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Readers Respond: Telling About Attention Deficit Disorder at Work - To Tell or Not To Tell?

Responses: 37


Updated April 07, 2010

From the article: Telling About ADD at Work?
The following question was sent in by an About.com Reader: "I just started a new job and I am already experiencing some problems. Should I carry on letting others think what they want or should I tell people that I have ADD?"

Please share your own experiences and thoughts. Is it helpful to tell about your ADD at work or not? Share Your Thoughts

Telling at Work

My experience is that the work environment becomes much easier if you tell about your ADHD, but also that you somehow always will be thought of as "the guy with ADHD" - there are no easy answers, but for me it has worked out much better at the workplaces that I've told about my ADHD as compared with not telling. At least tell your boss and ask that person for advice regarding telling your co-workers.
—Guest jimmy

To Tell or Not to Tell?

I have told one of my bosses and not the other. I think it depends on who they are and how they manage in the workplace. When I shared this with my one boss, she completely understood because her daughter deals with the same thing. So, when I meet with both bosses at the same time, one has and understanding of my situation and the other just looks at me as "distracted" and no reason why I am this way. I would like to let him know but feel I will be judged as "slow" or that there's something "wrong with her." So it's 50/50 at this time.

Not Yet

I would never reveal it unless I decided there was some accommodation I needed that I couldn't get any other way. Depending on the individual it might be OK to say you are "easily distracted."

Telling Others

This was one of the most vexing questions for me too when I was diagnosed about six years ago. Generally today, I lean toward not telling people - for two reasons. 1) I don't want to find myself using it as an excuse. It's my responsibility to make my ADHD less of an issue to others. 2) Others don't really know what it is anyway. When do I tell people? If I am in a continual and long-term working relationship and I believe knowing me better will help us be more productive together - just as my knowing them better will give us the same benefits.


I would say, yes. Sometimes, I mention it during the interview or after I get the job. I simply say - for your information rather than an excuse, I have ADHD. So far so good, for me and if they don’t like it, I most likely wouldn’t want to be working for them. In some previous jobs I just couldn’t do the work. The boss saw I was trying my hardest and that I was good in the other aspects but could tell something wasn’t right. Though he didn’t really know what was going on. Hey, this just reminded me to take my meds! Bye. P. S. I’m 60 now did not get help until my 50s, so I lost a ton of jobs and couldn’t figure out why. A pretty smile does not get one through life alone. Cheers...
—Guest valerie j c

Know What You Need in Workplace

I can identify with valerie j c. I got fired from more jobs than I can count. I thought I had some type of personality disorder. I've been in my current job for more than 2 years and have only told people when I have an ADD moment that is unusual behavior for me. The employer might not care about ADD as a disability, so don't count on it to solve your problems. Tell people as something ADDish comes up. If there is a problem, try to offer a solution when you share with a supervisor. Use ADD as a reason not an excuse. REMEMBER most adults think ADD is something boys in elementary school have. Don't assume that employers will believe you have ADD or that it effects you work habits. Be sure to have as much information about Adult ADD as you can so you can educate. I've found information on line from the Mayo Clinic. As a credible source some people will come around more quickly when I've printed it and showed it to them. You may be lucky and ADD will not affect your performance.

Don't tell

I've had ADD all my life struggled with my jobs, never staying longer than a few years. I was finally diagnosed with ADD and given Adderall. I could not believe the difference Adderall made for me at work. Though I still had to work to compensate for the disability, the medication made it so much easier. I have been at my current job for over 5 years. The first 3 years while I was on the medicine but I hadn't told anyone of my diagnose I did great. I was given extremely strong performance reviews with the highest level ratings. I decided to tell my boss that I was ADD because I felt I needed noise cancelling head phones. From that point on things have gone downhill. He did not give me any accommodation, he started blaming me for the need to work overtime, even though he was the one who asked me to do it, he denied doing so. He lowered my performance rating saying I was over delivering and now he micro manages me. I have become his scapegoat and he is trying to get rid of me. DON’T TELL.
—Guest ADD all my life

