Talking About ADHD in the Workplace

Long time no posts. Sorry, life happened. And there was a lot which happened with life.

Today, I’m here to talk about talking to your employer about your ADHD. It’s not easy. Everyone is effected by ADHD a little differently. Some people are more prone to interrupting, some people can’t keep still, some people can’t focus. Some of us can’t communicate, some of us are emotional, some of us are too busy noticing everything else to notice the big detail right in front of us.

But we all have ADHD (or are deeply impacted by someone with ADHD). That’s why we are here, scouring the web, searching for that one thing to make it just a little bit easier…

And our ADHD does impact us at work. Whether we like it or not, we think we need it or not, there are things which we could receive to make life a little bit easier.

But we are prone to so much…we don’t even think about the half of it. We run the risk of oversharing, of missing important cues, and of blurting it all out.

So how do we let our employer know we have ADHD?

First lesson is to NOT DO IT RIGHT OFF THE BAT. I have told employers as I was filling out new hire paperwork about my ADHD. Guess what? I found myself without a job very quickly. People make the weakest excuses when they are trying to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

So, already, we are against the odds. We have to keep a secret and we have to wait. Lovely.

Next is to gauge how your employer reacts. I’m lucky, I’m in the field where ADHD is common. Well, a lot of people are treating ADHD in my field. Not a lot of people have it. But I have had employers who shift the blame onto parenting, say ADHD doesn’t exist, or just think I’m stupid/lazy.

Try bringing up ADHD during a casual setting and seeing if it is even safe to bring up how it effects you.

Newsflash: If your employer says it’s a parenting issue (i.e., doesn’t happen in adults), or it doesn’t exist, or any other misconception, it’s not up to you to correct them. Do not proceed forward with telling them you have ADHD, and honestly, I would start looking for a new job if you can. It’s probably not the best fit for you. Of course, this is a situation by situation problem.

The point of this is to see if it’s even safe to mention you have ADHD. This is true for anyone who lives in a state where you can get fired for existing. Don’t assume your ADHD puts you into the disability bubble, or that you can just sue them for wrongful termination. Good luck with that.

If your employer shows compassion and understanding towards ADHD, then you’re good. It’s still not the time to mention you have ADHD though.

With the company I’m currently with, email is the way to go. Thank goodness for that. I had a night where I didn’t sleep well, and I told my employer I was probably going to be struggling that day as my ADHD became more pronounced when I don’t sleep well.

She handled it well, asking what she could do to further assist me.

The reason why this went so well?

One is I found a workplace where I am accepted.

The big reason though?

I didn’t use my ADHD as an excuse. It stinks, because yeah, at the end of the day, our ADHD is an excuse for our behaviors (it’s more than that, but that’s what it seems), but mentioning that you do XYZ due to ADHD is just going to upset your employer and might land you on the streets.

What am I getting at? I’m telling you to do two things here. Don’t mention your ADHD right off the bat (in some situations, this may be okay), and don’t use your ADHD as an excuse.

Don’t get into trouble then mention you have ADHD. It takes time, but try to find the triggers of your ADHD and bring them up to your boss BEFORE you get into trouble. My big digs are meetings/trainings and lack of sleep. Both set me for failure. Lucky me, trainings are all you get when you are new to a company…I’m still working on the how to with handling trainings.

It takes time to find that right place, and that right place might not always be the right place for you. Best of luck!