Declaration Guest Blog 1: Ben Foreman, Brentwood

As part of our tour of Declaration we’ve invited audience members we’ve met along the way to share their responses as part of a series of guest blogs.

Our first guest writer is Ben Foreman, who shares his experiences of life with ADHD; growing up with labels, being misunderstood and finding places where you fit in and thrive.

‘I have always had epilepsy and was young when diagnosed with ADHD. It was all quite relatively new, and very few knew or understood its meaning or what it meant. At first I was labelled with just ‘learning difficulties’, and as I struggled through school in hours of detention during and after school, it was clear there was a lot more to my struggles.

In and out of the classroom school was hardest, as some teachers saw me as just quirky and played on my strengths and interests to get me to at least sit still and try to listen to the lesson. Sadly more were not so forgiving especially secondary school!

I became a time bomb, aggressive in and out of school and everyone was included in my explosions – whether physical or mental the breakdown, everyone got their fair bit of my frustrations!

After it coming to light that mainstream education would literally be my death due to excessive bullying, I was given a beam of light! A ‘special school’ where I was with kids my age and surrounded by teachers who wanted me in their lessons and cared on what I thought.

I made it through the last few years of secondary school and out to college, it took a while to find a job that was good for me – which strangely, is how I got to see ‘Declaration’. I was asked if I’d like to see it, they didn’t have to ask me twice, as it’s something sharing a topic I’m more than familiar with!

Declaration was bloody amazing! It hit a few chords for me. There’s a lot I struggle with, and seeing the show made me realise I’m not alone. Seeing this incredible and colourful journey made me feel everything, from a smile to wanting to cry! It was like everything I’ve never been able to express had magically been pulled out for the world to see!

On watching Declaration I also got to see the outside perspective, on what other people must see me as and are left feeling. It’s made me realise how incredible my wife is handling all the hurdles and managing to still be patient while smiling and not killing me!! The people I work with have always been patient and understanding, though I’m sure it’s like ‘The flash’ has just walked in and out again!!

I can’t emphasise this enough, this show needs to be used to teach mainstream teachers and students to help them see and understand what ADHD is and how it effects the individual.

Declaration needs to be shared with everyone! It’s not a cure to a problem, but it’s a good place to start. I come from what I call ‘the misplaced generation’, being bounced from class to class because the teacher just didn’t understand the difference between an ill mannered student or a struggling student. If this show was shown to schools it would be a great start, because the hardest part is being understood. If you haven’t seen declaration get up and go and see it, you won’t regret it –  if it was available on a DVD or audio book it would be among my favourites!’

Ben Foreman, Brentwood