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How To Tell Your Boss You Have ADHD

How To Tell Your Boss You Have ADHD

There are approximately 8.7 million adults living with ADHD in the United States. Although ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders, there are still stereotypes that make it hard to be open about having ADHD at work.

According to the American Psychological Association, ADHD is a “behavioral condition that makes focusing on everyday requests and routines challenging.” ADHD is usually diagnosed in early childhood, and sometimes gets overlooked in adulthood. Having ADHD at work can be tough because you may feel hesitant to tell your manager.

Board certified physician and ADHD clinical expert Dr. Sasha Hamdani believes people do not disclose their ADHD out of fear of being treated differently by their employer or colleagues. “People are afraid of not being thought of as capable or component in a workplace,” she says. “Stigma comes from a place of misinformation or lack of education about ADHD. A lot of times it’s preconceived notions that aren’t accurate.”

Dr. Hamdani doesn’t just work with patients and provide tips about ADHD on Instagram to her 389,000 followers. In January, Simon & Schuster released her book Self-Care for People with ADHD, which has a chapter that delves into the complexities of having ADHD in the workplace.

She also recently developed FocusGenie, a mobile app that helps people with ADHD further understand the inner workings of their brains. It’s the first ADHD related app created by a board certified psychiatrist. Dr. Hamdani and a few other ADHD experts spoke with me about how to disclose ADHD to an employer.

Build Trust

Building trust with your boss has to be done carefully. Without crossing any boundaries, get to know your boss more through work events or one-on-ones.

Work slowly to build a relationship so that you have an initial framework to build off of before discussing your ADHD. After you have spent time together, you can can start a dialogue about how things can improve rather than needing accommodations.

“The framing of how you approach is a little bit different, so that it looks like you're going toward a common goal,” Dr. Hamdani says.

Consult An Expert

Meet with an ADHD expert prior to disclosing your diagnosis. A physician or coach can give you inclusive language to share with your boss. They can clearly explain what your needs are, and how to communicate those needs in a professional setting.

Know that ADHD experts aren’t hard to find. Type in ADHD on instagram and a diverse array of doctors and coaches will appear. Make sure your search extends beyond social media. Take the time to find a doctor near you who specializes in ADHD and read reviews about them prior to making an appointment. You may want to consult a doctor about disability rights and documentation prior to telling your employer.

Have A Sit Down

Try to accommodate yourself in the workplace before disclosing your diagnosis. Really find out if you work in a neuroinclusive environment. Are there other employees who have disclosed their ADHD? How did it go, and were their needs met? Consider all of this prior to having a sit down with your manager.

“If you do have the sit down conversation with your boss after trying to accommodate yourself and they don't understand, and it's really impacting your life in a negative way, then you should definitely get out,” says ADHD coach Brooke Schnittman, who runs the instagram account Coaching with Brooke.

Be Authentic

Physicians and coaches who have ADHD believe that people with ADHD should be unapologetically neurodivergent in the workplace and beyond.

“I am habitually, chronically, forever, open, honest, and divulge everything," says Dr. Edward Hallowell, founder of the Edward Hallowell ADHD Centers. The Harvard alum wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until he was 32-years-old. He believes that professionals should be transparent about ADHD in the workplace.

“I think we ought to live in a world where you can describe your brain without being afraid of being penalized,” he says. And if you feel you are being penalized or judged for your ADHD, it may be time to find a new place to work.

Don’t let the lack of inclusivity at one place get you down about future endeavors at another. Having ADHD can be an asset in the workplace, something that gets overlooked due to stigma and stereotypes. “Individuals with ADHD have so many strengths. We are creative, We are inclusive. We think outside of the box. We can hyper focus. We add so much value,” Schnittman says.

“Companies should have all different types of learners. Neuroinclusive, neurodiverse, neurotypical. We complement each other.”

Original article on Forbes

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