Thursday, 30 July 2020

Working with ADHD

Without the appropriate adjustments and strategies, work can soon turn into a nightmare for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, with the right tools and support, people with ADHD can use their traits to their advantage and become happier employees.

How can ADHD affect people in the workplace?

It’s important to note that everyone with ADHD is different and will have different experiences of things. However, in their guide for employers, the Scottish ADHD Coalition asserts that there are both benefits and potential difficulties to presenting with ADHD.

Benefits include:
  • Attention to detail
  • Spontaneity and flexibility
  • Being motivated by shorter deadlines
  • Being extremely focused on tasks they are particularly interested in
  • Having boundless energy

The difficulties associated with ADHD are found within the symptoms, which are:
  • Lack of organisation
  • Being easily distracted
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Impulsiveness – acting without thinking
  • Hyperactivity – although adults are usually less active than children with ADHD

This is by no means a definitive list of symptoms, and people with ADHD may experience some, or all of these symptoms.

What causes the symptoms of ADHD?

ADHD can exist as a condition on its own, but more often than not, it presents alongside other conditions. These include autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia. The ADHD Foundation describes the condition as “... A neurodevelopmental condition affecting brain structure and neurotransmission”. Simply put, this means that a person with ADHD processes information differently and that different areas of the brain are stimulated when this information is processed.

How can employers support staff with ADHD at work?

Besides it being a legal requirement for employers to recognise ADHD as a disability under the 2010 Disability Act, it is sensible for an employer to learn how to support their employee to ensure they are happy and productive.

Some steps to supporting staff with ADHD include:

  • Researching ADHD so you have a better understanding. 
  • Having conversations with the individual – they will undoubtedly have insight into their condition which can help you put measures into place to support them.
  • Agreeing to flexible start and finish times to avoid your employee being punished if they can’t stick to specific times.
  • Using visual prompts such as calendars and charts for upcoming tasks and the order they need to be done.
  • Installing larger or duplicate screens, if working with computers, so information can be clearly seen without the need to memorise lots of information.
  • Providing instructions in written form rather than verbal.
  • Allowing for regular breaks, especially during long meetings.
  • Offering your employee regular review meetings and the opportunity to discuss their needs when required.
  • As those with ADHD can be easily distracted, provide a private work area if possible, with as little noise and unnecessary visual distractions as possible. If this is not possible in your line of work, headphones or earplugs could be beneficial.

How do I approach my employer about ADHD support in the workplace?

If you are starting a new job, or you aren’t receiving the support required, approach the matter with your manager or employer as soon as possible. You may already know what kind of support you need such as being permitted to wear headphones, or to take regular breaks to stretch and walk around. If not, do your homework so you can explain to your employer what you require and what information you have found on how this could be implemented. Your employer should be aware of their responsibilities, but if they aren’t, then they need to act upon them as soon as they do become aware. Show them the Employer's guide to ADHD produced by the Scottish ADHD Coalition as this may help them understand what they can do to support you at work. 

Visit the Scottish ADHD Coalition website >

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