Using theatre to change perceptions about ADHD

Rhys Warrington and Molly Lopresti - WiLd! - Photo by Brian Slater DSC_7558 
04 Jul 2016 13:16:47.903

Researchers into mental health at The University of Nottingham have helped to shape a new play for children. WiLd!, will be performed at Nottingham Lakeside Arts this week.

It tells the story of Billy - a boy living with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

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Billy is coming to terms with his parents’ separation, changing relationships at school, and some bees he wants to stop swarming.

It’s been written for children aged eight as well as their teachers and parents and involves music, comedy and a trampoline.

When writer Evan Placey was tasked with getting into the head of his principle character he sought the expertise of University of Nottingham Professor David Daley- an expert in Psychological Intervention and Behaviour Change who also leads CANDAL (Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders Across the Lifespan).

CANDAL was established as an Institute of Mental Health Centre of Excellence in 2012. It focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, recognising a growing awareness of the conditions but also an unmet need to understand symptoms and treatment across the lifespan rather than in children or adults in isolation. 

The theatre company involved Professor Daley in workshops, along with a boy with ADHD and group of adults with ADHD, to get their views and insight.Professor Daley said: “This is my first time being involved in the development of a play. I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest but it has been a really dynamic and fun experience.

“Although our work has informed the production it is not a play about research – it is about the story and how the character, and perhaps others with ADHD, view the world as they do. I am hoping that after watching it adults will come away with a different perception of ADHD and a greater understanding of the child behind the condition which is often a stark contrast to the portrayal of ADHD in the media. “

For children I hope that they will have a greater understanding about ADHD and greater acceptance for some of the ADHD type behaviours that some of the children in their school may exhibit.”

The play, written in partnership with tutti frutti productions, and funded by the Wellcome Trust, will be shown at Nottingham Lakeside Arts on Sunday 10 July.

For more information or tickets visit Nottingham Lakeside Arts

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK for research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

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