Australian adults with ADHD have named employment as the top priority focus area for increased awareness and understanding of the condition.
The ADHD Australia National Survey Report: the voice of the ADHD community’ published today (24 October 2020) by ADHD Australia surveyed 1616 people across Australia, with 54.4% coming from parents with children with ADHD, 18.1% for adults with ADHD and 14.7% for adults with ADHD with kids with ADHD.
When asked about the top priority area, 57.7% of adults with ADHD voted “dealing with the impact on employment”, followed by managing social and relationship matters as well as improving organisational skills.
“The stigma of ADHD discourages letting people know. Work and relationships are made difficult due to not feeling comfortable disclosing and yet the right information and understanding would make a massive difference,” says one anonymous adult quoted in the survey.
Another says: “[We need] Flexible working arrangements to help manage ADHD”.
Just 34.1% of adults with ADHD in the survey report being employed in full-time work. At least 13% of people report that they were unemployed and seeking work, a number larger than the 11.6% of people employed part-time. Another 7.5% say they are self-employed.
The ADHD survey results echo the results in the 2019 Deloitte Access Economics report on the social and economic costs of ADHD in Australia, which found that reduced employment associated with ADHD is estimated to cost $3.09 billion in 2019, or $5,417 per working age Australian with children.
Len Russell, the CEO of ADHD Australia, says the report points towards issues of underemployment, loss of opportunity for career progression and workplaces not providing appropriate accommodations to people with ADHD.
Other top priorities for adults with ADHD include a focus on improving self-esteem, getting help from various sources (such as doctors, families and workplaces) and dealing with legal issues.
ADHD is also a financial burden for many adults. The average annual spend on ADHD-related services and products for adults is estimated to be $3401.01. If that adult also has a child with ADHD, the figure is almost doubled at $6,672.45. Young people under 26 do not fare much better at $2,188.81 in total spend.
Overall, for adults and parents with children with ADHD, the biggest priority area is dealing with the everyday living challenges of living with the condition, including living with co-existing conditions.
Anxiety is the top reported co-existing condition (31%), followed by autism (20.5%), depression (11.8%), dyslexia/dysgraphic/dyscalculia (11.1%) and oppositional defiant disorder (9.6%).
At least two-thirds of survey respondents rely on doctors and other health professionals. However, a staggering 34.4% of respondents say they "find it hard to get support" and 10.9% go without support.
Other common avenues of support include family and friends (34%), Facebook groups (33.6%), ADHD support groups (31.9%), website information (29.1%), social media (5%) and traditional media (0.4%).
To read the full report, including impacts on education, children and the role of COVID-19, click here.