Local group aims to help people with ADHD

Excalibur ADHD Association offers short programming for kids and adults living with ADHD and a customized course for caretakers, spouses, teachers, the people supporting the people with ADHD. In 2018 the Dartmouth Tribune published a story about Excalibur, but it is no longer available online. Here are excerpts from that story written by me last Spring. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the remainder of your day.

When Maya Warnock started the Excalibur After School Society in March 2001 she had no idea she would soon educate herself to serve a particular population of children – children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

“By the second year we had eight children, all diagnosed with ADHD,” said Warnock.

Realizing there were few, if any, spaces or programs in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) designed specifically for this population – a space where each child would be empowered to flourish and have fun – she started to read.

With the after-school program in full swing, Warnock completed her education to include a BA in Psychology from Mount Saint Vincent University and an MBA from St. Mary’s University. More importantly, she spent time at an ADHD Clinic in Helsinki, Finland to observe their programs and interactions.

According to Warnock, Finland is considered to have developed a progressive philosophy and effective programming for people with ADHD.

Children in Finland are less likely to be prescribed medications for ADHD compared to other countries, according to a 2017 article published in the Social History of Medicine.

In Finland “ADHD is seen as merely an ‘everyday educational challenge’, rather than a pathology” writes Matthew Smith in his article Hyperactive around the world? The History of ADHD from a Global Perspective, published by Oxford University Press.

When Warnock returned to Nova Scotia from Finland she quickly adapted what she learned and assembled a manual based on the information she gathered. In her words, Warnock wanted to offer “children, youth and adults a quality experience to enhance their academic, social and recreational growth.” The components of the 69-page manual include, for example, the basics of hyperactivity, tools to help communicate with children experiencing symptoms of ADHD and notes on how to encourage positive behaviour.

Also on the agenda is how to set limits, reward children and ideas to use time-outs and/or downtime effectively. Discussions include everything from dealing with a child’s behaviour in public settings to tips for working with a child’s school or daycare. More importantly, the 15-hour course Warnock developed would allow for discussion and a place to share ideas. The course is called POP or Preschool Over-Activity Program.

Warnock said several times during the interview that she could not have completed the project without a top-notch team of professionals and people experienced in the field, who advised her along the way.

By 2012 the Board of Directors of the Excalibur After-School Society changed the name to Excalibur ADHD Association, by now growing their sites to include teenagers and adults with ADHD. A support group for parents with children with ADHD, a Saturday morning camp for 6 to 12-year old children, support groups for adults with ADHD organized in Dartmouth, Halifax and Bedford, and a support group for parents of youth with ADHD were soon established.

Warnock said the 15-hour POP course is for adults who want to be sure their interactions with children with ADHD are as “fulfilling” as they can be.

“Knowledge is the key,” said Warnock.

While support groups are free, the POP course is not. Excalibur ADHD Association is a non-profit. However, as a family development or professional development opportunity, the course is a deal at $70 for materials and 15-hours of class time (in person in Dartmouth or by Skype). For more information visit excaliburadhd.org or call 902-461-1761.

PHOTO Maya Warnock is the founder and President of Excalibur ADHD Association located in Dartmouth and serving HRM. Warnock says she’s had incredible support, including from her husband Stephen Warnock, both pictured here while on vacation. PHOTO Contributed by Excalibur ADHD Association.