Awards given out to recognise kids who do well despite ADHD, and the mentors who help them

SINGAPORE - Joshua Jeremiah Tan, 10, has difficulty concentrating and takes longer to complete tasks than his peers. But having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has not stopped him from dreaming big and achieving much.

The Primary 4 pupil from Chongzheng Primary School, who aspires to be an airforce pilot, has won a number of wushu awards and completed 252 laps, over three days, in a charity swimming marathon organised by Safra last year.

He has also done well in his studies, particularly in science, according to his mother, Mrs Sabrina Evi Wong San, 45.

Lauding her son's commitment, the early childhood educator said: "He is determined to do well so people won't look down on him."

Joshua was one of 10 recipients of the Active, Creative, Energetic (ACE) Awards 2016, which recognises children and teenagers with ADHD who have overcome challenges to realise their potential, as well as mentors who have made a difference in the lives of children with ADHD.

The awards were presented at the opening ceremony of the third Asian Congress on ADHD, held on Thursday (May 26) at the Singapore Expo.

Affecting close to 5 per cent of school-going children worldwide, ADHD is the top mental health condition seen among children who approach Singapore's Child Guidance Clinic at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

The clinic has seen an average of 645 new cases with ADHD a year from 2012 to 2015, with the figure likely to be higher if there are children approaching other clinics to seek help.

A multi-agency programme called Response, Early Intervention and Assessment in Community Mental Health (Reach) was set up in 2007, to improve mental wellbeing of students and identify disorders early. It identifies and provides support to children with ADHD.

Since then, it has helped to improve the rate in which ADHD cases in schools are identified - from five in 2007 to 242 cases in 2015.

Speaking on Reach at the ACE awards, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Education and Communication and Information, said: "Children and teenagers diagnosed with ADHD now have access to intervention earlier than before. This can improve their quality of life, improve school and social adjustment, and give them a greater chance of success in life."

As part of its efforts to create awareness on Internet addiction, IMH has also produced a new guide for parents, educators and counsellors titled, Navigating The Cyberworld With Your Child, which was published earlier this year.

Edited by IMH senior consultant psychiatrist Ong Say How and assistant psychologist Tan Yi Ren, the book covers issues such as how to identify Internet addiction and how to help young people manage future technology.

The book is on sale at all major bookstalls for $22.50, inclusive of GST.

Correction note: The information on Response, Early Intervention and Assessment in Community Mental Health (Reach) has been updated for clarity. The name of the editor of the book Navigating The Cyberworld With Your Child has also been corrected to Ong Say How. We are sorry for the error.