to tell or not to tell

I'm 58 and finally diagnosed! I've worked all kinds of jobs a real Jack-of-all trades, and fired or let go from all of them. It's depressing and frustrating, you feel like a failure and yet you know you have so much potiential but don't know which way to turn. I feel that telling your boss that you have ADD is comparable to coming out of the closet. Predjudice, tolerated acceptance politically correct all come to mind but bottom line the almighty dollar comes to the rescue for employers and keeping customers happy, and productive employees.
—Guest Rose

Tell or not telling

I ask myself this question, just a few days ago. I have ADD. I got the Big answer: “Yes its ADD” in 2007. I always thought something is not right – so in 2004 I heard about ADD. But as I go along I don’t tell people I have ADD. I just say to them I am dyslexic. For the rest they think it’s my Netherlands nature that comes through. ☺ So now for the first time, am on medication, just a week and a half. ADD is still not solved but it helps me to sit still and focus. I’m a Graphic Designer and spelling is a big problem. I was fired from 1 job. But if the pressure gets to much I quit. So I’m working now for 5 years at this one job. I told my boss, I have ADD. So he said to me, you are just crazy. He always misunderstands me (?). So I told my co-worker – she said, I hope you get better now. So, if I am sick. People don’t know how to deal with us. I want to tell people about it but some people think you are mentally ill if you got ADD.
—Guest ME


I think I might have ADD! I was always a stay at home home with my kids. I recently started working and have noticed I have trouble concentrating. It seems co workers are starting to get frustrated with me because I keep asking for the same directions more than once. Sometimes I feel like I space out too much, even when my children are telling me about their day at school. I have scheduled a dr' s appointment to see if i do have ADD. I'm not sure if I should mention this to my supervisor before I get fired. I work at a place with people of disabilities so I'm hoping they are understanding.
—Guest Sylvia

Notify in writing!!

Despite the stigma, it is critical to notify in writing. You may need accommodations at some point and won't have a leg to stand on if your request is not in writing, documented, and backed up by a health care professional.
—Guest Ken

Downplaying the Expose

Circumstances dictate when, if and how I reveal my condition to others. A direct confession has - in my experience - most usually been met with by undesirable reactions from others whom without a disorder themselves simply cannot fathom my behavior which affects their judgement of my character and leads to interpersonal chaos down the road. I find instead of saying "I have ADD" I get a better response by stating only the fact that "I was diagnosed with ADD when I was a child" which implies the progress and reiterates growth leading them to conclude themself that they don't have all the pieces of the puzzle and less inclined to jump to a misguided conclusion. I love having ADD and how my mind works but I am constantly misunderstood by people that would otherwise be of great influence which has ruined my life and destroyed me to the point of depression.
—Guest Jer

DONT TELL.. if you can help it!

I've made the 'mistake' of divulging my ADHD to my work colleagues ~ on a number of occasions/jobs. And I can highly recommend, if possible, NOT to say a word about it. Most people don't fully understand what ADHD is and therefore treat you like an idiot. This is my feeling (today). I'm tired of being treated as if I have a 'retarded' brain. I am super intelligent, with a 'well above average IQ', extremely creative and passionate. I don't need others with their (although not intentional) judgements of me, making life more difficult than it already is for me ~ at work.
—Guest ADHDme Guest

yes, tell work!

If you can handle the stigma, then YES; if you are worried about getting fired over it... then read the law. Can they fire you for depression, insomnia, how about being in a wheel chair? NO! These are disabilities... the 1971 American's With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a legal tool to protect people from bigotry. You were born this way, and as long as you are doing your best and asking for help, then you're doing your part, your boss is NOT your doctor...
—Guest medotcom


Hell no! Are you crazy?! You're just asking to be fired.
—Guest Ashley

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Telling About Attention Deficit Disorder at Work - To Tell or Not To Tell?

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