SA Journal of Education, Vol 40, No 3 (2020)

Prevalence of ADHD symptoms and their association with learning-related skills in Grade 1 children in South Africa

Monique de Milander, Robert Schall, Elizna de Bruin, Melissa Smuts-Craft


Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) are developmental disorders in children with 3 symptom clusters, namely hyperactivity, attention deficit and impulsivity, and a combination. We investigated the prevalence of the 3 symptom clusters and their association with learning-related skills among children aged 6 to 7 years in Bloemfontein, Free State province, South Africa. The Aptitude Test for School Beginners (ASB) was applied to determine learning-related skills, and the Strength and Weaknesses of ADHD Symptoms Normal Behaviour rating scale (SWAN) was used to determine ADHD symptoms. Data on SWAN scores were available for 390 children, while data on both the SWAN and ASB were available for 345 children (189 girls and 156 boys) with a mean age of 6 years and 8 months. The prevalence of ADHD symptoms was as follows: 74.6% of the children did not fulfil the criteria for ADD/ADHD, 7.7% presented with the combined subtype, 6.7% presented with hyperactivity and impulsiveness, and 11.0% with inattentiveness. The presence of ADHD symptoms had a significant effect p = < 0.05 on reasoning, numerical abilities, gestalt, coordination and memory. We conclude that ADHD symptoms are a significant risk factor for 5 of the 8 learning-related skills in children, namely numerical skills, memory, reasoning, gestalt and coordination.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Monique de Milander -
Robert Schall -
Elizna de Bruin –
Melissa Smuts-Craft –

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