The American's With Disabilities Act and ADHD

Health Writer

Does ADD qualify an employee for special accommodations?

The American's With Disabilities Act prohibits private employers (with more than 15 employees) from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in relation to application procedures, hiring, firing, job training, promotion and advancement, and conditions and privileges of employment.


ADD qualifies as a disability under this Act, if it can be shown that you are substantially impaired by ADD. To qualify you must be able to perform the job with reasonable accommodations. Employers are required to make accommodations, as long as those accommodations would not cause undue hardship on the company. Undue hardship would be if accommodations caused significant difficulty or expense to the company. In addition, companies are not expected to lower quality or production in order to make accommodations.

Companies are also not expected to supply personal items, such as glasses or hearing aids to an employee.

Talking to Your Boss

Many adults with ADD choose not to ask for special accommodations in the workplace because they do not want to disclose their ADD. They fear that letting their superiors know about their ADD will cause discrimination against them, or they may feel special accommodations might set them apart from their co-workers and create resentment.

Talking with your boss, with a pro-active approach will normally work the best. Rather than going to your boss with the attitude the company owes you these accommodations, you can approach with suggestions that might work for you. For example, if you consistently miss information in meetings, you might approach your boss with the suggestion that you are allowed to tape record meetings in order to review the information later, if needed. By taking the stress off your disability and restructuring your request to show how the accommodation can help the office in general or in your specific job, you may be able to receive accommodations you need to complete your job more efficiently.

Show Initiative

In addition, there may be things that you can institute yourself, without having to consult your boss. For example, you may start using a day planner, PDA or program the alarms on your computer to alert you to meeting times or deadlines. You may be able to stay a little later each evening or come in a few minutes early to accomplish goals without the usual office distractions. By working to find solutions yourself, even if you ask for additional accommodations, you will be showing your employer that you are accepting responsibility for your position and are willing to do what is necessary to get the job done.

See Also:

  • Self-Advocacy in the Workplace Whether or not you choose to discuss ADHD with your boss, there are steps you can take to manage your condition successfully in the workplace.* ADHD at Work Creativity, high energy levels and innovative problem solving are some of the characteristics of ADHD that enhance workplace performance. However, some ADHD traits make it difficult to perform well. Get tips to help manage your symptoms of ADHD in the workplace.