Narrating realities of Latino mothers of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] using ecological and cultural approach

Date of Completion

January 2006


Anthropology, Cultural|Psychology, Clinical|Hispanic American Studies




Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD] is the most common behavioral health disorder for school age children in the United States. Children with ADHD have challenging behaviors that require constant supervision, molding and management to prevent long-term disruptive and disabling impacts on their lives. Research has shown that when a family member has a disability, it affects the entire family system, particularly the caregivers. ^ This research therefore strived to learn from the Puerto-Rican born Latino mothers of children with ADHD, through life stories how parenting children with ADHD impact their personal life as caregivers and their families' daily activities and routines. Also, this study demonstrated the extent to which Latino values, beliefs and tradition play a role in shaping the goals, adaptive efforts and accommodations these families make in response to the unique challenges of having children with ADHD. ^ Focus groups and in-depth interviews were used to collect qualitative data in the form of 'narratives' to answer the following research questions: (1) How do Puerto-Rican mothers experience having children with ADHD? (2) What behaviors do they see as unusual and/or difficult, and at what ages are these behaviors observed, and who do they seek for help? (3) When do they seek professional help, and what is their experience with the providers of service, particularly in the health and school settings? and (4) What is the impact of the child's behavior on the family, and how do the family accommodate for the child's special needs? ^ Thematic and contextual analysis of the narratives was done using eco-cultural approach to show how these families interpret and create meanings from varied ecological and cultural experiences they have due to their children ADHD and why. In addition, this study presented both (1) a research methodology that could be replicated with large sample size to better assess the social burden and cost of ADHD and (2) public health research agenda for future investigations. Most importantly, this study proposed appropriate interventions and actions to support and strengthen families, particularly Latino families of children with ADHD. ^