Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

ADHD affects around 1-2% of the population. Individuals with ADHD may vary in how their symptoms present depending on the level of demand on them, and characteristics of the environment they are working in (e.g. levels of noise). This can affect both attention and concentration. Although some people are still given the diagnosis of ADD, this term is less commonly used today, with ADHD used as the umbrella term. This acknowledges that most adults’ symptoms of ‘hyperactivity’ become less obvious as they grow older.

Workplace difficulties described by adults are as follows:

  • Impulsivity. Could be demonstrated by speaking and acting without thinking, interrupting others, difficulty waiting turn and lack of awareness of the context in which the person is behaving
  • Hyperactivity. In adults this may either be ‘observed by difficulties not sitting still’, or being restless and fidgety such as tapping feet, being over talkative. This is more obvious in childhood
  • Inattention. Can result in being easily distracted, having poor concentration, difficulty organising themselves and their work without practising and automating procedures, starting but finding it hard to finish tasks, starting a task and missing steps in the instructions

Workplace example:

Janet is working in an administrative post. She has different jobs given to her by different team members, often verbally. She unintentionally forgets some parts of a task and finds it difficult to prioritise without guidance, and can over-focus on one task and then miss some deadlines for others. Discussing these issues with her line manager has resulted in setting up and showing her how to use an electronic diary. All requests for work are now emailed to her from colleagues, rather than verbal instructions so they are all in one place. She also sits down with her line manager for five minutes a day to prioritise the action list and set deadlines. Increased confidence has been noted since this has been done.

Strengths noted :

  • Ability to focus on areas of high interest
  • Good entrepreneurial skills
  • Good at project work
  • Like variability
  • See the bigger picture
  • Can see innovative ways of tackling problems

Reasonable adjustments may include:

  • Providing written instructions and information
  • Providing continued monitoring to prioritise
  • Arranging regular meetings with your line manager
  • Asking to have new tasks presented in a structured way
  • Asking for clear deadlines
  • Being shown how to subdivide larger projects
  • Using colour coding to separate out tasks and easily identify them
  • Using IT to help with reminders e.g. task lists and alarms on calendars

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