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ADHD In The Workplace

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adhd in the workplace

The whole reason I was able to confront my ADHD in the workplace was because of a dream job that went terribly wrong. The experience resulted in a handout my psychiatrist gave me of ways to cope with ADHD in the workplace. While I ended up not sticking with that job, the lessons I learned in my final weeks there followed me to my next job and I 100% give credit those tips for my success.

Communication

In my case, I “came out” about my condition in a moment of candor. However, you don’t even have to mention your condition if you’re not comfortable doing that. You can say something vague about having trouble keeping things in your head. The point is, by letting those around you aware of your struggles, you are giving them a chance to help you. At the very least, they may be more likely to cut you slack if they see you taking ownership if the issue by acknowledging it and trying to work around it.

Strategies

One of the items on my doctor’s list was white noise. There’s tons of stuff like this, like color coding, coming up with a planning system or even moving to another desk if your management team is supportive enough. (Or if you work at home like me, this can mean putting up a divider that separates your office space from the rest of the home.)

I would say the most important thing I’ve learned is there is no such thing as the perfect system, and it’s okay to keep iterating until you get to something that’s mostly okay. When it comes to remembering things, if it doesn’t live in Google Calendar, it doesn’t exist to me. On the flip side, I know a lot of ADHD’ers who swear by the bullet journal and I am so very close to giving it another try.

ADHD Accommodations

If you work at a company with at least 15 employers, your company may be required to provide accommodations under protections provided by the Americans With Disabilities Act. Per the ADA, you are entitled to accommodations if  1) “have a disability that substantially impairs one or more major life activities”; and 2) “are able to perform the essential functions of your job with or without reasonable accommodations.”

So what if you work for a company with fewer than 15 employees? In that case, it’s on a state-by-state basis. What kind of accommodations can you expect? According to the ADA, the request must be reasonable. And this is after you have a formal diagnosis and a job impairment due to your disability has been established. 

Depending on the size of your company and the nature of your work, it’s going to come down to what’s reasonable. So should you disclose? That’s a tricky one.  While you certainly have a right to disclose your ADHD to your employer, it’s not that straightforward. Stigma still exists in the workplace, and it’s a personal decision that should be weighed carefully.

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