vulnerable population.

The final development was when Dr Read increasingly recognised her own difficulties with authority, meaning that while the NHS recognised her clinical acumen, success with difficult patient groups and hard work, relationships with management tended to be strained.

High functioning people with ADHD generally rely on hyperfocus; in Dr Read’s case this shows as intense interest in people and an instinctive understanding and wish to genuinely help her clients. Her personal and family experience, followed by the dramatic results of treating ADHD in a general psychiatric out patient population, convinced her that there was more work to be done helping ADHD people in trouble with the law.

Having been treated with stimulant medication for a number of years, for a sleep disorder which she now realises should have been recognised as a common comorbidity of ADHD, Dr Read recently took the step of getting her own diagnosis, something most people assumed she had done years ago. So she now has the confirmation she is as ADHD as her clients.

Dr Read now wants to devote the rest of her career to spreading the message, and as part of Headstuff ADHD Liberty is looking forward to helping to bring awareness, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD into the forefront of treatment for young offenders and other disadvantaged groups.

Helen R

PSYCHIATRIST SPECIALISING IN ADHD

DIAGNOSED ADHD AND 2 SONS BOTH DIAGNOSED  ADHD/ASD

Dr Helen Read has retired as the Lead Consultant for ADHD at a large London NHS Trust in 2020. She has specialist expertise in ADHD, ASD and other neurodevelopmental conditions.

Dr. Read is a qualified psychotherapist and also an experienced general adult psychiatrist, with special interests in forensic psychiatry, personality disorders, learning disabilities, psychotherapy, women’s mental health and eating disorders.

She has lived experience of ADHD/ASD – both her adult and young sons have both these conditions.

Her personal journey started with a lifelong feeling of not fitting in. For many years she assumed that her difficulties with authority, impulsivity and risk taking came from her unhappy childhood. She sought answers through personal therapy and then completing psychotherapy training across a number of different modalities, including Family Therapy and Cognitive Analytical Therapy training. After some years, she became disappointed with the results of therapy, both for herself and for many of her patients. It seemed that all the hard work and talking didn’t seem to bring the much hoped for change.

At the same time, her eldest son, then aged 3, was diagnosed with ASD. This was shattering at the time, as like most of us, her associations with neuro diversity were very negative. Fortunately, this provided her the motivation to learn as much as possible about neurodevelopmental issues. She was particularly interested in how they affect high functioning people, who she realised often have many of the same auditory processing, motor, sensory and cognitive issues, but in more subtle forms which they become very clever at masking. She also became aware of the huge benefits of stimulant medication in many of these related difficulties, particularly in improving auditory processing.

The day in 2008, when she tentatively gave her then 11 year old son Ritalin for the first time, changed both their lives forever. His delighted face as he proudly announced “Mum, I can understand what the teachers and the other children are saying” counts as one of the proudest achievements of her life, but tinged with sadness and anger for all the other children and adults who are not able to access this incredible treatment.

This now happy boy has just achieved a 2’1 in Law, and both Mum and he have no doubt that he would have found this incredible achievement difficult or impossible without his medication. Armed with this knowledge, she was able to fight for far earlier ASD/ADHD diagnosis and treatment for her youngest son, who started medication recently aged 8. There has been a very dramatic improvement in his focus, mood and emotions, and for the first time, he is able to focus at school, with improvement across his grades from remedial to above average, but also to enjoy family closeness, bedtime stories and make relationships with other children.

During this time, Dr Read was becoming increasingly aware that many of her general psychiatric and psychotherapy patients also showed signs of underlying ADHD. Many, when questioned, gave heartbreaking accounts of inability to focus in class, problems listening to and understanding others, learning processes, managing moods starting in childhood but going on to a lifetime of disorganisation, inability to focus,mood and emotional problems, often leading to longterm frequent referrals to psychiatric care as the problems became more chronic. Starting ADHD treatment with these often treatment- resistant, long term psychiatric or psychotherapy patients was a revelation. Many were literally cured overnight, and all showed significant improvements. It was impossible to go back to ‘treatment as usual’ and this began the journey which would in time see Dr Read setting up her private practice to help the many, many people across the country who were struggling to get access to NHS ADHD services. They were either on long waiting lists, or worse – had clinicians with little knowledge of different ADHD presentations, dismissing them out of hand, sometimes after years waiting to be seen.

Having been lucky enough to work across many different psychiatric specialties over her 30 year NHS career, Dr Read spent some years as a forensic consultant, working in prisons and managing patients in a medium secure unit. She was interested in the multiple disadvantages that many of the forensic population showed, and seemed to intuitively relate to many of the patients. Since we know that untreated ADHD in children, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, causes behavioural problems, impulsivity and risk taking, problems with authority it is not surprising that many with experience say up to 80% of the young offender population would screen positive for ADHD. And as ever, it is treating the ADHD which makes the difference with this vulnerable population.

The final development was when Dr Read increasingly recognised her own difficulties with authority, meaning that while the NHS recognised her clinical acumen, success with difficult patient groups and hard work, relationships with management tended to be strained.

High functioning people with ADHD generally rely on hyperfocus; in Dr Read’s case this shows as intense interest in people and an instinctive understanding and wish to genuinely help her clients. Her personal and family experience, followed by the dramatic results of treating ADHD in a general psychiatric out patient population, convinced her that there was more work to be done helping ADHD people in trouble with the law.

Having been treated with stimulant medication for a number of years, for a sleep disorder which she now realises should have been recognised as a common comorbidity of ADHD, Dr Read recently took the step of getting her own diagnosis, something most people assumed she had done years ago. So she now has the confirmation she is as ADHD as her clients.

Dr Read now wants to devote the rest of her career to spreading the message, and as part of Headstuff ADHD Liberty is looking forward to helping to bring awareness, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD into the forefront of treatment for young offenders and other disadvantaged groups.