Thursday, April 4, 2013

Barbara A. Mather's dissertation on, "Early Career Experiences of Young Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder"

Barbara A. Mather, Fielding's  School of Human & Organizational Development

The first generation of children growing up in the 1980s and 1990s with the official diagnosis of ADHD is now completing college and entering the workforce, yet few qualitative research studies examine the experiences of these young adults as they leave the safety of family homes or educational institutions. This study addresses the research question: What are some of the challenging work experiences as described by young adults with ADHD in a structured work environment? Young adults, ages 22- to 28-years-old, from across the USA were interviewed to examine, qualitatively, the types of challenges they experience in the workplace. All told, the 13 participants present over 50 examples of challenging work experiences which are synthesized into four categories or types of challenging experiences:

1. Attention related – four subtypes:
      a) Selective attention
      b) Divided attention
      c) Shifting attention
      d) Sustained attention
2. Related to organization, structure, job content job design
3. Related to self-management, impulsivity, social skills
4. Related to managing tasks or others outside of one’s control

Additionally, in determining how these young adults have adapted to their workplace environments, a major finding is in the area of self-awareness which influences, moderates, or mitigates one’s behavior towards these challenging work experiences. Noteworthy is the fact that the five individuals with the highest number of self-awareness comments have either participated in the past or are currently engaged in counseling or therapy of some form. A nine-square matrix is presented to show positioning of “degree of job fit” across the vertical axis and “self-awareness” across the horizontal axis. This matrix is used to demonstrate the relative comparisons and placement of the 13 young adults with ADHD who participated in this study. Many topics of research for young adults with ADHD deserve further study. Areas include comparative studies between those without ADHD (control group) and with ADHD diagnosis to determine the extent to which good career choices are made, how careers are managed, the degree of job satisfaction, self-awareness levels and the impact on how work challenges are resolved, and many more. Additionally, topics include decision to disclose ADHD diagnosis in the workplace, management understanding, or awareness of ADHD in the workplace, and areas of improving workplace performance for attention-challenged individuals.

Keywords: ADHD, ADD, self-awareness, job fit, workplace challenges, workplace experience, workplace difficulty, attention, inattention, boredom, procrastination, structure, organization, young adults with ADHD, counseling, therapy, treatment

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