Well, well, well. When an issue gets on to Coronation Street, the UK’s longest running soap opera on TV, or The Archers on the radio – then you know that it has made the mainstream. So it was kind of heartwarming in ADHD Awareness month, that ITV have chosen to run with an ADHD storyline.
For those that can’t quite stomach the adverts that need to be waded through to see past episodes, in brief – there is a young boy called Max, who has ADHD. Having watched from the end of Septembrer, the suggestion is that his behaviour deteriorates – which is not in keeping with ADHD, where the traits were always present. But with adult diagnoses now asking for traits to be present only in the last 6 months, let’s not pick nits – especially when hormones, or something at school could exacerbates the problem. However, ADHD is not something you acquire, like glandular fever, but live with all your life.
Back to the story, Kylie has another little girl with her husband David, and finds herself taking her son’s medication after she hits a low point. The echoes of Desperate housewives where Super Mom Lynette of identical twins did the same thing – and became addicted to the medication, taking it instead of giving it to her sons, rings bells.
With Kylie, the story is a little grittier. Caught redhanded by her husband taking her son’s medication, she admits to it on just a few occasions and she starts to frequent the sleazier backdrop of a former council estate where the father Callum of ADHD-child Max lives. Her ex-partner asks. “So what do you want from me?” “Just a bit of whizz”, she says. “Why? To do the hoovering quicker?” he quips.
With the small packet of speed, she begins to behave erratically – shunning her husband and family, running away from them and leaving the house with door slams. “They’re better off without me”. Her self esteem tumbles and there’s a touching moment when her son sees her as she runs for the bus – “Mum’s not leaving us is She?” asks Max.
With Kylie looking increasingly the worse for wear, as the addiction takes hold, she’s back at the council estate pub, hunting down the drug dealer father of her ADHD child – Max.
So far, so accurate. It is clear that Kylie is self-medicating, and we can only hope that the plot takes a sympathetic twist, and Kylie herself perhaps gets diagnosed as an Adult ADHDer. ADHD is highly heritable, in both or one of the parents – so while at the moment the suggestion is that she wants to discover more about her former partner’s issues, the reality is that she appears to be the one exhibiting all the signs.
This could be a real opportunity for the writers to open up the awareness of adult ADHD, something that didn’t officially exist in this country until 2006 – when medication stopped on a child’s 18th birthday and they were left to get on with it. Overnight, children with ADHD were suddenly abandoned, and adults weren’t recognised at all.
As more and more adults come forward after their children are diagnosed, let’s hope the storyline reduces the stigma attached to it – and shows this complicated and often misunderstood “disorder”, or bundle of traits, in a positive light.
Because, with support and perhaps proper prescribed medication – the Kylies and Maxes portrayed, could become the Ann Bancrofts or Bionic Women, Richard Bransons and Michael Phelps of this world. Their people skills, fun loving and creative side could be emphasised, and not the negative draw towards drugs or alcohol.
Let’s hope Corrie comes up trumps.