ADHD Identity: A Conceptual Developmental Model

By Erik Schott.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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There is an extremely limited amount of research that looks at identity development for adults with disabilities, particularly those who identify with a hidden diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). More and more students with disabilities, such as ADHD, are entering college in the United States. As such, it is increasingly important to understand the processes by which adults with ADHD develop psychosocially and develop a healthy identity around their diagnosis. Faculty and administrators in education can better understand how to assist this exceptional population in order to support them in their development of a positive identity. This phenomenological study was focused on investigating the process of forging an ADHD identity. Other factors considered in the study were gender, race/ethnicity/culture, and sexual identity. The participants in this study were adults with ADHD recruited from a four-year private institution of higher education in the Western United States. Data was collected from in-depth interviews. Participants were of varied genders, race/ethnicity/culture, and sexual identities. Emergent textural descriptions including ADHD and disability identity development, demographic identification, ADHD affects and relationships, diagnosis and symptoms were associated with participants’ identity development. The findings from this study identify a unique model of identity development for adults living with ADHD. More research in the area of ADHD identity development was indicated. Suggestions for further research that focuses on the inclusion of this marginalized group in educational, medical, and mental health settings is examined.

Keywords: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, Identity, Development

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.141-153. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 667.927KB).

Dr. Erik Schott

Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Erik is a licensed clinical social worker and educational psychologist, specializing in the areas of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); HIV/AIDS; couples therapy; addictions; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersexed, and allied (LGBTQQIA) issues; and childhood/adolescent developmental disabilities. A certified therapist in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and cognitive behavioral therapy, he has clinical interests in the effects of institutionalized trauma on knowledge acquisition and health outcomes. He has research interests in adult ADHD. Schott has worked as a front-line clinician on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. He was the former director of the CHOISS Program at the Serra Project, a housing agency serving individuals and families with HIV/AIDS and multiple disabilities. Currently, he is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. Schott integrates real-world knowledge into learning through his experiences as a psychotherapist in private practice, as well as a community-based health social worker. He is a double Trojan from the University of Southern California.