About Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a diagnosis applied to children and adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common behaviors include distractibility (poor sustained attention to tasks), impulsivity (impaired impulse control and delay of gratification), and hyperactivity (excessive activity and physical restlessness).
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
Accommodating Employees with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
People with ADD may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with ADD will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
Situations and Solutions:
A case manager with ADD has difficulty with getting the required documentation completed.
He works in a cubicle in a noisy open area that limits his ability to focus and concentrate. He knows that a private space is out of the question, but feels if he could change his office hours, he may be better able to finish his work on time. His supervisor agreed that the office can get hectic when everyone is there, so it was agreed upon that he would come in two hours early, not only before his co-workers’ arrival, but also when he has the most mental acuity and ability to focus.
An office worker at a large elementary school was responsible for receiving copy orders and providing the completed copies to teachers within two days.
Due to his ADD, he was unable to complete the handwritten orders on time with the constant disruption of the teachers and with no organizational system. The worker’s supervisor stepped in and provided a typed form that required the teachers to supply a uniform amount/type of information. Daily labeled baskets for orders and materials allowed the employee to see which orders needed to be done first, allowing the copies to be completed in the two-day time frame.
A reporter with ADD had a difficult time with distractions while working in a crowded, busy, and noisy newsroom.
She asked for the accommodation of working from home when she was on a deadline. The employer was concerned about her being away from the other employees, as well as being further away from the downtown area where most of the news occurred., but offered her a trial accommodation of working from home, contingent upon her ability to get to the scene of breaking news quickly. She reported back later that the accommodation was so highly successful that the employer had decided to provide telework on a long-term basis.
An employee with ADD disclosed to her employee after being written up for profuse tardiness, stating that because of her medical condition, she can never be on time and therefore cannot be held to the same standards other employees are.
The employer informed the employee that they can hold her to the same standards, but would be willing to accommodate her by allowing her a twenty minute grace period daily, where she would make up the time difference. The employee was given a four week trial period and failed to get to work within that twenty-minute window. As a final step, the employer provided her with ideas from a JAN publication. The ideas included: keeping a routine of putting and keeping things in their place (keys, phone, glasses), preparing for the next day's work the night before, creating a checklist for herself and others, placing sticky notes on the door, dashboard, or wherever she would see them, turning off distractions – including a cell phone, and setting a timer or a programmable watch to pace herself.
An employee with ADD who had difficulty remembering procedures for setting up the various catering presentations she was responsible for requested written instructions for each one.
Her supervisor responded with the provision of a complete and detailed description of the procedures for each presentation. However, when trying to use the instructions, the employee claimed they were too detailed and she needed more of an action plan with less description. The supervisor reworked the procedures by using a color-coded system. The main action steps were highlighted in one color while the instructions in more detail followed but were highlighted in another color, helping the employee to differentiate between the two immediately.
JAN Publications & Articles Regarding Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Consultants' Corner Articles
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