Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often thought of as childhood problems that affect the ability to focus and function, particularly in school. But kids with ADD and ADHD grow up to become adults, and their disorders don’t just magically vanish.
It is possible to get workplace accommodations to counter some of the problems caused by adult ADD or ADHD if it significantly affects your ability to function or the quality of your work — as long as the accommodations are reasonable and don’t prove an undue hardship for your employer. ADD/ADHD is covered under both the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
You don’t need to worry about the fact that you didn’t disclose your ADD/ADHD when you applied for the job or interviewed. You’re under no obligation to discuss a disability with your employer before you’re hired (or ever, if you don’t feel the need). You don’t want to wait, however, until your employer grows frustrated with you and issues you a formal warning letter or puts you on probation.
Reasonable accommodations for ADD/ADHD might include things like:
- Allowing you to wear noise-canceling headphones when you’re at your desk
- Moving your desk to a spot that gets less office traffic (and has fewer distractions)
- Putting a door or divider on your cubicle or giving you a private office
- Job restructuring that allows you to focus on one task at a time
If medication alone controls your ADD/ADHD, you probably don’t qualify for accommodations. If it doesn’t, however, you have every right to ask for your employer’s cooperation. If your employer dismisses your request unfairly or punishes you for “hiding” your disability in some way, it may be time to talk with an attorney about your legal options.