Hello fellow A.D.D/A.D.H.Ders!
How many of you have (or had) trouble at work due to your disability? What have you done about it? Have you asked your employer for certain accommodations or for just some plain understanding? Have you found ways to accommodate for your disability without having to let your employer know? How many of you have lost your job(s) because you weren’t able to have the same accommodations at work as you did when you were in school?
Four of my eight jobs ended due to the limitations of my A.D.D. Now anyone who knows me personally will tell you I am a hard worker. I come in first and leave last. I try to always have a smile on my face and do more than what is required of me. Yet my downfall at work has always been the inability to keep up with the workload. I put in a fifty to sixty hour week and am still not able to get everything done as fast as my employers require.
At my last job, one of my co-workers asked (more than once) why I got so little done in such a large amount of time compared to my predecessor. In reality, it takes me at least twice as long as others to get work done because my A.D.D brain processes things a lot slower. Think of my brain as an older computer. The more data you store on your old computer, the slower it runs. On the other hand, a newer computer (or someone that doesn’t have A.D.D) is able to store more data without being overloaded, and is able to work faster. Of course, I’ve never disclosed this information to any of recent employers or my co-workers. Why? Because admitting you have a disability (even with documentation of proof) could make things at work worse instead of better.
As A.D.D/A.D.H.D children, we are covered by the Individuals with Disability Act. This act requires school districts to provide disabled children with the accommodations that are stated in their I.E.P. (Individual Education Plans). As a student, my I.E.P stated that I was allowed extra time to complete my tests. My teachers were also required to assign me only half of the problems or questions for homework.
As adults, we fall under the Americans with Disability Act. Ironically, the same accommodations we had as children are not necessary available to us as adults. The Americans with Disability Act states that employers must give employees with disabilities “reasonable” accommodations. The word “reasonable,” makes the whole statement very ambiguous. How I describe “reasonable” and how my employer might are two different things.
In her book, A.D.D in the Workplace, Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau advises us to seek accommodations only as a last result because “A.D.D. is an invisible disability that is poorly understood and often interpreted negatively by employers. If you are having difficulty functioning on the job and then decide to disclose you’re A.D.D, you run the risk of being seen in an even more negative light (Nadeau, pg. 204).”(1)
Before my last job was terminated, I remember being asked to help my fellow co-workers to stuff envelopes one afternoon. During this time, another one of my co-works, who I will call Nick, mentioned in passing that he had A.D.H.D. Once Nick left the room, the Business Administrator quietly asked that we re-check Nick’s work. It was this type of negativity that I wished to avoid.
Even in a perfect world where we can admit our disability without fear of being discriminated, I wouldn’t expect the same accommodations as I did as a child. I would not expect to be given extra time to complete my work, or even to have my workload cut in half. Instead, I would request that I be given a part-time assistant to assist me with certain tasks. Even if I had an assistant for as little as ten hours a week, I know I could have gotten my work done more efficiently and on time. I realize that in this economy employers are looking to save money, but if we can’t get similar accommodations as when we were in school, what is the point of getting them at all?
What do you think, dear readers? Should we hope for similar accommodations at work as we were allowed at school? Has your A.D.H.D/A.D.D helped or hinder you are work? For me, there was one job where my A.D.D helped me to shine. However, I will discuss that in a later post.
Until next time, dear readers;
(1): Nadeu, Kathleen. (1997) ADD in the Work Place. New York & London: Brunner-Routledge.