A deficit in attention to assessment and supports for adults with ADHD in Aotearoa New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, Distance, New Zealand

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Massey University
Outdated understandings, referral bias, and stereotypes of Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) lead to diagnostic delays. Individuals with ADHD struggle with many aspects of life and have an increased risk of poorer outcomes. Many adults living with undiagnosed ADHD will not have access to support to help manage the difficult aspects of ADHD. In Aotearoa, New Zealand, it has been suggested that ADHD assessments are inaccessible. The aim of this research was to examine access to assessment and supports for adults with ADHD/suspected ADHD in Aotearoa by exploring the perceptions and lived experiences of adults diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood. This research also sought to explore the impact of late diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and/or missed diagnosis of ADHD on adults in Aotearoa. This research was underpinned by a blend of paradigms, generating a research foundation of a critical neurodiversity paradigm. This blend enabled exploration of the impacts of social structures and the challenging of neuronormative, oppressive structures while centring neurodivergent voices. Hermeneutic phenomenology was utilised to support the centring of lived experience and for its appreciation of researcher lived experience. Following semi structured interviews, Interpretive phenomenological analysis was utilised to interpret the experiences of nine adults with ADHD. Analysis revealed participants were impacted by neuronormativity and ableism which nurtured the development of negative self-perceptions and mental distress. Late diagnosis meant that participants spent their younger years internalising the constant reinforcement of difference and failure in their social environments. Receiving a diagnosis provided participants with self-understanding and connection with people who have similar experiences. The findings also revealed that access to ADHD assessment is dependent on either privilege or crisis. The participants in this study suggested several recommendations to improve ADHD healthcare for themselves and for other people seeking support. The findings of this research have implications for the improvement of policies regarding ADHD, from the perspectives of adults with ADHD.