For the next post detailing findings from my ADHD Partner Survey: Folklore persists regarding the type of romantic partners attracted to adults with ADHD—and vice versa. Never mind that … [Read more...]
ADHD Partner Survey
Welcome to the section of the ADHD Roller Coaster blog devoted to sharing results from my ADHD Partner Survey.
This is the largest, most comprehensive survey on Adult ADHD issues of any type, not solely relationship issues.
We must remember: Any adverse outcome for the adult with ADHD (e.g. low education, erratic employment, car accidents, and more) also affects the partner and the children. I designed and conducted this survey to better understand the range of experiences and situations.
Beyond "ADHD and Relationships"
It's hard for me to over-emphasize: We should all be skeptical of any discussion of "ADHD and relationships" that focuses only on intimacy, communication, and chore-sharing.
Yet, you'll still see random websites and articles—and I'm afraid, some clinicians claiming Adult ADHD expertise—place those limitations placed on this topic.
Even today (2019), many ADHD clinical specialists fail to see that the partners of adults with ADHD are carrying a heavy load.
Admonishing the partners to "help more" is alienating, punishing, and unhelpful to the couple and the adult with ADHD as well. That's why I spent four years producing the couple-therapy guide: to give clinicians a clearer model of how to best help these couples in an equitable way.
The ADHD Partner Survey queried the partners of adults with ADHD on a range of topics, including:
- Many aspects of ADHD and relationships
- Health issues (for the ADHD partner and the respondents)
- Experiences in finding ADHD treatment and couple therapy
- Much more
Each post in this section will share results. I will be sharing more results over the coming months.
To more about why and how I conducted the survey, please visit About the ADHD Partner Survey.
Part of my journalistic training was studying statistics and research methods. I put it to good use.
For the data to have any meaning, the respondents had to be qualified and methods rigorous.
This was an immense undertaking, especially given that I started it in 2004. Load times for each occurrence of editing the online questions took forever.
Remember: Adult ADHD was barely being recognized when I started my research. ADHD-related relationship challenges? Mostly not on anyone's radar. The notable exception? Daniel Amen, MD, whose support and validation I will eternally appreciate, especially as many other clinicians in the field essentially "gaslighted" me on the topic.
2019: Still the Largest, Most Rigorous Survey on ADHD And Relationships
To date, the ADHD Partner Survey is the largest, most comprehensive survey on this subject. The questions went far beyond specific relationship issues, asking about a range of issues specifically affecting the ADHD partner as well.
- The survey was not randomly constructed and posted on a website for anyone to take, willy nilly. Rather, I interviewed each potential respondent and had been following their stories. I could track survey responses, anonymously, by randomized code.
- The survey had conditional logic on dozens of topics. Only those who, for example, were co-parents or entrepreneurs, who had pursued couple therapy, or who had declared bankruptcy, answered questions on those topics
- Most scientific studies involve people with ADHD who either are already diagnosed or are pursuing treatment (so-called “clinic-referred” patients). The ADHD Partner Survey covered that population. But it also offers a rarer, more intimate glimpse into lives wherein ADHD has gone unrecognized and untreated for decades—and firmly remained that way.
- In 2014, when Russell Barkley, PhD, asked me to write the first-ever chapter on couple therapy for his “gold standard” ADHD clinical guide, he approved of including survey data. That’s because, even almost 14 years after the survey, it was still the best data. And remains so in 2019.
- Many of my findings have since been replicated in published research. For all those years I was a lone voice in the wilderness, that is extremely satisfying.
The 111 respondents whose answers are reported in this book (a subset of total respondents) show the following demographics:
- 86 percent had male partners and 14 percent had female partners.
- Most reported being in heterosexual relationships, with 6 percent being in same-sex relationships.
- Ages ranged from 22 to 75 (with the majority from 36 to 53).
- Most respondents lived in the United States, but 14 percent resided in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Israel.
- 50 percent were college graduates and 28 percent held postgraduate degrees. (By contrast, only 26 percent of their ADHD partners were college grads, but 29 percent held postgraduate degrees.)
- Of the 71 percent who disclosed annual household income, 50 percent reported earning $91,000 and above, and 20 percent reported earning $50,000 or below.
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