ADHD in South Africa. It’s Not Just An American Thing.

Update: Here’s my international ADHD support group page which includes a South African ADHD support group organization with multiple chapters, ADHASA Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Association of Southern Africa for Children and Adults

Here’s an article on a study that replicated an ADHD study conducted in Norway, with children from the Limpopo province in the Republic of South Africa. Moment-to-moment dynamics of ADHD behaviour in South African children. Overall, the results replicated the findings from Norway.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study makes a strong case for ADHD as a basic, neurobehavioural disorder, not a cultural phenomenon, by replicating findings from a wealthy Western country in a poor province of a developing country. The results were, generally, in line with predictions from the dynamic developmental theory of ADHD by indicating that reinforcers were less efficient in the ADHD group than in the non-ADHD group. Finally, the results substantiated ADHD-related variability as an etiologically important characteristic of ADHD behaviour.

Some more ammunition to use when someone claims that ADHD is just “a made up American disease”

20 thoughts on “ADHD in South Africa. It’s Not Just An American Thing.”

  1. I am looking for books on ADD in Adults (particularly one by Margaret Weiss – ADHD in Adulthood: A Guide to current Theory, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Does anyone know where i can get it (or others) without having to wait for them to ship from overseas

  2. Hi ADHD remains a challenge particularly amongst South African in rural schools and it is so difficult to manage and rehabilitate the child. have you planned some workshops that will train Occupational Therapist and remedial teachers as to how to deal with this children. Are there perhaps some research conducted on ADHD amongst African and also to establish the causes. Thank you. Alpheus

  3. I’m working at a school with ADHD children. I attended many workshops&conferences and are now doing my honnours degree in education (learner support since ADHD are commonly associated with a variety of “learning problems” and universities do not offer remedial courses anymore). I also want to know why there’s so little said and written on the topic of ADHD related to our rural children. I consider doing research on this specific topic. I have numerous theories about why rural children are overseen when it comes to management and rehabilitation of ADHD. Thank you Alpheus for your interest in the topic and trying to help the rural youth. We need more teachers like you!!Try to make contact with ADHASA. They can offer a lot of support.

  4. Hi Elsie, I’d be interesting in hearing what you think some of the reasons are why ADHD is ignored in rural areas.

  5. Hi Pete, I also consulted with my domestic worker (sesotho lady who comes from a rural area in Gauteng, South Africa). Remember it’s only my thoughts and I still need to conduct research to verify my theories. The main factor according to me is lack of finances. These people still suffer the consequences that apartheid brought with it. Because of it there’s poverty from generation to generation and with it comes lack of proper education and lack of knowledge (for teachers and parents). The training of teachers and curriculums need to be revised. The people are so poor that they cannot afford doctors to diagnose these kids and will not be able to afford medication or special schools.Government Schools can still manipulate waiting lists. Government hospitals provides Ritalin, but sometimes they need other medication which is extremely costly. The rural people are used to life threatening diseases like TB&HIV/Aids and therefor ADHD can be seen as not important since it’s not life threatening.

  6. wow, thats too bad, especially when you consider untreated ADHD is more likely to result in higher rates of impulsive unsafe sex, teen pregnancies, self medicating through illegal drugs and alcohol. I think in South Africa there’s probably a higher likelyhood of getting HIV/Aids because the higher probability of unsafe sex and illegal drug use to self medicate ADHD and the comorbid conditions associated with ADHD like depression and anxiety.

    AND ADHD is 80% genetic so that’s also passed on from generation to generation.

    In terms of ADHD meds ritalin requires people who have a medical condition that makes them forgetful, impulsive, time blind, disorganized, inattentive, and easily distractable to remember to take Medication 3 times daily everyday. Ideally the govt should cover long term ADHD medication but here in my province of BC govt doesn’t do that, but govts of Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan do

    So ignoring ADHD might be very expensive for individuals and the South African government in human and financial terms

  7. Thank you Pete. It is very valuable insight and I will definitely visit your site more often!

  8. Renette churchill

    I am an adult that’s ADHD and unfortunately currently I’ve picked up Depression as well as an phobia…. My doctor has garenteed me that it is just a phase and I will need treatment for the depression but the phobia is something I need to work through ( have huge issues with swimming!!, can’t even watch it on tv without getting a feeling of drowning!!)

    I want to know if there are any support groups in the Johannesburg region. I feel like a vampire! Being all alone and not able to talk with a like minded person!! HELP!! Please!!

  9. my 19 year old son needs meds for ADHD – where do we go for proper help?

  10. Gertrude Appollis

    Hi my name is Gertrude Appollis. I am from Cape Town Bellville South. My son has all the symtoms of ADHD. The school has send him to the state doctor. He has emotional problems, can’t concentrate .complete tasks and he is hyper and aso has sleeping problems! He breaks everyting he needs to do homework! He even lost clothes and shoes at school! My condition wasn’t picked up those years! I have also learned that my son and I tend to forget important things and find it difficult to sit still! There is no support groups in Cape Town and we can’t afford medical aid! Why do other organisations get help from goverments? ADHD kids parents is also paying tax so why don’t the goverment see our childrens needs! I’m tired of crying because my son and I don understand each other and everybody has a problem with him! His father doesn’t want to accept it! I’m trying my best but I can’t do it alone anymore. He has to repeat GR2! Everyone judge him because no one understand him! The state doctor is never available!! I need help before I end up in a mental hospital!!! Anyone please help me!

  11. Hi Gertrude,

    I don’t know the adhd situation in South Africa but in N. America, many medical prof’s aren’t trained on adhd, govts media and health system often don’t take adhd seriously and few adults with adhd or parents of adhd kids are rarely willing to do things to show to those 3 institutions adhd is real and a real problem and it needs resources.

    Maybe check with other SA adhd org’s outside your city if they know of local resources or ask at online adhd forums ie or any large non adhd mental health organizations, good luck

  12. E.K Ace Maema

    Hi Pete Quily, I stay in Soweto South Africa, and I belong to ADHASA. I was searching for current research on ADHD, particularly classroom intervention strategies for teachers dealing with ADHD learners were this disorder is so prevalent in the townships and there is minimal awareness. I have recently registered for my PhD at Unisa. I intend coming up with an Educational programme to assist township teachers to gain coping skills when dealing with ADHD learners.

    I would truly appreciate you help me with current articles (2014/2015) so I can put a water-tight proposal to make a mark for my supervisor.

    Best wishes

  13. There is hope for these children it is called tender loving care. As a parent who walked this path only to find out that my son does not have ADHD but a hearing problem where the back ground noises are louder to him then the teachers voice. What a path to walk and to try and connect the dots and find understanding. One can only talk if they themselves have walked that road. I recall feeling lost, hopeless. Thats when I became determined to help my son the best I can. A parent on a mission is a dangerous thing. I did not give up.

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