Call for ADHD support after son's death

One in 10 children in Northern Ireland are affected by ADHD - and the number has been significantly on the rise in recent years.

Michael Napier’s life was at times a long lonely journey.

After a 25-year struggle with attention deficit disorder his battle came to an end in 2009, when he died en route to France on a family holiday.

Drink and drugs had taken their toll.

Michael’s parents Moira and James told UTV his story is a tragedy of a child who never got the help he cried out for.

“His speech became quite stuttered, he found it difficult to enunciate clearly and there were worrying aspects like that,” said Moira.

“Although his motor coordination was superb - he was a marvelous footballer, cricketer, anything like that - he couldn’t seem to grapple with things that required close attention.”

The warning signs were spotted by Michael’s parents when he was two months old, but no diagnoses was offered until he was 16.

Moira continued: “Things really began to go downhill when he was about 14 or 15. He really didn’t enjoy school and I don’t think some of his teachers enjoyed having him there. He was outspoken because he couldn’t see the cause and effect of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, he was liable to get into scraps and scrapes and he became increasingly disillusioned.”

ADD is just one branch of the condition ADHD, which affects around 30,000 children in NI - about 10% of the school population

Symptoms can include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour.

The Napier family’s experiences have now been captured in a book James has written, and they are keen to keep Michael’s memory alive while equipping other families to deal with their struggles.

James said: “I certainly remember him without the ADD label - there are certain times when it comes back, but I remember him without that.”

Moira added: “I remember his smile”.