Kirshon, now 18, was born three months early after his mum developed pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Although at birth he weighed just 2lb 5ozs, he made quick progress in hospital. But as a toddler difficulties started to appear. Kirshon took a long time to talk, needing speech and language therapy to help, and he began to show signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Children with ADHD tend to be hyperactive and impulsive. They have short attention spans and struggle with self-control and timing. Premature babies are known to be at increased risk of developing the condition.
“Kirshon could never sit still and had no attention span whatsoever,” recalls his dad Keith. “He would get agitated if he was stuck indoors and would run for hours in the park.”
Kirshon’s earliest school experiences were sadly fraught with difficulty. “It was a nightmare,” says Keith. “They used to put him in the library because he disrupted the class.”
After three months of struggling at his first school, Kirshon transferred to a school with stronger special needs provision, making the six-mile journey each day by taxi.
With the support he needed, Kirshon’s behaviour transformed. “His school reports used to make us cry,” says Keith. “He was so kind to his fellow pupils, many of whom had needs far greater than his. He really thrived and was in a mainstream class by the time he left for senior school.”
Kirshon and his sister Kadelia have taken part in a study funded by Action looking at why premature babies have an increased risk of developing ADHD. And Action is continuing to fund new research to help children with ADHD.
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