By Paige Nash
Lakeside High School alumni Jessica Chiasson has been on a year-long mission to establish a support group for parents with children who have been diagnosed with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This evening she will have the opportunity to witness her mission come to fruition.
ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder of childhood. Children diagnosed with this disorder may experience a range of symptoms such as a short attention span, impulsive behaviors and hyperactivity.
This is personal for Chiasson who has a son that was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 6. Even though he is 13 now, it was a difficult experience for her and her family that came with many challenges.
“We have struggled for years with different schools and at home dealing with his emotional and behavioral needs,” she said. “I felt like I was a terrible mom because I found myself getting so stressed out and overwhelmed that I would lash out at my family and pretty much everyone around me. I felt like I had to fix all his problems and protect him from the negative things people would say about him and I just couldn’t.”
Chiasson found herself going from feeling overwhelmed to depressed and alone.
“I felt like I didn’t have anyone to talk to and that I couldn’t help my child. With every phone call from school, outburst at home, every time I saw a kid make fun of him or when he would tell me they picked on him at school, and judging looks from other parents, I found myself deeper down that hole,” said Chiasson.
That is the reason she wanted to start this group – to help parents and any other family members that have a child that has been diagnosed with ADHD to cope with daily struggles that come along with it.
“I just wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t a clinician, who knew how I felt and who wouldn’t judge me. I didn’t see any kind of group that really offered something like that,” she said. “So, about a year ago I felt like God put it on my heart to start a group myself. I’m lucky I have a husband who is involved and understands and close friends, but I knew there were probably moms or dads who didn’t have that.”
Last September, Chiasson’s son committed self-harm and it was at that moment that she knew she needed to step up and do something.
She said, “I never wanted my family or anyone else to have to go through the pain of losing their child or simply feeling alone with nowhere else to turn. I know God is going to do amazing things with this group and I just want to be the vessel he uses to help these families and their children.”
Parents who are interested in attending meetings can expect to hear from professional clinicians regarding different aspects of ADHD and other diagnoses but will mainly serve as a safe space to voice fears, frustrations, hope and successes with other parents who can relate.
“I want this to be different than just a meeting where someone tells you all the scientific information behind ADHD. More than likely they’ve either done enough research to be a doctor themselves or they have seen several different doctors all saying the same thing,” said Chiasson. “While I do think it’s important to have, this group is offering something you can’t get in the doctor’s office.”
“Finding Hope for ADHD” will be held on the third Wednesday of every month beginning today, August 16, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Broadmoor Baptist Church. The church is located at 4110 Youree Drive in Shreveport – Room 1406A. For parents who need to bring their children along there will be childcare and youth services available for them to attend.
Registration is not required to attend but is encouraged for planning purposes. To sign up visit moorinfo.tv/adhd and follow the steps listed.
Chiasson also has a Facebook page called, “The Village,” that can be used as an additional resource for parents. She will be keeping the page up to date with upcoming meetings and topics of discussion.
“I want to make it clear that I am not a professional and cannot give clinical advice or take the place of a doctor or therapist,” she said. “Everything shared is my personal experience only and what has worked for me. I want families to know they are not alone and that there is hope for the child with ADHD.”