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How to Ask for Accommodations at Work (Without Coming Out About ADHD!)

The workplace has become a very challenging place, even for neurotypicals. Maybe it’s always been this way, but with the speed things happen today, increased expectations from bosses and clients and world-wide competition for your job, it certainly seems more stressful than ever. If you have adult ADHD, you add a big bunch of extra challenges to the mix:

  • Inattentiveness and lack of focus can lead to missed details, and make it challenging to accomplish work that requires concentration at the best of times,
  • Forgetfulness has very likely already led to more than one missed commitment and the resulting loss of credibility,
  • Disorganization has you feeling overwhelmed, distracted and jumping from one task to another,
  • Procrastination leads to last-minute, gun-to-the-head, high-stress production to meet deadlines, causing you great stress,
  • Or you play the hero, pitching in to put out other people’s fires while your own work goes undone,
  • and more.

These extra challenges make the workplace a veritable minefield of reprimands and disappointments, but what can you do about it?

The obvious answer, and the one most experts provide, is that “You should ask for accommodations at work.” That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Accommodations have been proven to help, and it’s likely they would help you, but there’s a little problem. How can you ask for and get accommodations unless you disclose your ADHD at work? And as we know, there are risks associated with that.

So what can you do? There are ways of asking for accommodations without disclosing your ADHD. If you don’t feel it’s safe to disclose your ADHD at work, or if you’d just rather not, you’ll be happy to hear there’s a “formula” that will help you to ask for “accommodations” without outing yourself. Use this model “script” to write down what you’d like to say, adapted to your specific circumstances, practice and use again and again with success:

Step 1. Describe your specific struggle and the circumstances surrounding it.

Step 2. Describe a possible solution you’ve thought of.

Step 3. Describe the benefits your boss, your co-workers and you will get from implementing this solution. WIIFY & M (What’s in it for you and me.)

For example, if there’s too much noise in your cubicle farm and you feel you’d be able do a better job preparing a particularly challenging report that you need to do regularly if you had a quiet place to do your work, you would apply the three steps as follows:

Step 1. Describe your specific struggle: Say something like, “I really struggle to stay focused on the XYZ reports because of all the noise in office.”

Step 2. Describe a possible solution: “I’ve thought of one possible solution: when I work on these reports, would it be possible for me to use a closed office, conference room, or to work from home?”

Step 3. Describe the benefits: “This will help me get it done much faster, so Joe can get started on his part sooner, and I’ll complete it with fewer or no mistakes so it’ll reduce the time you spend double-checking everything.”

You’ve done a good job of selling the solution by pointing out the benefits to all, it doesn’t sound like you’re whining… and no one mentioned ADHD!

So the formula is:

accommodations-ask-formula

 

“Job accommodation means modifying a job, job site, or the way in which a job is done so that the person with a disability can have equal access to all aspects of work.”1

Job accommodations may also include the use of tools such as headsets, assistive technology, training, job restructuring, job reassignments or even an administrative assistant.

One of my clients, an administrative assistant, had to review all of her supervisors’ direct reports’ expense reports once a week. This was tedious work that required a lot of focus and some quiet uninterrupted time. The challenge she faced was that she was expected to answer the phone at the same time, which led to numerous mistakes. Here’s the script she used:

Step 1. I’m really struggling with reviewing your direct reports’ expenses. The challenge is that each time I answer the phone, I lose track of where I was before the call. This leads to missing details or making mistakes.

Step 2. I know that I need two or three hours of uninterrupted time when I am most focused to ensure I don’t make these mistakes. I’ve found a possible solution: Could Carol take my phone calls on Tuesday mornings so that I can do the work uninterrupted?

Step 3. With this solution in place, I’ll be able to dramatically reduce mistakes and make sure all the receipts are there and accounted for. This will prevent you from getting calls from the Accounting Department or the company paying out more than allowed by receipts. With fewer interruptions, I may even be able to get it done faster.

Her supervisor thought it was an excellent idea and allowed the phone call transfers so my client was able to complete this work without mistakes. And they all lived happily ever after!

Come for a Taste Test of the ADDA Conference

ADDA-Conference

This year the ADD Association (ADDA) will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary in Orlando, Florida from July 24 to 27th during the ADDA Conference, a conference specifically for adults with ADHD and their loved ones.

