May 19


​ADD at Home and in the Workplace

Attention deficits (ADD) and hyperactivity (ADHD) can create havoc in the modern home and workplace with tight schedules, easy access to highly stimulating activities, and decreased opportunities for physical exertion. Until proper diagnosis is obtained, problems are often attributed to stupidity, poor motivation, and immorality. Once the disorder is recognized, many options for modifying difficulties become available. The first step is to recognize the part ADD plays in relationship and group situations. Further insights on ADD and families can be found in Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey (Simon & Schuster, 1995).


A vicious cycle happens when ADD children chronically fail to do chores, complete schoolwork, get up on time, and come home late. As punishments become more severe, children grow increasingly defiant, less cooperative, and more alienated. Over time, the youngster with ADD becomes the “problem child” and other family members feel ignored. When diagnoses or treatment is received after years of struggling, family members may have difficulty overcoming guilt or resentment. Several steps can help:


Similar vicious cycles happen when one person in a relationship has ADD. Symptoms of forgetfulness, disorganization, distractibility, and impulsiveness annoy the other person. That person becomes increasingly critical, and the partner with ADD withdraws; criticism mounts, and the added stress increases ADD symptoms. Often, spontaneous, creative ADD people and organized perfectionists are drawn to each other because they seek what they lack in themselves. This greatly compounds problems. However, there are solutions. The above steps can be adapted to couples with a few additional pointers:


Due to inexhaustible energy, the need to keep busy, and creativity, people with ADHD can be ideal workers in some jobs. Other people have difficulty keeping jobs due to lack of punctuality, disorganization, and outspokenness. ADD is a disability protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.1 Diagnosis and treatment by qualified professionals is a prerequisite to use of the law. Employers may be required to make “reasonable accommodations” (structure, reminders, reduction of distractions, and flexibility on deadlines), but employees need to demonstrate that they are making every effort to cooperate with treatment and learn strategies that manage symptoms.


Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1801 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20507, 202-663-4900, for information about this law

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