Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) causes poor memory, inattention, and easy distractibility. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also causes these symptoms, with the addition of hyperactivity and impulsivity. According to ADDitude Magazine, ADHD affects about 5% of adults in the United States and 9% of children. That’s about 8 to 9 million adults who are living with ADHD.
Children who live with ADD or ADHD are protected from discrimination in school by state laws. Adults with ADHD are also protected in the workplace to ensure they have equal opportunities and can complete their job functions properly. Only about 50% of adults with ADHD maintain full-time jobs, compared to 72% of adults who hold down full-time jobs without the disorder. Regulations under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may allow people with ADHD to ask for specific accommodations so they can adequately complete the job application process or perform job functions. However, there are some restrictions on how an employer can reasonably accommodate an employee’s requests.
If you’re living with ADD or ADHD, you can obtain employment and keep a steady job with focus, determination, and cooperation from your employer. Requesting reasonable accommodations from your employer may help you maintain acceptable job performance. By learning more about the ADA act, including who and what it covers, you can better understand what’s defined as “reasonable accommodations for ADHD workers.”
The ADA was passed in 1990 and is designed to combat workplace discrimination against employees and potential employees with disabilities. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other civil rights agencies are responsible for ensuring employers abide by the law. However, not every employer must follow these regulations. Your employer must follow ADA legislation if it has 15 or more employees and is a:
To be covered under the ADA, you must be defined as “living with a disability.” This means that your ADHD or ADD significantly limits or restricts a major life activity, including speaking, performing manual tasks, learning, or working. If your employer must follow ADA regulations and you are also covered under these guidelines, reasonable accommodations must be made to ensure you can complete the job application process and perform your job properly. If you voice concerns about performing your job and need accommodations, your employer must work with you to provide these accommodations, as long as they won’t put the employer under undue hardship and stress.
Some examples of reasonable accommodations in the workplace for ADHD or ADD include the following:
In most cases, you should be granted one of these reasonable accommodations. However, if your job requires you to also answer the phone, wearing headphones while working may not be an approved accommodation. Your employer should be willing to compromise with you on what you need to perform your duties. For example, he or she may allow you to listen to music softly through a stereo so you can still hear the phone ring.
In order for your accommodation request to be granted, it must also make sense. If your ADD or ADHD is considered a disability, you may need to request more frequent short breaks to help expand your attention span. While your employer may allow this, he or she might deny your request if you ask for a shorter shift or an extra hour for your lunch break.
Since ADHD workplace accommodations should be granted by employers as long as they’re reasonable, there are many jobs available for people with ADD or ADHD. With the right work environment and tasks that you find interesting, you should be able to find a satisfying career, even while living with ADD or ADHD. Reviewing the best potential job opportunities, their growth outlook, and why these career paths are beneficial for individuals with ADD or ADHD can help you with the scope of your job search.
The job search process requires you to dedicate time and resources to find suitable employment opportunities that will also accommodate your ADD or ADHD. It can be hard to focus on finding open positions that spark your interest for hours on end. Therefore, it’s important to:
To find the best job for you, you’ll need to identify your job interests and abilities, then decide how to market these abilities to potential employers.
You’re more likely to succeed at a job you enjoy, so it’s important to first identify what interests you in terms of employment. Make a list of the hobbies you enjoy or interests you have. Think about what you spend your free time doing and what tasks you’re able to focus on for long periods of time because they’re exciting to you. Once you have your list, you can begin to research jobs and careers that incorporate these tasks in their everyday duties.
Consider what you’re good at doing and what comes naturally to you. Make a list of your natural abilities and the fields you have training in. Also, include any interests you have that you have developed skills in, such as working on cars or creating fliers on your computer, for example. For each ability you list, explain how and why you excel at it. Write a sentence or two about how this trait is useful and why you believe you’re better than most at performing the tasks you’ve mentioned.
Now that you’ve identified your abilities and traits that employers may find appealing, figure out how you’ll market these skills. While a potential employer will be reviewing the bullet points on your resume, you’ll need to fill in the gaps and know how to market yourself to convince him or her you’re right for the job. In many cases, a job is offered to the potential candidate who could sell him or herself better than the candidate who has more experience or skills.
To practice how you’ll market your abilities to a potential employer, video yourself talking about your skills. When you watch the video, you’ll learn more about which skills you can easily sell and which ones you need to work on. Keep practicing talking about the importance of your skills until you feel comfortable explaining why you’re right for a job.
Customize your resume and cover letter to the job and company you are applying for. Ensure you market your abilities and skills as best as you can on paper. Provide contact information and be available to speak with potential employers to learn about the next steps in the application process.
It’s important to always follow good job interview etiquette by dressing professional, arriving early, and maintaining a level-headed composure. As a job seeker with ADD or ADHD, you should also ensure you:
Before attending your interview, practice answering interview questions with a friend or family member. This will help ensure you can maintain focus and manage your nerves in this stressful situation. Interview practice can also help you build confidence so you feel better prepared during the real interview.
There are ADD and ADHD organizations that offer job and career services for individuals living with this disorder, including: