ADHD and the Workplace
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are terms familiar to most and are usually ascribed to children. Yet, many adults, particularly those in their late 30s and older, may suffer from one of these disorders and not even know it. ADD and ADHD were not widely studied, discussed, debated, and diagnosed until the 1990s, long after many adults were out of the school system.
For adults with ADHD, the workplace can be stressful and challenging. “If these challenges are not recognized and coping strategies not developed, people with ADHD may find themselves jumping from job to job, being terminated, and becoming increasingly frustrated and unhappy” wrote psychologist Janet Frank.
In the workplace, ADHD adults may encounter “ADHD traps” such as distractibility, impulsivity, boredom, time management and organization problems, procrastination, difficulty with long-term projects, and interpersonal difficulties.
Dr. Edward Hallowell, founder of The Hallowell Center, writes that “external structure” is key. He suggests using lists, color-coding reminders, and notes to self. “Prioritize. Avoid procrastination. When things get busy, the adult ADHD person loses perspective. . . . Take a deep breath. Put first things first. Procrastination is one of the hallmarks of adult ADHD.”
Dr. Hallowell writes a blog where he offers suggestions, tips, and techniques for understanding and dealing with ADD and ADHD. Most of all, he wants people to remember that “treatment of adult ADHD begins with hope.”
Adults with ADD and ADHD may have legal protections under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in higher education and the workplace. Some state laws may go further than these federal laws in prohibiting discrimination. Check with your state government or an attorney who practices in your jurisdiction to determine your rights under state law and federal laws.