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Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Accommodation and Compliance: ADHD

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About Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects three to five percent of American children and adults. ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, and the condition can continue into the adult years. Many individuals with ADHD are undiagnosed until adulthood.

The common characteristics of ADHD are impulsivity, inattention, and/or over-activity. Failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and work tasks, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, inability to stay on task, leaving projects, chores and work tasks unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to and responding to details are the primary symptoms of ADHD. Although individuals may have both inattention and hyperactivity symptoms, many individuals predominantly display one symptom more than another. There are three subtypes of ADHD:

  • ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type: The major characteristics are fidgeting, talking excessively, interrupting others when talking, and impatience.
  • ADHD predominantly inattentive type: The major characteristics are distractibility, organization problems, failure to give close attention to details, difficulty processing information quickly and accurately, and difficulty following through with instructions.
  • ADHD combined type: The individual with combined type meets the criteria for both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA does not contain a definitive list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).

Accommodating Employees with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

People with ADHD may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. There are some general accommodations that explain how people with ADHD disregard themselves at work. 

General: Individuals with ADHD are often perfectionists and are hard on themselves.  They have trouble setting personal boundaries like knowing when to stop working and they set unrealistic expectations for themselves.  Someone who takes work home or stays late to finish work is often given more responsibility or a heavier workload because they appear to be able to get their work done. General accommodations include: 

  • Help identifying strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses
  • Reinforcing creativity  
  • Pointing out any signs that the individual is overworked – not taking vacations, staying at work late frequently, not eating lunch
  • Providing an ADHD coach to suggest ways to increase productivity and maintain a healthy work-life balance

JAN's Accommodation Solutions: Executive Functioning Deficits is a publication detailing accommodations for individuals with limitations related to executive functioning. These ideas may be helpful in determining accommodations. Be aware that not all people with ADHD will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What limitations is the employee experiencing?
  2. How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
  3. What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  4. What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
  5. Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
  6. Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?

Key Accommodations:

Hyperactivity/ Impulsivity: For individuals with ADHD, accommodations for hyperactivity/impulsivity might be beneficial.

  • Provide structured breaks as a physical outlet 
  • Utilize a job coach to teach/reinforce techniques 
  • Allow the employee to work from home 
  • Review conduct policy with employee 
  • Adjust method of supervision 
  • Use services of EAP
  • Provide private workspace 

Focus/Concentration: For individuals with ADHD, accommodations minimizing distractions might be improve performance.

  •  Provide a quiet work space
  •  Allow use of noise cancellation or white noise
  •  Work from home if no effective accommodations in office environment
  •  Uninterrupted work time
  •  Taking allotted breaks as needed
  •  Minimizing marginal functions to allow focus on essential job duties

Time management: For individuals with ADHD, accommodations assisting with staying on task is often helpful

  •  Assign a mentor
  •  Provide to-do lists
  •  Meetings to discuss expectations
  •  Assistance with prioritization
  •  Assistive technology (timers, apps, calendars, etc)

Strategies for the Individual with the disability

Getting to Work on Time: For individuals with ADHD, getting to work on time can often be difficult. 

  •  Have a routine of putting/keeping things in place 
  •  Prepare for the next day’s work the night before 
  •  Create checklists for yourself and others 
  •  Place sticky notes where you will see them 
  •  Turn off distractions – including cell phones 
  •  Use a timer or programmable watch to pace self 

Accommodation Ideas:

Situations and Solutions:

The following situations and solutions are real-life examples of accommodations that were made by JAN customers. Because accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, these examples may not be effective for every workplace but give you an idea about the types of accommodations that are possible.

Events Regarding Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Other Information Regarding Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


ADD Resources
ADD Warehouse
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Attention Deficit Disorder & Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder Assessment Resources
Attention Deficit Disorder Association
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder
Job Accommodation Network
LD Online
Learning Disabilities Association of America
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Center for Biotechnology Information
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Tourette Syndrome "Plus"