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Experiences of criticism in adults with ADHD: A qualitative study

Beaton, Danielle M.; Sirois, Fuschia; Milne, Elizabeth


Danielle M. Beaton

Elizabeth Milne


People with ADHD are at high risk of receiving criticism from others, yet criticism has not been well researched in this population. This study aimed to provide a rich understanding of what experiences adults with ADHD traits have with criticism. As part of a larger study, 162 participants with ADHD and high ADHD traits provided a written response to an open question asking about their experiences of criticism from other people. Thematic analysis was used to identify five common themes in the responses. Behaviours associated with inattention were perceived as the most criticised, whilst impulsive behaviours were mostly criticised in social contexts. Criticism was perceived via numerous conducts and was reported to have negative consequences for self-worth and wellbeing. To cope, some participants avoided criticism or changed how they reacted, including trying to accept themselves as they are. The responses indicated that receiving understanding from others played an important role in whether criticism was perceived. Overall, the findings highlight the need for more knowledge, understanding and acceptance towards neurodiversity from the general population.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 18, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2022
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Volume 17
Issue 2
Public URL
Additional Information This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (