ADHD and the Workplace


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I co presented Succeeding with ADD at Work and at Life workshop at the Beyond Independence Conference which was held on June 29th and 30th, 2011 at Four Point Sheraton in Norwood, Mass

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ADHD and the Workplace

  1. 1. Adult ADHD &The Workplace Jenna Knight June 30, 2011
  2. 2. Objectives• Participants will learn more about the impact of executive function deficits in employment• Participants will learn more about the challenges of ADHD in the workplace• Participants will learn how and when to disclose to supervisors• Participants will become familiar with the ADA and accommodations
  3. 3. Executive FunctionWhat is executive functioning?Executive Function is a term used to describe a set of mental processes that helps us connect tpastexperience with present action. We use executive function when we perform such activities asplanning, organizing, strategizing and paying attention to and remembering details.People with executive function problems have difficulty with planning, organizing and managingtime and space. They also show weakness with "working memory" (or "seeing in your mindseye"), which is an important tool in guiding ones actions
  4. 4. Executive Function Challenges In the WorkplaceThe executive function challenges often associated with ADHD in adults can lead tonumerous difficulties in the workplace• Impulsivity can lead an employee to agree to tasks before they have carefully considered whether they have overcommitted and will be unable to fulfill their promise.• Restlessness and hyperactivity may lead an individual to frequently leave his or her desk, finding excuses to roam the halls, run errands, or strike up conversations rather than working productively.• Memory difficulties can lead an individual with ADHD to be seen as unreliable when verbal requests are repeatedly forgotten.
  5. 5. Challenges Continued• Patterns of procrastination, so common among adults with ADHD, can lead coworkers and supervisors to see the employee with ADHD as immature, unmotivated, or worse, attempting to manipulate others into doing work for them.• Difficulties with planning and organization can frequently play a role in poor workplace performance. An employee with ADHD may avoid beginning a challenging task because they have difficulty with organizing the task and knowing where to begin• General messiness, that so often accompanies ADHD, is not only a very public display of disorganization, but also greatly increases the challenge of keeping track of and completing the multiple tasks the job requires.
  6. 6. Strategies for Executive FunctionThere are many different strategies when faced with problems with executive function atworkImpulsivity• Anticipate the problems that regularly trigger impulsive reactions and develop routines for coping with these situations.• Ask for regular, constructive feedback as a way of becoming more aware of how impulsivity might manifest in you.Restlessness and Hyperactivity • Take notes in meetings to prevent restlessness.• Set a timer to stay on task
  7. 7. Strategies continuedMemory• Write checklists for complicated tasks.• Use a bulletin board or computer reminder list for announcements and other memory triggers. • Learn how to use a day planner and keep it with you to keep track of tasks and events. • Write notes on sticky pads and put them in a highly visible place.Procrastination.• Break the task into small pieces, rewarding yourself along the way.• Ask the supervisor to set a deadline for tasks.• Consider working on a team with a co-worker who manages time well.Difficulty managing long-term projects• Strive to shorten the time allowed on a project to better utilize "sprinting abilities."• Find and partner with a co-worker who has good organizational skills.
  8. 8. StrategiesInterpersonal/social skill issues.• Ask others for feedback, especially if there is a history of problems with colleagues and supervisors.• Learn to pick up on social cues more readily. Some adults with ADHD have a hard time picking up nonverbal cues that they are angering a co-worker or supervisor
  9. 9. Impact of ADHD On The EconomyCurrent evidence based research documents the significant impact ADHD can have on adultsin regards to their employment outcomes• Adults with adhd when compared to people without it, are 2-4 times more likely to be terminated from a job• 52% are more likely to change jobs• 20 – 40 % earn monthly less income than people with out ADHD• Adults with adhd tend to be absent 22 more days out of the year
  10. 10. ADHD and the Americans with Disabilities ActIs AD/HD a disability under the ADA?The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, theADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet (EEOC, 1992).Therefore, some people with AD/HD will have a disability under the ADA and some will not.A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantiallylimits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded ashaving such an impairment (EEOC, 1992). To be a disability covered by the ADA, theimpairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities. These are activities thatan average person can perform with little or no difficulty. Examples are: walking, seeing,speaking, hearing, breathing, learning, caring for oneself, and working. These are examplesonly.Most courts have agreed with the activities listed by the EEOC. For example, in Brown v. CoxMedical Centers, 286 F.3d 1040 (8th Cir. 2002), the Court noted that the “ability to performcognitive functions” is a major life activity. In Gagliardo v. Connaught Laboratories, Inc., 311F.3d 565 (3d Cir. 2002), the court held that “concentrating and remembering (more generally,cognitive function)” are major life activities (Fram, 2004).
