ADHD in the Workplace: Identify and Ask for What You Need

Cindy JobsUncategorized

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” —

ADHD is an American Disabilities Act-recognized disability, which would allow employees to ask for reasonable accommodations. However, most of my clients choose not to disclose their ADHD diagnosis to their employers. 

The uncertainty of how their diagnosis would be received far outweighs the perceived benefit.

Helpful tips from CHADD on whether or not an ADHD diagnosis should be disclosed:

Reasons for not disclosing:

  • If you do not need accommodations
  • If you are performing well on the job
  • If you feel that disclosing your disability will cause your supervisor and co-workers to discriminate against you

Reasons for disclosing:

  • If you fear losing your job because you haven’t received the accommodations you need to succeed
  • If you are about to be fired because of performance issues

Without revealing a diagnosis, here are some options to help increase productivity and success in the workplace.

  1.  Request to record meetings for later review. This has been a recognized study skill for years and is of benefit in the workplace also.
  2.  Request assignments are delivered via the written form. Although we want to have faith in our memories, most of us forget things. Having tasks documented in writing serves as both a reminder and a roadmap for success. If the requestor does not document the request, document your understanding of the request back to ensure clarity.
  3.  Ask clarifying questions. When requests are made, ensure all necessary details are precise, don’t assume. It’s entirely fair and responsible to request specifics, including project format (e-mail, word document, spreadsheet, Powerpoint, etc.), due date, required stakeholder participation, etc. Knowing the full requirements of the task is an opportunity for increased success.
  4.  Request distraction mitigation. Ask to wear headphones, turn the desk in a different direction, put up a sign requesting limited interruptions, turn off electronic notifications, etc.
  5.  Clarify priorities. Most of us have more priorities than our time allows. Sometimes ADHD makes all tasks appear equal when they probably aren’t. It is responsible to request clarification about prioritizing assignments. 
  6.  Set boundaries around meetings. Most of my clients crave human connection (and the distraction it may bring). Ask for permission to set time limits on meetings. For example, “I need to transition to my next priority in 30 minutes. Does that give us enough time for what you need?”
  7.  Request modified work hours. ADHD or not, people’s bodies operate on different time clocks. If your work is not dependent upon firm start/stop times, ask to adjust working hours to when your brain and body are at peak performance.

For additional information on ADHD in the workplace, check out these resources:

CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder): Workplace Issues

ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association): Impact of ADHD at Work

SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management): ADHD in the Workplace

If you feel you’d benefit from a complimentary 30-minute Discovery Session on how ADHD may be affecting you at work, send an e-mail to, and we can set an appointment to chat.

Cindy Jobs

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