Mother's fears for troubled son

AN anxious mother today revealed fears that her son who has recently been released from his latest prison stretch could re-offend because he suffers from behavioural problems.

AN anxious mother today revealed fears that her son who has recently been released from his latest prison stretch could re-offend because he suffers from behavioural problems.

Mandy Richardson, 45, of Fritton Close, Ipswich, believes her son, Jamie Arnold, suffers from a condition that prison officials have ignored and doctors have failed to diagnose.

Mr Arnold, 25, has regularly been behind bars and inside young offenders' institutes since he was 15 - but his mother is convinced he is not getting the help he needs.

He was released from Blundeston Prison, near Lowestoft, two weeks ago after serving a 33-month sentence for robbery and stealing his brother's car.

But Mrs Richardson claims her son's persistent law breaking is down to behavioural problems and wants him to be tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

She said: “I'm just flabbergasted by how the system works. This happens every time and he's normally back in prison within two weeks of getting out.

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“They say they prepare him for the outside but prison is totally different from out here and he can't get access to the help he needs in there.”

Mr Arnold was diagnosed with aspergers syndrome and conduct disorder as a child but his mother believes that he is unlikely to receive help for ADHD because the disorder doesn't typically present itself during adulthood.

She said: “Because of his age, people won't offer him the help he needs.

“Some of the doctors I have spoken to said that adults don't get ADHD. Some just think it's a myth.”

Mrs Richardson admitted she hasn't given up hope for her son and has been in close contact with the Society for ADHD in Suffolk.

Linda Shepard, founder of the society, said: “Jamie's diagnosis was missed when he was a child and has been missed at every opportunity. Now he has been thrown back on the street.”

Mrs Shepard revealed that guidelines are currently being drawn up by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence that will help professionals diagnose ADHD in both children and adults.

She said: “This confirms that the disorder can present itself among adults. Sufferers don't just wake up on their 16th birthday feeling fine after years of living with it.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Prisoners can expect to receive the same level of care in prison as they would outside.

“When the NHS took over the responsibility for commissioning health services in prisons in 2003, the budget transferred was £118 million.

“Today we are investing £200 million every year in prison health services, and NHS primary care trusts are properly considering prisons as part of their wider communities.”

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What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is the most common childhood-onset behavioural disorder.

Those affected have a greatly reduced ability to maintain attention without being distracted and to control the amount of physical activity appropriate to the situation, often feeling restless and fidgety.

ADHD may be caused by the brain failing to filter the huge amount of stimulation we receive every minute of every day.

An affected child is easily distracted and can't process information at a normal rate.

Usually a parent or close relative also has the condition.

Diet may be a factor with parents claiming that food additives can aggravate hyperactive behaviour.

While their intellect may be normal or advanced, more than half of children with ADHD have specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.

Children with ADHD are also more likely to be depressed, anxious and obsessive, and may have some problems with speech, language and coordination.

Advice and support:

National Attention Disorder Information and Support Service

Tel: 020 8952 2800



Hyperactive Children's Support Group

Tel: 01243 539966



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