Byline: HELEN RAE
FOR many youngsters, making friends and fitting in with their peer group can be a struggle at the best of times.
But for Rhys Cowens it is even more challenging as he suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - commonly known as ADHD - and verbal dyspraxia.
The 10-year-old has behavioural problems that includes hyperactivity and he suffers from ongoing speech and language difficulties.
Rhys has moderate learning difficulties and has gone to several different schools, but he is now settled and doing well at Percy Hedley School.
Mum Helen, 38, of Glanton, Northumberland, said: "Rhys can be hyperactive and he's quite obsessive as he will keep asking the same questions.
"He's always attention seeking and that can put pressure on his peer group as it's hard to set boundaries, so it's difficult for him to make friends.
"I do have concerns about Rhys' future as I worry that he won't be able to live an individual life and that he will always have to be cared for.
"But he has been making improvements and his speech is a lot clearer since he has started at Percy Hedley School."
ADHD is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It can affect people of any intellectual ability, however, many of those diagnosed also have some form of learning difficulties.
It is estimated that the condition affects 2% to 5% of school-aged children and young people in the UK.
For Rhys things are made even more difficult as he also has the speech disorder, verbal dyspraxia.
Those with verbal dyspraxia have difficulty placing muscles in the correct position to produce words and, although the individual knows what they want to say, they struggle to vocalise it.
"Rhys does have problems with his speech and that can frustrate him," explained Helen, who is married to Gary, 40, an agricultural worker.
"He was born with the condition and he knows what he wants to say but he can't always produce the words.
"I can understand him and the more time you spend with Rhys the better you get to know what he's saying.
"Rhys copes quite well with his conditions as things are hard on a daily basis."
The youngster, who has a sister, Maisi, three, was born at just 24 weeks, weighing just 1lb 14oz. He had an extremely difficult start to life as he was in and out of hospital and needed an operation to fix a problem with his bowel. …