Northern Beaches ADHD Support Group

Who Are We?



Northern Beaches ADHD Support Group was founded in 2013 by two parents, Vivian Dunstan & Louisa Simmonds.

After having their children diagnosed with ADHD and finding little local support they decided to start a support group themselves.   It was immediately evident by the numbers turning up to the first meetings that they were not alone in needing to find support for the challenges they faced.

In 2015, after moving out of the Northern Beaches area, Louisa stepped away from her role within the group and the group is now organised solely by Vivian.

About Vivian

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I am married with two daughters and live on the Northern Beaches.  My youngest daughter was diagnosed with ADHD (Inattentive) at the age of 14.  Late diagnosis is often a problem for girls with an inattentive diagnosis because teachers and parents often do not pick up on the problem as they do not create any disturbance within the classroom setting.  This is not to say that I hadn’t been trying to get to the bottom of her school difficulties since she began school at the tender age of 4 in the UK.  

After countless tests, assessments, reports and tears down the track, in desperation I turned to homeschooling for Years 4, 5 & 6.  Starting high school in Year 7 proved no more successful in finding the help she required and brought us no nearer to a diagnosis.  I only raised the question of ADHD with a psychologist when I met another parent with a child with ADHD when she was in Year 8 and compared notes!  It is interesting to add that I have a Masters of Teaching (Primary) and admit that during my teacher training I received little to no education on the topic of ADHD.  

Finally getting a diagnosis was somewhat of a relief and many things fell into place and made sense in retrospect.   Most importantly though it meant finally being able to access the professionals and treatments needed to assist her to reach her true potential.  Although finding professionals who specialise in this area and the many co-morbidities of ADHD is no easy task.

Suffering various gut-related health issues and ultimately chronic fatigue syndrome has been an added burden during her life.   Finally, after many years of searching for answers, some success was found by taking a more holistic approach.   Four high schools later and she has now thankfully completed Year 12,  left the school system behind and is forging her path in the adult world whilst still continuing her healing journey.  More details of our health journey can be found at my website – A Gutful of ADHD.

Louisa’s Story

I am married with two children and previously lived on the Northern Beaches. My son was officially diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 12 but prior to that had been diagnosed with Dyslexia and learning difficulties.  Our ADHD journey has been typical.  We first had our son assessed at the age of six leading to his eventual diagnosis six years later.  Our son has no real learning difficulties but he does have co-morbidities of OCD, anxiety disorder, some oppositional defiance disorder as well as depression (bordering on Bipolar). Being a teenager is tough for any child but with these added disorders it is a minefield. For the parents too. We know the statistics of what can happen to our kids if they are not supported and end up making the wrong choices. We have good days and challenging days and I smile when our son says to me, ‘well, you’d hate it if I was boring, Mum,’ but some days I could do without that phone call from school, in all honesty. Our expectations for him will always remain high and we do whatever we can to support him achieve them, but occasionally it seems as though we are taking one step forward and two steps back.