What is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a developmental condition that affects attention, impulsivity and activity levels. Some individuals may have a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), the name used for this condition between 1980 and 19871,2.
There are three types of ADHD: predominantly hyperactive, predominantly inattentive and combined (which has both hyperactive and inattentive features).
How common is ADHD?
Studies suggest that between 0.6 % and 3.5 % of children in the UK have ADHD3-8.
The percentages vary from country to country.
Common challenges described by adults with ADHD
- Speaking/acting before thinking.
- Interrupting others.
- Jumping to a new topic of conversation without finishing the current one.
- Difficulty waiting their turn.
- Hyperactivity (more obvious in childhood):
- Difficulty sitting still.
- Being restless and fidgety, e.g. tapping feet, playing with pen, being over-talkative.
- Feeling restless internally.
- May be easily distracted.
- Poor concentration/daydreaming.
- Organisational challenges:
- Difficulty organising themselves and their work without practicing and automating procedures.
- Can start tasks but find it hard to finish them or miss out steps.
- Produce work of a variable quality.
- Frustration, as the individual is often aware of their difficulties.
Reasonable adjustments in work:
There are a variety of ways to support someone with ADHD. These include:
- Ask the person what they find harder to do and what has helped previously.
- Discuss adapting working hours, e.g. flexi-time or longer hours with more breaks within the day, to manage potential loss of focus.
- Discuss if sounds, people, movement are distracting – suggest placing the person away from the main flow of ‘traffic’ in the office.
- Use dividers or a booth to work in or try headphones to cut out sound if possible.
- Provide continued monitoring and arrange regular meetings – even 5 mins to check progress.
- Encourage and help to set up a diary system, task lists and reminders/alarms.
- Show how to save and ‘back up’ work.
- Set up a system to organise paperwork, e.g. using colour-coding.
- Always indicate priority of tasks given.
- Break tasks into parts.
- Reinforce processes – embedding may take time, not because of lack of understanding but because it takes time to get used to remembering to do the processes.