Affecting approximately 6.8% of adults globally (Forbes, 2023) with a 400% increase in those seeking a diagnosis (The ADHD Foundation 2023) attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is becoming a widely discussed condition, impacting millions. However, an often-overlooked aspect of ADHD is its prevalence in those with learning difficulties, clinically referred to as Intellectual Disability (ID). Alarmingly, 1 in 5 individuals with ID also grapple with ADHD, creating an exceedingly challenging situation for these patients.

To raise awareness on this niche area of the condition, we were commissioned to produce an animation by Bhathika Perera, Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, at University College London. The goal was to produce a comprehensive animation to detail the unique combination of conditions, their effects upon the individual, caregivers and society. And, of course, the benefit of early diagnosis.

“The figures surrounding this project were just jaw-dropping. Not only was this animation a great creative exercise, but it also solidified video and animation’s importance in easing the diagnosis process and making underrepresented conditions known.”
Quint Boa, Synima Founder

This animation was produced against a backdrop of a very turbulent healthcare system. In the UK, waiting times for treatment are at an all-time high (averaging around 58 weeks) which proves especially detrimental to those suffering from ADHD & ID, where urgent support is needed and on an ongoing basis.

The growing issue of wait-times and a general lack of prior information made available to the public on the subject guided the production of the animation. Thus, we needed to create a comprehensive animation which could be understood by patients and physician alike. We centred our approach around three core pillars:

  • The patient: What would someone with ID and ADHD experience?
  • The Treatment: Any possible medication and psychological strategies to ease symptoms?
  • The Difference: Once treatment is received how does life change?
“The animation focuses on the character ‘Sam’ and how diagnosis of ADHD within someone with an intellectual disability can positively impact their life.”
Joe Grimsdale, Lead Animator and Creative
To ensure the content was accessible to an audience of those with ADHD and ID (alongside a wider audience of carers and physicians), it was imperative the video was made bite-sized and easy to understand. 2D animation was ultimately chosen as the right medium, through clear imagery and a character-led narrative, topics surrounding the condition were able to be bought in gently with the character acting as a consistent anchor to ensure the script flowed fluently and was relatable.
“Making use of gradients, blurring and shadows, we’ve softened the visuals of the animation and brought a more relatable feel to the 2D scenes & characters through a more realistic lighting approach.”
Joe Grimsdale, Lead Animator and Creative

Animation’s ability to be easily adapted to various platforms and formats proved vital in the animation’s rollout. Engineered for web, social media and physical presentation, the project has been seen by a huge variety of people ranging from healthcare professionals, concerned family members and those who suffer from ADHD in ID, all of which contributing to breaking the stigma and raising awareness of the conditions.

The animation has been a huge success and is further testament to the ability of video and animation’s ability to cost effectively communicate complex subjects, specifically within the healthcare sector.

To learn more about we can bring life to healthcare comms, feel free to contact us at

Benefits of animation

  • Animation is accessible, especially via social media, and completely free to air for people who require it (via mobile phones).
  • Animation can reach cohorts who struggle to read and write, eg those with a neurodivergence (20% of the population) and/or SEND (15% of the population).
  • Animation can be translated to reach people for whom English is not the first language.
  • Waiting times for CAMHS and community mental health services is typically months – from script to screen, an animation can be created in two weeks, making it ideal for ‘disaster’ work.
  • Animation voiceovers can be quickly translated and revoiced in any language at a rough cost of only £1000.
  • While the initial animation can cost about £10k, subsequent digital copies are completely free (unlike print). Small amendments to ‘end slates’ to, for example, localise helpline numbers cost very little, so one trauma video can be used 10,000 times nationally at pretty much no extra cost.
    • Animation works brilliantly across all social media channels so it’s instantly and freely accessible and provides a ‘language’ for the person and their caregivers to understand what’s going on.
  • Still images can be taken from the animation and used within other collateral. For example, a dozen still images can be laid out in front of a child, enabling them to choose which image from the animation spoke to them (a good way to introduce tricky subjects, eg sexual abuse).