04 SES 02 A, Rethinking the ADHD Paradigm from an Inclusive Perspective
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 in Sweden. This is reflective of the situation in many European countries. One disability that has in recent years received increasing attention is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The number of children and adults with a diagnosis of ADHD is on a rise in Sweden, as in many other European countries. The last two decades have seen an increasing number of research investigations focusing on ADHD. On the one hand, there are a group of researchers raising the socially constructed nature of the diagnosis, and questioning its existence as well as its relevance. On the other, there are those who have drawn attention to the challenges, difficulties, and limitations arising from ADHD, and the consequences of that in school and after.
Despite these two diverse approaches to investigating the topic, there is considerable evidence to support that people with ADHD are at a much greater risk to be marginalized in society. Among school aged children, poor academic performance, education in special settings and higher rates of school drop-out, are common. Several studies have also shown that drug-abuse and alcoholism are more frequent among people with ADHD. Even the incidence of ADHD among prison inmates is significantly higher than in the general adult population.
This bleak picture of school and post-school life for this group culminates in their marginal representation in higher education and employment, and limits their participation in the today’s knowledge-based economy.Nonetheless, we have little understanding of the educational pathways of this marginalized group and their experiences from educational settings. What is the support they have received from within or outside school and how do they perceive this support. These are some of the question taken up in the presentation, where the main research question addressed is: what are the different educational trajectories of individuals with ADHD in Sweden?
The research is inspired by the life course perspective and draws on the concepts of trajectory, transition and turning points to analyze young peoples’ lives within a historical, social and cultural context (Pallas, 2003).
A ethnographic case study design was adopted in this study and 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 (Czarniawska, 2007) young people in their everyday lives, particularly in interaction with state agencies, health care and other extra services/support provided in their current settings. Nine young women and men, between the ages of 18 to 31, with a diagnosis of ADHD participated in the study. To capture a spread in educational pathways of this diverse group, contact was established through different mediums: online forums, adult education centers, universities, posters in public spaces and through word of mouth. The data is part an ongoing research project “Participation for all? School and post-school pathways of young people with functional disabilities” and these young people will continue to be followed over a couple of years, increasing the likelihood of capturing current transitions and not only retrospective data.
The mapping of educational pathways, transitions and turning points will help illuminate the barriers and opportunities encountered by the people with ADHD, both during their school career as well an in transition to adulthood. It will generate knowledge that might throw light on the value of the support and services provided to this vulnerable group at risk for economic, social and health disadvantage.
Czarniawska, B. (2007). Shadowing: and other techniques for doing fieldwork in modern societies. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press DK. Elder, G.H. (1985).Perspectives on the life course. In G.H.Elder (ed.) Life course dynamics: Trajectories and Transitions, 1968–1980 (pp 23-49). Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Kuriyan, A. B., Pelham, W. E., Molina, B. S., Waschbusch, D. A., Gnagy, E. M., Sibley, M. H., ... & Kent, K. M. (2013). Young adult educational and vocational outcomes of children diagnosed with ADHD. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 41(1), 27-41. Pallas, A. M. (2003). Educational transitions, trajectories, and pathways. In J.T. Mortimer and M.J. Shanahan (Eds.) Handbook of the life course (pp. 165-184). New York: Springer. Walther, A., Warth, A., Ule, M., & du Bois-Reymond, M. (2015). ‘Me, my education and I’: constellations of decision-making in young people’s educational trajectories. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 28(3), 349-371.
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