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Mapping and understanding the experiences of support accessed and/or received by young adults with ADHD in Sweden

Conference contribution
Authors Shruti Taneja Johansson
Published in Nordic Network of Disability Research Conference, Copenhagen, May 8-10
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Subject categories Disability research


Numerous studies and reports show that people with disabilities have lower levels of education, are less represented in higher education and less likely to participate in labor markets, in comparison to other young non-disabled people globally. One disability that has received increasing attention in the recent years is ADHD and there is considerable evidence to support that people with ADHD are at a much greater risk for economic, social and health disadvantage. In Sweden, there has been an effort to provide various forms of support to young people with disabilities as a scaffold to entering the higher education and labor market, as these are seen as important markers for full participation in society. While young adults with ADHD are often eligible for services to support them in various aspects of their lives, the existing research is largely framed within a deficit perspective, with a focus on addressing or compensating for the disability. Dominating here is transition to adult care, treatment services, health care services, and special educational need services at university and in adult education. This presentation broadens this discourse and aims to gain a broader nuanced understanding and appreciation of support- both formal and informal, that young people with ADHD draw on. It explores the support accessed and/or received by young people with ADHD, their experience of the support received and the hurdles faced in accessing formal support. Nine young women and men, between the ages of 18 to 31, with a diagnosis of ADHD participated in the study. The data is part an ongoing research project “Participation for all? School and post-school pathways of young people with functional disabilities”. Using an ethnographic case study, rich qualitative data was generated through various sources. 1) narratives of young people and other key individuals in their lives 2) existing documentation from institutional settings like schools, social services, child habilitation centers 3) shadowing young people in their everyday lives, particularly in interaction with state agencies, health care and other extra services/support provided in their current settings. The findings show that the main hurdle faced by young adults with ADHD is navigating and accessing the formal support services available. Informal support are provided by various professionals, who go beyond their official roles to help these young individuals’ access the support they have a right too. An absence of coordination within and between state agencies, as well as lack of holistic long-term goal with the formal supports provided, are identified as potential barriers for providing meaningful support to these young adults. The presentation intents to throw light on the obstacles and value of the support and services provided to this vulnerable group.

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