Employment experiences of parents of children with ASD or ADHD: An exploratory study

Hill, Elisabeth L.; Jones, Alice P.; Lang, Jane; Yarker, Joanna and Patterson, Allyson. 2015. Employment experiences of parents of children with ASD or ADHD: An exploratory study. International Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 61(3), pp. 166-176. ISSN 2047-3869 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are often hindered by their carer status as they seek to obtain and maintain employment opportunities. These parents can incur financial, social and psychological distress related to their inabilities to commit to the demands of a typical work environment. This paper seeks to identify the course of employment for parents following a child’s diagnosis. This paper also seeks to delineate factors that influence continued employment despite carer status, as well as the factors that prevent continued employment. A sample of 10 parents of children with a primary diagnosis of ASD and a sample of 10 parents of children with a primary diagnosis of ADHD were interviewed concerning their employment experiences before and after the diagnoses of their children. The interviews were analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis and produced several discrete themes. Participants identified a desire for normality, as well as financial motivation, as the primary factors determining continued employment. These parents also reported various barriers to employment such as lack of availability of adequate childcare, colleague and manager misunderstanding, inflexible organisational policies, and inaccessibility of opportunity. These findings offer a qualitative overview of the vocational struggles of parents of children with ADHD and ASD while implying the necessity of support and education for this often-overlooked group of carers, as well as those who employ them.

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Funding for this project was provided by The Wellcome Trust (EH and JY) and the Department of Psychology,
Goldsmiths, University of London (EH and AJ). AP was supported by the Furman Advantage Program of
Furman University.


attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; autism spectrum disorder, employment experience; barriers; facilitators; parents

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20 May 2014Published Online

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Date Deposited:

07 Feb 2014 10:59

Last Modified:

21 Apr 2021 15:10

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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