Research finds Awareness Campaigns Vital in Fight Against ADHD in Children
With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affecting six to 10 percent of schoolchildren, the findings of a doctoral study stress the importance of awareness campaigns to achieve early diagnosis and treatment in the hope of preventing long-term psychiatric disorders.
The study was done by Dr Maria Mokobane and resulted in her being awarded a PhD in Behavioural Medicine.
Mokobane’s thesis was titled: Neuropsychological Deficits in Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Comparing Inattention, Hyperactivity/Impulsivity and Combined Presentations.
ADHD is regarded as a neurodevelopmental disorder as it tends to be chronic and due to neurobiological factors, the disorder involves a significant disturbance in the acquisition of necessary skills for development. Mokobane’s study sought to understand whether children with ADHD are also depressed. She also looked at whether children with ADHD symptoms of inattentive, hyperactivity, impulsivity or combined presentations differ in fine motor functioning, behavioural planning functions and in response inhibition.
Her study was conducted in the Aganang Municipality and the Fetakgomo-Greater Tubatse Local Municipality in the Limpopo province with her sample involving learners in Grade 1 to Grade 7 (aged between six and 14) in six primary schools. A total of 4 200 children completed the Disruptive Behaviour Disorders Rating Scale and from this a total of 320 were selected, 160 with ADHD (80 boys and 80 girls) and 160 without ADHD (80 boys and 80 girls).
Through a number of neurological assessments, Mokobane found that children with ADHD did not display symptoms of depression. The prevalence of fine motor functioning problems was found in children with ADHD (predominantly inattentive subtype) and ADHD (combined subtype). Most of these motor problems lead to difficulties in everyday living, including academic performance, sport, play and self-esteem. Poor motor skills reflect in daily tasks such as dressing, riding a bicycle, feeding and writing. These deficits severely impact on a child’s development and may result in inhibited social interaction, poor academic functioning and poor performance in sport activities.
Said Mokobane: ‘The study was conducted in schools based in deep rural villages where researchers hardly conduct research. The schools, teachers and learners alike were thankful for the study. I intend to join hands with non-governmental organisations and community based organisations that advocate for the interests of children in general and create an awareness of the disorder in rural communities.’
Mokobane currently lives in the Limpopo province. ‘I love reading, travelling and meeting new people and also dressing well. I am married and blessed with a daughter and a son. We are a family that loves education - my husband is also doing his PhD.
‘When we were building our house, we completed a room dedicated for books and study facilities before the kitchen was built! One of my brothers was so surprised by this that he joked with my three sisters that some people’s priorities were confused. How could one prefer a library/study room over a kitchen?’
Words: MaryAnn Francis
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan