Exploring the Occupational Needs of Students with ADHD

Principal Investigator

Maria Clince, Trinty College Dublin.


Research Aim

The aim of this research, therefore, is to explore the occupational and sensory preferences of students with ADHD in order to develop an occupational therapy model of support for these students.

The objectives of this research are to:

  1. Explore the needs and concerns of students with ADHD as measured by the Trinity Student Profile.
  2. Explore the level of participation in college activities and social interaction amongst students with ADHD as measured by the College Student Experience
  3. Explore the occupations (academic, social leisure, and self-care) of students with ADHD as measured by the Interest Checklist, Occupational Self-Assessment, and Occupational Questionnaire.
  4. Explore the sensory preferences of university students with ADHD as measure by the Adult Sensory Profile and explore if the college environment meets their sensory needs.
  5. Explore the barriers and enablers to participation in the student role for students with ADHD, as reported by professionals that work in student support services within college.
  6. Compare how results from students in different higher education institutes compare to each other in terms of difficulties experiences levels of participation in college life and sensory preferences.
  7. Utilize the findings to inform programme development for students with ADHD.



Inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are widely regarded as the core symptoms of ADHD. In adulthood, these symptoms are strongly associated with disorganisation, poor time management and inadequate problem-solving skills (Bramham & Young, 2009) which may impact on the individual’s ability to engage in the student role. 

In Trinity College the numbers of students with ADHD applying for supports with the Disability Service have increased from less than 5 in 2005 to 50 in 2012.  This makes up almost 5.5% of students applying for reasonable accommodations with the Disability Service in TCD, which compares to 2.6% of the national figure of students applying with Disability Services in HEIs nationwide. Although within recent years, there has been much focus upon the transition into college, there is a lack of sufficient knowledge of the occupational needs of university students with ADHD to underpin the development of targeted resources and appropriate supports.

Research approach

A sequential exploratory mixed methods (Creswell, 2013) approach was used to gather data through the use of qualitative and quantitative methods.  A qualitative design (interviews) will be used to gather data from the support staff and an interview will be used to gather information from the students. Students will also be sent the questionnaire via SurveyMonkey (quantitative design).

Disability Service Strategy 2009-2014 phase alignment: Phase 2
Level of research: M.Sc in Occupational Therapy
Supervisor: Dr. Clodagh Nolan
Stage of research: Due for completion in September 2014