  11. 11. DisclosureWhat is Disclosure?Disclosure refers to telling a supervisor, co-worker or others about your disability.Disclosure is one of the most difficult decisions you can make. It‟s a personal decision thatrequires a lot of thought and planning. You need to carefully plan how you wish to disclose andthink about the possible implications this action has for everyone involved.Reasons Why Adults with ADHD Keep It To Themselves• May not know much about their ADHD and how it affects them at work• Had an unpleasant experience in the past, and do not want to repeat that experience• Fear that disclosing will lead to prejudice, discrimination or rejection• May think that a ADHD will be seen as a weakness• Feel they should not disclose their ADHD unless it is absolutely necessary. They prefer to work around the problems.• Do not know when or how to disclose their ADHD
  12. 12. DisclosureSome Reasons Why you Might Decide to Disclose:• Because clear-cut issues have arisen that allow your supervisor to gain a better understanding of your situation• Because you want to explain why you have not always met expectations or requirements of the job.Some Situations When You Might Decide to Disclose• Before a job interview, or before you accept a job or a promotion so you can discuss the accommodations you require• During a job evaluation• When your ADHD begins to hamper your work performance• At other times, when you think your employer and/or co-workers are receptive to your disclosure.
  13. 13. Disclosure When Not to Disclose• When companies recruit people with ADHD but lack a supportive environment allowing people to excel.• When you feel that people will make you feel bad about your ADHD• When you are at a job interview, because there is a risk of not being selected for the job due to your ADHD or the focus is put on your ADHD, not your skillsTo Whom Do You Disclose?• The best person to talk to is a staff person from the human resources department, or at least removed from the front-line. In small companies, you may want to speak to a senior person who is not your direct supervisor.
  14. 14. Tips about Disclosing• Plan a meeting. Scheduled meeting between yourself and the person you have decided to talk to.• Be prepared. Provide the person with a specific reason for the accommodation. Explain why you need it and how this would benefit the company.• Don‟t discuss your life history. Provide only as much information as the person needs to know for you to obtain the accommodation. Information discussed should be private. Stress that the information needs to remain confidential and private. Ask if anyone else will be given the information and for what reasons?• Make a plan and stick to it. Write an action plan on how, when and to what extent the accommodation is to be provided.• Follow up. Request a follow-up meeting to chart the progress or adjustment which needs to be made.
  15. 15. Accommodations• Accommodations are the different methods and materials that a person with ADHD can use to complete tasks or activities with greater ease and efficiency in the workplace• Employees have a right to accommodations in the workplace if it doesn‟t cause undue hardship to the company or organization where you work. Be aware that not all people with ADHD will need accommodations to perform their jobs, and some many only need a few.
  16. 16. „ Work Accommodations ScenariosA journalist with AD/HD experienced sensitivity to visual and auditory distractions. Theemployer provided the individual with a private, high-wall cubicle workspace in a low-trafficarea. The employer added an environmental sound machine to mask office noise.A social worker with AD/HD had difficulty completing handwritten paperwork in a neat andtimely fashion. The employer created electronic forms for the employee, which allowed himto type responses. The employer arranged computer files labeled by month to help theemployee prioritize open cases. The employer also sent email reminders of deadlines.An office worker with AD/HD experienced impulsivity and often interrupted co-workers byentering offices without knocking. The employer helped identify appropriate techniques forapproaching co-workers, such as keeping a daily list of tasks to discuss with others, thenemailing or calling to set aside time to talk about work-related projects.
  17. 17. Work Accommodations Scenarios• A retail employee with AD/HD often forgot the closing and cash-out procedures, which resulted in missed printouts of daily sale reports. The employer created a numbered checklist that identified each step for proper closing procedures and identified which reports to run from cash registers. This accommodation benefited all employees.• A delivery person with AD/HD had difficulty with time management. She spent excessive time making deliveries and would forget to return to the warehouse between daily runs. The employer provided a personal organizer watch that could be programmed to beep and display a written message many times throughout the day. This auditory and written prompt helped the employee move quicker from task to task, and helped remind her to return to the warehouse to gather her next load.
  18. 18. ResourcesExecutive Functioninghttp:/ in the Workplace and Compliance Series:Employees with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder You Tell Your Boss About Your ADHD? with Disabilities - ADA People with ADHD Protected Under the Americans With Disabilities Act?
  19. 19. Contact InformationJenna KnightADHD CoachNever Defeated CoachingCell – (508) 840-4784Email –