Questions & Answers for Employers & Employees
Should the employer be informed if the employee has ADHD?
The decision to disclose this diagnosis should be given careful consideration as disclosure could be helpful or it could be harmful. It could be harmful if the work environment stigmatizes the disability. It can also be harmful if the employer is uneducated about what ADHD is and assumes that it renders the employee unfit for assigned duties and terminates employment. On the other hand, disclosure may be beneficial, especially when thorough and accurate information about ADHD is shared the employer. Furthermore, if the employer finds that the employee is able to perform despite the diagnosis, the employer may consider making reasonable accommodations for the employee that will enhance the employee’s occupational functioning and productivity. One should weigh the pros and cons. As a result of HIPPA laws an employer or potential employer cannot ask if you have ADHD. An employer or potential employer cannot ask questions about your medical or psychiatric history. An exception, however, is if a job applicant or employee asks for reasonable accommodation for the hiring process or to optimize work performance. If the need for this accommodation is not obvious, an employer may ask for reasonable documentation about his/her disability.
Should ADHD be accommodated under ADA?
According to the US Department of Justice and Civil Rights, the ADA (American Disabilities Act) applies to businesses with 15 or more employees. This includes:
•state and local governments
•and labor-management committees
ADHD is covered by ADA. The ADA provides for mental illnesses, but as with physical impairments, the diagnosis of a mental illness or mental impairment is not sufficient to qualify an employee for protection under the Act.
The following conditions must be met for ADHD to qualify for coverage:
•It must cause significant impact or limitation
•The individual must be regarded as having a disability
•The individual must have a record of having been viewed as being disabled.
•The applicant must also be able to perform the essential job functions with or without accommodations to qualify as an individual with a disability under the meaning of the Act.
An employee must tell their employer that they have ADHD in order to be covered by the ADA.
An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship, such as being too expensive or creating other problems within the workplace.
Reasonable accommodations for an employee who has ADHD may could include but is not limited to:
• modifying work schedules or work environment
•reassignment to a vacant position
•adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies
More information about ADA can be found on www.ada.gov.
It should be pointed out that you don't have to have ADA standards met to be willing to help an employee to function better.
What kind of improvements can an employer expect to see in the employee’s work performance once the employer begins treatment for ADHD?
After receiving comprehensive treatment for ADHD, the employer should see significant improvement in several areas including work performance, organization, time management, ability to focus and relationships with co-workers. The mood of the patient often changes for the better with treatment. As a result the employer may notice a nicer work environment.
How can the employer help to optimize the performance of an employee that has ADHD?
Both the employer and the employee have rights under ADA. If the employer is aware of an employee that has untreated ADHD and If that employee is not performing his/her duties to satisfaction, the employer should consider suspending disciplinary action and offer the employee an opportunity to improve through medical treatment, counseling or coaching. The employee’s primary care physician or the physician treating the employee for ADHD can recommend a therapist. Many employers carry an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) who also can refer the employee to a professional that is qualified to treat ADHD. Counseling professionals, like those at PACC, may make suggestions as to how the work environment can be made more conducive to optimizing functioning and productivity for that employee. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with listening to the employee to discover what their challenges are and collaborating with him or her on creating solutions.
Questions & Answers for Families
Does ADHD run in the family?
It is a medical fact that ADHD is passed on genetically. If a parent has ADHD, there is a good chance that the offspring will have it.
What can the family do to help the family member that has ADHD?
It would be easier to advise you on what to avoid doing. However, it is recommend that the family seek counseling to be educated on what ADHD is and what it isn’t. Pinnacle Counselors teach families how to communicate, organize and socialize with a member that has ADHD. Finally, Pinnacle counselors help the family to heal and reduce chaos. As to what to avoid, the family should resist the urge to be overly critical of the family member that has ADHD. Most annoying things that a person with ADHD does is not done to be intentionally annoying, blatantly disrespectful, without effort, lazy or stupid. The family may be witnessing genuine ADHD symptoms that cannot be helped.
I’m concerned about the school system labeling my child. Should we inform my child’s school that my child has ADHD?
Many parents who have children with disabilities are concerned about the effects of being classified by the school system as being in special education or disabled. Parents are concerned about the social implications for their children. Many fear that this school intervention will result in a substandard education for their child and negatively impact their future. Families that are determined to avoid such intervention for their children can certainly do so. However, we recommend that parents do the research before making a decision. If the child has trouble succeeding without getting special accommodation by way of having an Individual Education Plan (IEP), other obvious risk factors come into play. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was initiated by the U.S. Department of Education to level the playing field for students with disabilities. For many students, these accommodations are the only way that they can succeed in grade school and in college. It is important to note that an IEP does not prevent student from continuing post graduate education. However, an IEP does not transfer to college with the student. Most colleges and universities require documentation to support continuing special academic accommodations. Pinnacle ADHD Counseling Center is here to help your child to transition from grade school to college. For more information on the IDEA, visit ed.gov.
How is it possible for a person with ADHD to focus on something that they are interested in yet have trouble remaining focused on those things that they don’t find interesting?
This is typically seen with ADHD. Without adequate brain stimulation, the ADHD brain is wired with a very short attention span. However, with activity that requires immediate response and gives immediate reward, attention and focus is easier. For example, people with ADHD, both adults and children, are drawn to certain video games. Gamers are quickly rewarded for paying attention. If they are not paying attention they lose. The activities that require attention in the games are psychologically stimulating. These activities do not require sustained focus, but they require the focus to shift constantly. The same principle applies in competitive sports. On the other hand, tedious work like reading and writing reports do not have those elements and therefore people with untreated ADHD don’t do well with it.
I have been carrying the load in this relationship and I am tired of it. What kind of improvements can I expect to see after my spouse receives treatment for ADHD?
The ADHD patient is not the only one in the family who suffers. It is common for the spouse, siblings and roommates to express negative feelings and describe the experience of living with the patient as being burdensome, unfair, overwhelming and sometimes embarrassing. In fact, ADHD has been the cause of divorce for many couples. The good news is that education about ADHD and treatment for ADHD can change the trajectory of emanate divorce. Additionally, treatment will result in a home life that is less chaotic. The relationship will improve as the patient will become a better listener, less impulsive and will be more likely to finish what they start. With counseling and coaching, the patient will communicate better, become more organized and manage time better. The patient’s spouse will also contribute to improvements in the relationship by being more understanding as they become more educated about ADHD. The spouse will also develop skills that compensate for the diagnosed spouse’s weaknesses and the two can be better able to collaborate on creating an equitable distribution of the household work. Don’t expect miracles in a short period of time. Counseling and coaching is an active process of relearning how to function better, not just at home, but also in social settings, on the job, and in the academic setting. Furthermore, the patient may have to learn how to regulate their emotions and emotional responses. The learning process takes time and practice. The entire household may need to practice new skills and habits in order to reduce the level of chaos experienced in the home, brought on by ADHD. On that note, it should be mentioned here that ADHD is passed on genetically and there is a very good chance that more than one family member has it. It is reported that 1/3 of the people diagnosed with ADHD will also have a child that is diagnosed with ADHD.