Niall, young carer

Niall has two brothers and a sister who each have complex disabilities including autism, ADHD and a congenital heart defect.

Ten-year-old Niall has ADHD himself but helps his mum and dad, Gary and Alison, in caring for his siblings.

Gary, a full-time carer, says, “They all have issues, but in different ways. Niall has ADHD, but he’s a very smart kid – he’s top of the class in maths.
He supports us 100%. We could be doing homework with the children and if he’s finished his he’ll help his brother go on the potty or get in his pyjamas. He’s always on hand to do something, or if we need help cleaning up the house. The other kids are too young and have no sense of tidying up. They try to help but his sister is so introverted with ADHD that we’re lucky to get her out of her bedroom. He is such a good support and loves his brothers and sister.”

One year ago, the family were signposted to Action for Children through their social worker and since then Niall has been supported by Young Carers Belfast. He’s been on day trips and short breaks and met other young people in similar situations.

The breaks give Niall time to experience being himself and have given him self-worth.
Gary, Niall’s dad

“It can be quite overwhelming for him because he’s the child who helps out and my time is taken up with the other children, one of whom has attachment issues with me. My wife works full time and does homework and dinners when she gets home, so Niall can get unintentionally overlooked. He yearns for that attention and we give him as much as we can but it’s difficult with the other kids.

“It’s good for him to get out and do his own stuff. It’s great for his positive mental well-being. He really enjoyed the weekend away and has made friends. He loves meeting up with the other young carers and doing activities. I think he sees that he’s not alone and there are people in similar roles, of various degrees.”

“As a family we can’t praise Action for Children enough.”

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