Exhibition: Stories from Carers of ADHD Children

Caring for others in our society is not an unfamiliar virtue in our culture, as the saying goes, “Honour the elderly and the young in other families as we honour those in our own.” Most of us feel ready to go an extra mile in caring for the elderly and children, and yet are likely not aware enough of the caregivers’ stress and needs. This is what our interns discovered in Spring 2021, that caregivers are too busy looking after children and they don’t usually have time to participate in community activities. The lack of personal time in community space could turn into a difficulty to “be themselves” in the same space. In light of this situation, our interns initiated an exhibition entitled “Stories from Carers of ADHD Children ”. Applying storytelling and tour guiding skills, our interns brought before our eyes a lively collective of stories about these carers.

The theme of exhibition was about the carers of children with attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder, who are also a group that is easily misunderstood. While outsiders could be ignorant and confused about the hyperactive conditions of these children, they often blame carers or parents for their “poor parenting” or with worse criticism. However, what are the situations of caring for these children really like? As outsiders, are we unawarely giving pressure to the parents? How can we show our support? By showing carers’ perspectives and experiences, this exhibition aims to increase participants’ awareness about certain disabled groups and to inspire reflection on creating a more inclusive community.

The exhibition functions like a guided tour as a basis, with collected stories from carers contextualised in five real-life scenarios, and with the exhibition divided into areas as different points of attractions. We adopted a multi-sensory and interactive approach in our storytelling, varying to each tour guide’s own interpretation and explanation of the stories. The five exhibited scenarios included “on the streets”, “at school”, “in the park”, “in the household” and “in a child’s room”, which were designed to be creative gaming sessions enacted with visual, auditory, tactile elements. The designed activities included an audio-visual experience of a caregiver in the public space, a creative design session of an ideal and inclusive park, as well as going through an intensive itinerary In the form of Monopoly, all of which encouraged visitors to be empathetic of the carers’ perspective. The exhibition helped caregivers to be mindful of finding a balance between public and personal spaces, expressing both their joys and sorrows when caring for the children.

The two-day exhibition featured sharing sessions about ‘community resources for carers’ and ‘the role of the public in supporting carers’, with guest speakers and caregivers being invited from TALK Foundation Love V Act service centre and “CARE College” of the Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service. Audiences can gain a better understanding of social challenges faced by caregivers and be empathetic of their roles.

Visitors pick up the ‘water snake’ toy, which in Cantonese language figuratively represents the feelings of ‘uncertainty’ of carers when bringing ADHD children out in public space.

Visitors experience simulated situations faced by caregivers in public places and draw their feelings in the form of “sound paintings”.

Children visiting the exhibition create their own ideal parks.

Visitors are playing Monopoly: Caregivers’ Version to experience the intensive daily routine of a caregiver.

After playing a round of Monopoly, players will obtain a score of remaining ‘energy level’ after a day’s itinerary. Through playing the ‘Ambitions Roulette’, participants learned about the carers’ life goals and developed a concept of how much energy is left for them during the day to chase their dreams. This helps understand the mentality of a carer.

Each tablet stores voice recordings of stories told by one to two carers, including their real-life experiences, hard-learned lessons and even confessions.

The exhibition helped the public increase knowledge and understanding about ADHD children and their carers. It raised awareness about special children’s learning needs and issues of carers, to cultivate support and understanding toward this group. Many visitors reflected on their own attitudes towards ADHD children. They learned about the harms that could be caused by stereotypes or criticism, and to approach ADHD children and carers in a more caring and supportive way. There were also carers and family members, who participated in the event, reaching out for help and information regarding their situations.

“On the streets or in the metro, I occasionally encounter people who scream uncontrollably all of a sudden. I usually avoid them as much as possible and only observe from a distance. I hope that I learn to approach children with special needs with more care and consideration.” — Visitor.

“Don’t give up on them. In fact, they are just like ordinary children with few shortcomings. No one is perfect.’ — Visitor

“What we can do is to develop more understanding, caring, empathy and tolerance! In fact, they are no different from other people, they are just like us, as everyone is a unique existence.” — Visitor

“To carers: You guys are awesome! But don’t forget to always take care of yourself and support your peers. I hope there will be more resources for you in the community. P.s. Thank you to the Love V Act service centre and “CARE College” of the Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service!.” — Visitor