I’ll be one the presenters. In the recording below I talk about two of the sessions I’ll be offering:

  • Overworked, Overwhelmed and on a Collision Course for Burnout
  • ADHD in the Workplace

If you’re still on the fence about attending this year, or you know you’re registered but don’t know which sessions to attend, ADDA has a solution to help you figure that out. They are offering a couple Taste Test sessions next week. You’ll hear various speakers talk about their sessions and what’s in it for you.

Click here for more information on the Taste Test sessions.

In the meantime, here’s a recording I did to tell you more about my sessions.

ADDA Conference

I hope to see you this July 24th to 27th at the ADDA Conference in Orlando, Florida.

ADHD Time Management Woes Part 3: Big Picture thinking

ADHD Time Management Woes Part 2: Overwhelm

ADHD Time Management Woes Part 1: The To-Do Book

Speaking at ADDA Conference this Summer

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been selected to speak at this summer’s ADDA Conference, the only international conference for adults with ADHD.

Overworked, Overwhelmed and on a Collision Course for Burnout has been selected.

I’m also organizing a panel discussion for spouses of ADHDers: For Non-ADHD Spouses Only! Creating a Strong Relationship with Your ADHD Spouse Non-ADHD Spouses Share Their Recipes for Success, along with Eva Green (TotallyADD), Victor Roggli (spouse of ADDiva, Linda Roggli), Dean Solden (Sari Solden’s husband) and Wilma Fellman who has agreed to moderate.

As ADDA Worplace Committee Chairperson, my team and I will be showing off our new presentation targeted at employers to sensitize them about the challenges of ADHD in the workplace.

and finally, I’m really excited about offering a full-day pre-conference workshop, Managing ADHD in the Workplace for HR Professionals, with Michelle Geiman, Director of Human Resources at Ohio University.

The conference takes place from July 24 to 27, 2014.

Interview on Global TV’s Morning Show with Camille Ross

 

Had a short interview on October 21st, 2013 on Global TV’s Morning Show with Camille Ross. For those people wondering about the resources I mentioned (I actually forgot one) here they are:

http://www.coulditbeadhd.ca  A short test to determine if you might have ADHD

http://www.add.org  An international organization that empowers adults with ADHD

http://www.caddac.ca  A Canadian ADHD Advocacy group

http://www.totallyADD.com  A great resource for webinars and an online adult ADHD community

http://www.coachlindawalker.com  (this is the one I totally forgot) I offer free ecourses on productivity for adults with ADHD and write a blog.

Interview on the Economic Impact of ADHD and It’s Big

Attention Talk Radio interview as Jeff Copper and I discuss the findings of a journal review on the Economic Impact of Childhood and Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in the United States.

Among notable information:
“The overall national annual incremental costs of ADHD ranged between $143 and $266 billion”.
Adult ADHD counts for $105 to $194 billion and yet are an area where very few resources are provided.

Another interesting fact that might get the business world’s attention is that a very large proportion of the costs are in the area of productivity losses and revenue losses at $87 to $128 billion. Of course, this is in 2010 US dollars. For Canada, with its population at around 10% of that of the US, the proportion would likely be about 10% of these figures give or take a billion or two.

ADHD adults lose an average of $10,532 to $12,189 in income per year compared with the average of non-ADHDers.

ADHD and Relationships on CJAD Radio

Last evening had the opportunity to be interviewed by Laurie Betito on the Passion Show on CJAD Montreal 800 AM.

Host of CJAD's Passion show, Laurie Betito, and ADHD Coach Linda Walker

Host of CJAD’s Passion show, Laurie Betito, and ADHD Coach Linda Walker

It was lovely meeting Laurie and having a chance to help more adults with ADHD have a better lives.

As you know, internationally, it’s ADHD Awareness Month. It’s time we take the stigma out of ADHD and help ADHDers live their full potential.

If after listening to the show you think you may have ADHD, there is a test you can complete at www.coulditbeadhd.ca

Listen to the show on ADHD and Relationships with the link below:
ADHD and Relationships with Laurie Betito and Linda Walker

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ADHD Adults Need to Focus to Thrive – a new group program

by Linda Walker

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter you know I’ve just launched a new program called Thrive! The Natural Approach to Optimal Focus and Effectiveness for Creative Geniuses.

In this video, I’ll cut to the chase to provide you with information so that you can decide if you want to know more.

I’d love to hear what you think of the video. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

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