Book helps to explain ADHD

2019-11-26 06:00
The book was available at the Nasdaq art auction recently.PHOTO: claire greenspan photography

The book was available at the Nasdaq art auction recently.PHOTO: claire greenspan photography

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We all know the story of Goldilocks and the three bears from our childhood years but have you ever considered why Goldilocks got herself into so much (potential) trouble?

The Goldilocks and the Bear Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation (NPO), has just launched their new book All of these things are important to me – the first fictional story about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in South Africa.

“At least 20 children in South Africa suffers from ADHD, a disorder marked by symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The foundation provides free ADHD and mental health screening to children in disadvantaged communities,” says Prof Renata Schoeman, co-founder of the foundation.

Going back to the story of Goldilocks; maybe she struggled with inattentiveness, absent-mindedly wandered off into the woods, and then impulsively entered a strange house.

And with her usual hyperactive way, started climbing on furniture ... She was lucky, but thousands of other kids aren’t.

“Although mental health clinics exist in the public sector, children with ADHD often never reach this point of diagnosis and treatment due to a lack of awareness and knowledge in their communities.

“They are never screened for ADHD, and may be labelled as naughty, or ‘stupid’, or just silently fall out of the educational system and only come to our attention when absorbed in the criminal justice system. These children never have the opportunity to flourish,” Schoeman says.

According to her, the foundation aims to remove mental health barriers to education.

“We visit underprivileged schools where we provide non-profit (free) screening for ADHD, anxiety, depression, visual and hearing problems, and developmental problems to the children.

This ensures early referral, diagnosis and treatment, and improve the quality of life of these children,” she says.

In South Africa, there is a huge problem in identifying children with mental health problems due to lack of resources in the departments of health and education.

“Our intervention has a positive ripple effect by helping to keep children in schools and progress educationally, which enhances their chances of securing work and keeping away from vices.

“During the past two years, the foundation has been screening children for mental health disorders (such as ADHD, depression and anxiety), other learning disorders, and health-related problems (such as eye- and ear problems) in the Metro North and Metro East educational districts in the Western Cape,” Schoeman says.

In addition to screening at schools, they have recently opened a screening centre at Tygerberg Hospital and is currently also negotiating to secure a space for another screening centre at Badisa in Bellville.

As many conditions can “mimic” as ADHD or accompany it as co-morbid conditions – such as visual or auditory problems – the foundation is faced with a situation where the public sector, children in underprivileged areas where they are working in, have no access to these facilities.

Or where there are indeed facilities, children need to wait for months until they can be assisted.

“We, therefore, recruited also pro bono volunteers (optometrists, audiologists, and educational psychologists) to assist us. However, we also need to buy in services from professionals. We are completely dependent on fundraising initiatives and donors.

“We also strongly focus on raising awareness and educating parents, teachers and the communities about ADHD and other mental health conditions. We provide parental guidance meetings, as well as teacher training. We also believe that research is crucial and have completed a study last year analysing the data from our first year of operations, We received the excellence award for community service last year,” she says.

The book aims to increase awareness and educate communities about ADHD (and related mental health disorders).

The intent is that a parent or teacher should read the story with the child and use the scientific content that follows as a resource to answer the child’s and their own questions about ADHD.

The book is written in English, and has been translated into Afrikaans and isiXhosa, isiZulu and Sesotho to afford as many children as possible, the opportunity to hear the story in their mother tongue.

They will understand it and know they are understood when reading the story in their mother tongue.

The book launch is on Wednesday 4 December at De Oude Social Café in Pandoer Street in Welgemoed from 18:00 until 20:00.

Tickets cost R230 per person and include a signed copy of the book, as well as a signature Goldilocks and the Bear Foundation pizza and milkshake (this can be substituted for beer or wine).

The book costs R100 if you are not attending the launch.

V Email for more information.


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