Data and Statistics
Cost of ADHD
The Science of ADHD
The Importance of Science
Understanding Research Studies
Levels of Evidence for ADHD Interventions
Treatment of ADHD
Complementary and Other Interventions
Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback)
Fish Oil Supplements and ADHD
Nutrition and ADHD
Questions and Answers
Carrying Your Medication
ADHD, Sleep and Sleep Disorders
Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Tics and Tourette Syndrome
Professionals Who Diagnose and Treat ADHD
Hospital and University ADHD Centers
Insurance and Public Benefits
The Insurance System
Paying for Medications
Private Health Insurance
Public Health Insurance
Frequently Asked Questions about ADHD
Myths and Misunderstandings
Glossary of Terms
ADHD in the News
Fact Sheets on ADHD
For Parents & Caregivers
Parent Training and Education
Social Skills Interventions
Coexisting Conditions in Children
Pediatric Bipolar Disorder
Substance Abuse and ADHD
Common Coexisting Conditions in Children
Preschoolers and ADHD
Behavioral Therapy for Young Children
ADHD and Childcare
Diagnosing ADHD in Adolescence
Treatment of Teens with ADHD
ADHD Information for Teens
Parenting Teens with ADHD
Questions and Answers
Teens with ADHD and Driving
Teens and Driving
Medication Abuse and Diversion
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Requesting an Evaluation in Public Schools
Tips for Working with the School
Tips for Talking to Teachers about ADHD
Finding the Right College
Disclosing ADHD During the Admissions Process
Succeeding in College with ADHD
Scholarships & Financial Aid
Questions and Answers
Tips for Completing Homework
How to Communicate with your Child’s Teacher
Homework Help for ADHD
Surviving the Holidays with ADHD
Diagnosis of ADHD
Diagnosing ADHD in Adults
ADHD and the Military
How to Succeed in the Workplace
Laws and Legal Protections
Americans with Disabilities - ADA & ADAAA
Legal Rights in Higher Education and the Workplace
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Finding an Attorney or Legal Advocate
Living with ADHD: A Lifespan Disorder
Women and Girls
ADHD Medication and Pregnancy
ADHD and Driving
Organization and Time Management
Relationships & Social Skills
Marriage and Partnerships
Social Skills in Adults with ADHD
Mastering Social Skills
Time Management: Step-By-Step with a Day Planner
Apps for ADHD
For Healthcare Professionals
Clinical Practice Guidelines
The ADHD Diagnostic Process
Diagnosis in Adults
Diagnosis in Children
Clinical Practice Tools
Evaluation and Assessment Tools
Rating Scales and Checklists
Treatment of Adults
The Role of Medication
Teacher Training on ADHD
Tips for Teachers Video Series
Recursos en español
Tips and Resources
Medical Benefit Program
Start a Group
Current CHADD Volunteers
Volunteer Leader Center
Login to your CHADD email
Edit your website
Other Local Support Resources
Find a Study
Post a Research Study
Young Scientist Awards
CHADD's Amazon Store
P2P On Demand Webinars
CHADD Advocacy Manual
Training & Events
2018 Conference on ADHD
2017 Annual International Conference on ADHD
2017 Conference Web Site
Pre Conference Handouts -Thursday 11/9/17
General Conference Handouts -Friday 11/10/17
General Conference Handouts - Saturday 11/11/17
General Conference Handouts - Sunday 11/12/17
Conference Program Book
Order the 2017 CHADD Conference In-A-Box
ADHD Awareness Month
ADHD Awareness Month Calendar
Ask the Expert
Ask the Expert Educator Edition
Parent to Parent Program
P2P On Demand Sessions
Family Training on ADHD In Your Community
Teacher to Teacher
Teacher to Teacher - School System
Calendar of Events
Training for Professionals
Health Care Providers
Training for Parents
Transitioning to Adulthood
Find a Chapter
Local Affiliate Resources
Tools and Resources
Start a Group
Recruitment & Retention Tools
Renew My Membership
The ADHD Tool Kit
Membership Types and Benefits
Get Listed in CHADD's Resource Directory
JOIN CHADD - International Membership
JOIN CHADD - US Membership
Attention Magazine Subscriptions
Attention Magazine - Digital Editions
Membership Perks - Dining Shopping & More
CHADD Discount Advantage Programs
Mission and History
National Resource Center
Boards and Staff
Board of Directors
Professional Advisory Board
Public Policy Committee
CHADD Funding Sources
Advertise with CHADD
2018 Annual Meeting - Exhibitor Information
Jobs at CHADD
Report a Problem
Gifts that Lead
Gifts that Sustain
Gifts that Double
Other Ways to Donate
Corporate Partner Members
Donate Your Vehicle
ADHD Weekly Newsletter
Ready to start your career?
Join the discussion.
You―or your young adult son or daughter―may be entering the workforce this season as a recent high school or college graduate. For young adults affected by ADHD, this new opportunity in adult life brings challenges to succeeding in their careers.
Many young adults with ADHD enter the work world unaware that they can ask for support if needed, and that they must take the initiative to arrange workplace accommodation, says CHADD Professional Advisory Board Co-Chair Craig Surman, MD. Dr. Surman is an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and often works with young adults.
Parents and teachers may have provided support for their needs in the past, but in the working world, young adults need to learn to be proactive in creating and asking for what they need, Dr. Surman says.
