On a mission to help others
This week's interview is about something that many parents are dealing with, or have dealt with when their kids were younger. Or perhaps you are a grandmother to a child with ADHD or some other neuropsychiatric disorder. Then you will find what Lyn Oualah does both interesting and important. But even if you have never got in contact with this, read and learn, because there are still many parents that feel judged, and they ought not to. We are all different and should be treated equally.
Name: Lyn Oualah
Occupation: Specialist parenting coach (teacher, accredited ADHD coach and ASD advisor).
Family: Four children (18 - 25), one of whom had a formal diagnosis of ADHD as a child.
Lives: Just outside Reading (Woodcote), England, for almost 21 years.
You have a business called Redkite Coaching Solutions (www.rkcs.co.uk) where you help to both parents and professionals dealing with children and/or adults that have different needs within the neuropsychiatric field as well as those who do not. Can you tell about the business and what kind of assignments you take on?
My business, RedKite Coaching Solutions, was set up in April 2017. I had previously spent 16 + years with Reading's Youth Offending Service where the principal aim was to prevent further offending. As education/parenting officer, my specific role was to support children (aged 10 - 18 years) and their parents to access and/or maintain whatever education placement was to hand or on offer. I also ran close to 40 Positive Parenting Programmes (Triple P) for the whole of Reading. This post gave me first-hand experience of working with families from all walks of life and professionals from a number of agencies: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Children's Social Care, Schools/Colleges and Police.
RedKite Coaching Solutions (RKCS) provides impartial advice, guidance and encouragement to parents, children or professionals who are looking to do something positive about presenting behavioral or parenting problems. My work is dictated by the needs/wants of the child, parent or professional and can be delivered on a 1:1 basis or in a group setting. It might be a one-off session, anywhere between 8 - 12 sessions as part of a programme or even ongoing weekly coaching/mentoring sessions. Either which way it usually involves unpicking the presenting issues, creating a sense of optimism and purpose and resulting in a commitment to the agreed action plan or action points.
The work typically focuses on: all things ADHD/ASD related, anxiety, mood regulation, routines and boundaries, positive parenting strategies, resilience and well-being, school, safety and safeguarding (child protection), Child to Parent Violence & Abuse (CPVA) not to mention advocacy at meetings.
What is the best bit about having your own business?
I love the fact that I can channel my energies into providing parents with the kind of practical support and guidance that will be of benefit to them. One of my aims is to help parents realise that having a child with special educational needs and/or a "disorder" isn't the end of the world and that all parties can live to tell the tale! Secondly, I encourage parents to acknowledge and appreciate that 'sparkly moments' are still there in abundance, even when the going gets tough.
This is a concept I coined more than 10 years ago. "Sparkly moments" are essentially the smallest of things which make the parents smile. They are the sorts of things that may be unexpected, provide a bit of light relief or give the parent hope that this type of positive behaviour can (and will) happen again. Quite often, the biggest single challenge for parents is in fact to notice them in the first place and then to be sure to celebrate them with the child!
As a teacher and also a mother to a child with ADHD, you have had many years of experience in dealing with these problems. How would you say it has helped you?
My professional life has had a huge influence on my personal life and vice versa. It has been really important to keep up with current research as well as trends/thinking in terms of behaviour management and it has benefitted my professional practice as well as my personal circumstances. I've come to realise there's a lot I can do, in either capacity, but that one person, does not and cannot have sole responsibility for how the child behaves or turns out (with or without ADHD), be they a parent or professional. Moreover, it's a message I really want other parents and professionals to understand and accept.
Even if we know much more today, would you say there are still many prejudices?
Who knows? Either which way, it's vital parents and professionals have access to the right level /kind of support when they need it! It's a shame but parents are always telling me they feel judged and this often prevents them from coming forward yet alone from trying to access services.
You are living and working in the United Kingdom. How far have you come compared to other countries when understanding and helping children with these diagnoses?
We've come a long way, but there's still so much to learn and do, especially when it comes to 'joined-up' thinking and the pooling of resources particularly when there are so many job cuts (as was the case for me in 2017).
Finally, what would be the most important to think about as a parent or a grandparent?
Stay away from the naysayers! Seek out people instead who 'get it' and can give you practical as well as moral support to help you on your parenting journey! You and your child are worth the investment!