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Enabling successful life engagement in young people with ADHD: new components beyond adult models of recovery

Chen, W., Epstein, A., Toner, M., Murphy, N., Rudaizky, D. and Downs, J. (2022) Enabling successful life engagement in young people with ADHD: new components beyond adult models of recovery. Disability and Rehabilitation . pp. 1-13.

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To examine the lived experiences of young people successfully managing life with ADHD and investigate the applicability of adult models of Recovery to these individuals.


Twenty-seven young people aged 15–31 years participated in qualitative interviews. Participants’ success was indicated by employment, school attendance, absence of acute mental health episodes, or absence of chronic alcohol or drug use. Thematic analysis identified specific components of their life successes and challenges.


The emergent framework comprised four elements: (i) Recovernance (RE) (a portmanteau merging ‘Recovery’ and ‘Maintenance’; ongoing adjustment to maintain one’s personal best without an end point); (ii) Personal Optimization (PO) (continuously striving to maximize function and adjust one’s goals given fluctuating impairments and internal resources); (iii) Self (S) (facing internal challenges and developing internal resilience); and (iv) Environment (E) (facing external challenges and fostering external resilience). These four elements yielded the acronym ‘REPOSE’.


Recovery in young people with ADHD was not a linear journey, with many missteps leading to greater self-knowledge, life skills and mastery. Progress was leveraged on securely anchored internal and external resilience factors against the prospect of setbacks. Findings provide new concepts and novel lexicons to extend existing concepts in Recovery.

Implications for rehabilitation

Counselling and therapy for young people with ADHD should foster self-understanding, goal setting and self-vigilance as an ongoing process to build their capacity to tackle setbacks and adversities.

Counselling and therapy for young people with ADHD focus on a strengths-based approach building internal and external resources, such as developing skills and establishing social connections that build infrastructure in the environment for meaningful participation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
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