Entering the workplace when you have ADHD
One of the best ways to be ready for the working world is to experience it as part of an internship or a shadowing program. Some college and high school students will have the chance to intern as part of their academic programs; or they may have to find an internship in their field by conducting a search before graduation. Other young adults might find jobs in entry-level positions where they can learn skills to apply toward their careers.
Part of the goal of this early work experience is to learn what factors challenge you or support you in the workplace that may complicate the challenges presented by ADHD. Dr. Surman says this could be things such as learning to use calendars and planners, email reminders, knowing sources of distraction and how to avoid them, and learning when and how you can rely on other people for more help.
“If people have the experience of internships, they will have the chance to practice some of these things,” he says. “If people know what kind of structures around them help them do their thing, they can be successful. You need to practice how you will adapt to an environment before you really get into it.”
Planning your accommodations
It’s preferable for a young adult—and any employee affected by ADHD—to create his accommodations privately, Dr. Surman says. When necessary, he might speak with human resources or his direct supervisor when planning accommodations.
The key in creating accommodations for yourself or requesting specific accommodations, he says, is to consider what is a reasonable accommodation for your employer to make for you.
“You cannot expect a change in your job description because you want them to make one,” Dr. Surman says. “People will be let go from their jobs for the inability to fulfill their job description with reasonable accommodations.”
Accommodations you can create for yourself:
Accommodations you may be able to request:
Headphones to block out distracting sounds and conversations
Calendar and email reminders for upcoming meetings or tasks
to help plan your work and stay on task
A workplace friend who can proofread projects or emails before they are submitted
Schedule specific times in the day to respond to emails or return phone calls
Plan breaks in your day for movement to help manage hyperactivity and improve attention
Access to an unused conference room for a quiet place to work
Desk or workstation placement in quieter locations of the office, or with fewer distractions such as people walking in the hallways
Written directions from your supervisor or brief meetings to review work in progress, to help you stay on track
Ask your supervisor to help you set target dates and deadlines for projects
Request to be able to use a recording device or app during meetings, rather than rely on note-taking
A flexible work schedule
Should you disclose?
It’s not always necessary to disclose a diagnosis of ADHD, Dr. Surman says. (For more on what to consider before disclosing a diagnosis, read
Dr. Surman suggests that if you do decide to disclose your diagnosis and needs to human resources, that you ask what has been done for previous employees and if there is a written template or process. Taking a proactive approach is best, offering solutions to your challenges that are low or no cost to your employer, rather than looking to the employer to provide a solution to the problem. Sometimes it is necessary to collaborate with your supervisor or human resources to find a workable accommodation. Dr. Surman calls it “managing up”—know the likely answer to your request before you make it.
“If you are seen as a problem by your employer―one more thing they have to manage―it’s not going to put you on their list of employees to advance,” Dr. Surman says. “When you have solutions and a plan for how you can accommodate your employer’s requirements while supporting your own needs, you’re more likely to get what you need.”
Finding the right workplace: Investigate and interview
After the internship or when you’re ready to move on from your first job experience, Dr. Surman says a potential employee who has ADHD needs to be an investigator on his own behalf. Most companies have extensive information about themselves online. Often there are company reviews from former employees on job-seeking websites.
Being prepared for the interview is only part of the investigation, he says. During the interview, pay attention to the physical environment of the workplace. Pay attention to the employees: Do they seem happy? During the interview, be willing to ask what it is like to work with this company.
Dr. Surman suggests:
Talk about the strengths you can bring to the office, rather than any challenges you may have from ADHD
Share what you gained in knowledge or experience during any gaps in your resume or questions about lower grades
Ask about the office structure, who you would be working with and how your positions support one another. How is work shared among employees?
How are employees evaluated on their work? What milestones or targets do the employers look for when judging progress?
“Ask yourself if this environment will provide the right structure for me so I can shine and look good?” Dr. Surman says. “This is true for anyone seeking employment but there’s a sensitivity for people with ADHD. If they have choices of environments, they might choose one that feels healthy to them, like what they’ve been in before.”
Finding the right environment, one that supports your strengths while accommodating your challenges due to ADHD symptoms, can make a difference.
“I like people to know the conditions that overwhelm them and how to manage that,” Dr. Surman says
Will I have enough to do, and enough variety of tasks, to avoid boredom?
Is the workstation arranged in a way that helps prevent distractions?
Is this a position that I can feel engaged in while doing my work? Does this interest me?
Will this workplace be accepting of my self-provided accommodations?
Ready to launch your career
You’re in the door! Now what do you do? Dr. Surman says it’s time to put your workplace plan in motion.
Some things you can do:
Know your company’s handbook and be familiar with its human resources policies.
Present requests for accommodations in ways that show they will improve you work performance with no or minimal inconvenience to the employer and other employees.
Be familiar with workplace accommodation laws. You can learn more at Job Accommodation Network’s page Accommodation Ideas for
Get tips and suggestions from our fact sheet on
Tips for Young Adults: Transitioning to College and Work
for helpful suggestions.
What strategies helped you when you first started your career? What suggestions would you offer new employees?
Many young adults are starting their first job or a new career this time of year. What do you need to know about succeeding at work with ADHD?
This article appeared in
September 14, 2017.
The information provided on this website was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number NU38DD005376 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC or the Department of Health and Human Services.