Co-writer, and illustrator David Griessel, with SA’s first book launched on ADHD for children. Pictures: Supplied

With 1 in 20 children in South Africa suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and an estimated 1 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 Prof Renata Schoeman, a psychiatrist, and the co-author of the South African management guidelines for ADHD, and celebrated 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.

Prof Renata Schoeman, co-writer, and illustrator David Griessel.

“When undiagnosed or not effectively treated, ADHD often sees children being unfairly labelled as naughty, delinquent, unteachable, and as adults, as lazy or incompetent," said Prof Schoeman.

"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.”

Prof Schoeman added that 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 child (ren) 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 child (ren) 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 Prof 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 book is available for R100 from the Foundation ([email protected]) and via sponsorships will be donated to schools and public libraries to broaden the reach and awareness.