SA’s first children’s book on ADHD launched

Professor Renata Schoeman, co-writer, and illustrator David Griessel, with SA's first book launched on ADHD for children, All these things are important to me. Picture: Claire Greenspan Photography

With 1 in 20 children in South Africa suffering from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and an estimated one million South African adults, the book, All of these things are important to me, is the first fictional book launched in South Africa about the condition, aimed at creating awareness for early detection and intervention.

The book, illustrated by David Griessel, is co-written by Professor Renata Schoeman, a psychiatrist, and the co-author of the South African management guidelines for ADHD, and author, Refiloe Moahloli.

The book explores the adventurous life of Zee in a short and colourful narrative in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu and Sesotho, and through its captivating storytelling, explains how a child with ADHD perceives and lives in the world. The second part of the book offers a simple, but accurate explanation of ADHD: what it is, how it is diagnosed and how it is managed. It also offers valuable advice for parents, educators and health care professionals in understanding and managing ADHD.

Professor Schoeman says ADHD is a condition often misdiagnosed, and plagued by myths and misunderstandings, particularly with regard to treatment.

“When undiagnosed or not effectively treated, ADHD often sees children being unfairly labelled as naughty, delinquent, unteachable, and as adults, as lazy or incompetent. It’s important to talk about ADHD and how it hampers educational performance, self-esteem, relationships and productivity. We also need to create awareness about other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse, which can sometimes surface when ADHD is either mistreated or goes undetected.”

Professor Schoeman says the playful narrative of the book was intentional, to ensure that children are entertained, whilst parents use the scientific content as a resource to answer their children’s or even their own, questions about ADHD.

“We wanted to create a resource that would be accessible to as many South Africans as possible, in native languages, and in the voice of a child with which both children, parents and teachers, could resonate.”

“The manner in which ADHD is talked about with a child, can have an enormous impact on their perception of their value in the world. The right books can help, and in South Africa, there are no resources available to guide parents, teachers and carers.

Parenting a child with ADHD can be challenging if one is not equipped but if you seek the right knowledge you can untap the potential of your children and help them to cope with their symptoms better.”

Proceeds from the book will be donated to the Goldilocks and the Bear Foundation, founded by Professor Schoeman and athlete, Nic de Beer, in 2017, which funds and manages the screening of children in underprivileged areas, not only for the early detection and intervention of ADHD, but also other mental health conditions and learning difficulties which are barriers to education.

The foundation trains teachers and caregivers and upskills NGO’s in the early detection of ADHD, and other mental health disorders. To date, they have offered free mental health services to 21 781 children in the Western Cape, and opened an ADHD screening centre at the Tygerberg Hospital earlier this year. They have also expanded to Gauteng where they launched in October 2019, and plan to be operational from early 2020.

The book costs R100 from the foundation (info@gb4adhd.co.za) and, via sponsorships, will be donated to schools and public libraries to broaden the reach and awareness.