Approximately 5% of children in South Africa suffers with ADHD. The core triad of ADHD is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning. This is accompanied by associated behavioural, cognitive, emotional and social problems which can lead to school or work-related and interpersonal difficulties.
- Inattention manifests behaviourally in ADHD as difficulty sustaining focus, wandering off tasks, lacking persistence, paralysing procrastination, poor time management, inefficiency, and being disorganized.
- Hyperactivity refers to excessive motor activity when it is not appropriate, excessive fidgeting, tapping, or talkativeness.
- Impulsivity may manifest as social intrusiveness, a low frustration tolerance, mood lability and losing one’s temper, making important decisions without consideration of long-term consequences, and addictive behaviours.
Most children present with one or more comorbid conditions, such as learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, tics disorder or Tourette’s syndrome, and substance abuse. Educational attainment is negatively affected by ADHD – children with ADHD complete on average two years less formal schooling than children without ADHD. ADHD also causes significant personal, interpersonal and social burdens, impacting negatively on self-esteem, happiness, and overall quality of life.
Improved outcomes are possible to achieve if children suffering from ADHD are diagnosed as such, and receive multi-modal intervention – which would include psychopharmacological interventions, behavioural interventions, and support.