Taming Hyperactivity During Workplace Training

Deborah Health Guide
  • Recently I went through a training program at work - the second in as many months. I actually really enjoy training (the typical ADHD-er desire to learn new things), but as an adult with ADHD, it's a real challenge. Even for people without ADHD, training can be a difficult situation because few of us are in the learning mode in our jobs, the way we were in school. We're not accustomed to sitting and listening for hours at a time in a passive mode.


    No matter what your job, chances are that you'll eventually need to go through some training, attend a conference or attend a presentation. Make no mistake - the way you conduct yourself matters, even if you're not actually in the office. If you're fidgety and disruptive, you make a negative impression that could get back to your supervisor and co-workers.

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    Unfortunately, attending training sessions and presentations require that we control one of our hallmark ADHD behaviors: hyperactivity. Since sheer force of will probably won't be enough to get you through, I have some suggestions on how to minimize the impact:


    1. If you're attending a training session of more than an hour, arrange for impromptu breaks with the trainer ahead of time.


    Most trainers give you a break every two hours or so. You know how some dogs on a leash will lunge forward eagerly, even though it's choking them? That's how I am at the end of the two hours.


    What I generally do is talk to the trainer before the start of training and explain that I will probably need a short break every hour or so, and I promise to slip out of the room quietly. When I take my break, I take a brisk walk for a couple of minutes.


    If the trainer is reluctant to grant your request and you're comfortable disclosing your disorder, you can politely but firmly say, "I have ADHD. I'd appreciate it if you could accommodate me, as I really want to be able to focus on the training. I'm really interested in this topic."


    As someone who's given presentations and trained large groups of people, I can tell you that I would much rather that someone quietly slip out of the room for five minutes than be doing their impression of a rubber ball for two hours.


    2. Sit near the back of the room.

    First of all, if you fidget in the back of the room, it will be much less distracting for other participants than if you were seated in the middle or front of the room. Also, this will allow you to take those impromptu breaks with a minimum of disruption.


    3. Take some medication.

    Although I can't tolerate ADHD medication on a regular basis, I have a prescription for a very low dosage that I take when I really need to concentrate. It's just enough to keep me relatively calm.


    4. Bring a fidget toy.

    Fidget toys are a great way to get some of that kinetic energy out quietly. The only way this works during a training session or a presentation, however, is if your fidgeting isn't distracting to other people. This is another reason to sit in the back of the room.


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    What suggestions do you have to make a training session more bearable?

Published On: March 28, 2012