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SA’s first children’s book on ADHD launched

Kids busy reading books
  • Nov 21
  • Tags ADHD, Prof Renata Schoeman, Neuroleadership


SA’s first children’s book on ADHD launched
SA’s first children’s book on ADHD launched [Image credit: Claire Greenspan Photography]

The book, All of these things are important to me, is the first fictional book about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) launched in South Africa. With 1 in 20 children and an estimated 1 million South African adults suffering from ADHD, the book is aimed at creating awareness for early detection and intervention.

Illustrated by David Griessel, the book is co-written by psychiatrist, Prof Renata Schoeman, Senior Lecturer in Neuroleadership at USB, and celebrated author Refiloe Moahloli, co-author of the South African management guidelines for ADHD.

The book explores the adventurous life of Zee using a short and colourful narrative in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, and Sesotho. Through its captivating storytelling, the story follows how a child with ADHD perceives and lives in the world.

David Griessel, illustrator ADHD
Illustrator David Griessel

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 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.”

Prof 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 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.

SA’s first book launched on ADHD for children
Prof Renata Schoeman, co-writer, and illustrator David Griessel, with SA’s first book launched on ADHD for children.

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 Foundation trains teachers and caregivers and upskill NGOs 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’ve launched in October 2019, and plan to be operational from early 2020.

The book is available for R100 from the Foundation ([email protected]) and via sponsorships. It will also be donated to schools and public libraries to broaden the reach and awareness.

Prof Renata Schoeman is a psychiatrist with special interests in cognition (disorders affecting attention, concentration, learning and memory – such as ADHD), eating disorders, mood disorders and anxiety disorders.  She is also an Associate Professor in Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch’s Business School (USB) and Convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) Special Interest Group for ADHD.

Refiloe Moahloli is a children’s book author.  Her bestselling debut ‘How Many Ways Can You Say Hello?’ was published in 2017 by Penguin Random House and has been incorporated in the Gauteng Department of Education’s catalogue. She has a commerce background and experience working in sales, marketing and bid management.

David Griessel from Bloemfontein holds a BA in Fine Arts from the University of The Free and is a full-time artist and picture book illustrator. In 2015 he relocated to Cape Town, where he currently lives a freelance lifestyle and regularly exhibits.  He has exhibited at many galleries in South Africa and also in France during an art residency at Draw International in Caylus.

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