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How ADHD Can Be An Asset In The Workplace, According To Brooke Schnittman

How ADHD Can Be An Asset In The Workplace, According To Brooke Schnittman

ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. 8.8% of children ages 4-17 had ADHD in 2018. Having ADHD can be a challenge, but there are some benefits to having ADHD. From enhanced creativity to having more energy, people with ADHD can and do contribute positively to the workplace. However, stigma surrounding neurodivergence can affect the way professionals with ADHD are treated at work.

Many people with ADHD fear telling their colleagues or boss out of fear of backlash. Some people with ADHD are bullied as children. Many are othered in the classroom and put in separate study groups for students with neurodevelopmental disorders. This can have a significant impact on the way someone with ADHD views themself.

But ADHD experts are challenging the narrative that people with ADHD are less productive or successful. Brooke Schnittman, an ADHD coach who runs the Instagram account Coaching with Brooke, has been working with people with ADHD for twenty years. She recently wrote a book about ADHD called Activate Your ADHD Potential: A 12-Step Journey from Chaos to Confidence for Adults.

Schnittman has worked with some influential clients including celebrity chef and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia. The Iron Chef judge can testify to Schnittman’s expertise. She has worked with Schnittman in the past and plans to start working with her again. “Her pedigree and longevity in the field, her understanding and her education are incredible. She's extremely impressive,” Arpaia told me. “ADHD is a superpower. But like all superpowers we have to try and control it and then take the best out of it,” Arpaia said.

Schnittman agrees and also refers to her ADHD as a superpower. She has great advice for professionals with ADHD. She spoke with me about the benefits of having ADHD.

Having Energy

According to ADHD experts, people with ADHD tend to have more energy. This can be a huge benefit in the workplace especially when facing deadlines or important tasks. “We have an abundance of attention and energy. We can have highs and lows with energy. You have highs in dopamine and lows in dopamine. We need to understand our optimal energy levels, how long we can focus. Usually, optimal focus time is anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes,” said Schnittman.

“People who hyperfocus sometimes focus for two or three hours, but what happens is after we hyperfocus we crash. We need to be intentional about how to manage our energy,” she said. “If we have our weeks planned out, then we can focus our attention on what is important to us in the moment.”

Showing Empathy

Empathy for yourself and others is a huge part of having ADHD. Setting too high of expectations of yourself in the workplace can lead to disappointment and low self-esteem. Part of Schnittman’s journey with her own ADHD has been becoming more empathetic towards herself and other professionals with ADHD. She wants readers with ADHD to know that there are so many people grappling with the challenges of ADHD.

“If you have a new ADHD diagnosis, or you have had ADHD and have been battling it for a while, look for support. Start with people who get it and lift you up. You are not alone,” Schnittman told me. “And there's a whole community of people out there with ADHD that can support you. You can turn your weaknesses and your strengths into superpowers by accepting who you are.”

Being Creative

Schnittman believes many people with ADHD are artistic and thrive when creating projects, ideas, and more. “Many ADHDers are artists. They have this more creative way of thinking and when we can use that to our advantage, then we can innovate, and we can come up with products, inventions, and new ideas. The issue isn't the creation, it's the execution,” Schnittman told me.

And she’s right— many people with ADHD are incredibly bright, but struggle with completing the task at hand. This is why organization and time management are crucial for people with ADHD. Yes, creativity is a major benefit to the workplace and their teams, but people with ADHD need to make sure they read thoroughly instructions and follow guidelines for work assignments. Schnittman says many professionals with ADHD come to her while feeling discouraged. She wants people with ADHD to remember their strengths, which includes potentially being creative.

“Before people with ADHD come to coaching, they've lost hope. There's so much more hope, there's so much more confidence. Have a plan, feel supported. There's a community of other people around you. We’re going through this with you,” she said.

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