What are ADHD accommodations? (Part 1)

An overview of ADHD accommodations and reasonable adjustments

‘Accommodations’ or ‘Reasonable adjustments’ refers to removing or reducing the disadvantages an individual faces due to their disability. Such as changes/modifications to the work environment that would allow an employee to perform the necessary job functions.

Did you know that you could be entitled to accommodations as a person with ADHD?

I use the word ‘could’ because equality and disability laws are different in each country. Also, in some cases, having ADHD is not enough for you to qualify for an accommodation / reasonable adjustment. I explain this in a bit more detail further down in the newsletter.

Examples of ADHD accommodations

ADHD accommodations could be in the form of special work arrangements, a reasonable adjustment when applying for a job, a reasonable adjustment as a student, etc.

Here are some examples of accommodations you can ask for.

Accommodations as an employee

  • A desk facing away from busy areas in the office.

  • Acquisition or modification of equipment or device.

  • Being allowed to wear headphones.

  • Extra time for tasks.

  • Flexible working arrangements (working from home).

Accommodations as a student

  • Extra time on tests.

  • Extended deadline for assignments.

  • Sitting exams in a quiet place, away from distractions.

  • Asking whether a lecture can be recorded.

Accommodations as a job applicant

  • Extra time to read reading materials given on the day to deliver a presentation.

  • Extra time on tests required as part of the application process.

  • Disability schemes. In the UK, the Guaranteed Interview scheme ‘requires employers to guarantee to interview anyone with a disability whose application meets a minimum set of criteria for the post. These criteria include technical requirements and behavioral competencies that the job holder will need to demonstrate they have, through their application form.’

Do I have to be formally diagnosed with ADHD?

I have conducted extensive research and unfortunately, all roads lead to, yes.

All companies, universities, and programs have their own processes to request accommodations. From my research, I found that medical documentation stating your diagnosis is required. If ADHD is classed as a disability in your country, this shouldn’t be a problem. If it is not, your employer may not have to provide reasonable adjustments/accommodations.

I randomly stumbled across an ADHD accommodation form for a US university. You can take a look here if you’re interested.

As I mentioned earlier, being formally diagnosed with ADHD is not enough for you to qualify for accommodations. In most cases, accommodations/ adjustments only have to be made if it’s reasonable to do so. Here are some examples I have pulled from the UK and US system:

Americans with Disabilities Act - Q&A

“Employers are not required to lower quality or quantity standards as an accommodation; nor are they obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.” - ADA

‘Lower quality standards’ makes me raise an eyebrow. I feel like this could easily lead to companies discriminating on this basis. There are many toxic workplaces that require unrealistic targets, long hours and require you to put up with bullshit. You might be reading this thinking, well I would quit! It’s easier said than done, people have bills to pay!

“In selecting the particular type of reasonable accommodation to provide, the principal test is that of effectiveness, i.e., whether the accommodation will provide an opportunity for a person with a disability to achieve the same level of performance and to enjoy benefits equal to those of an average, similarly situated person without a disability.” - ADA

This is another paragraph that made me raise an eyebrow. It shouldn’t be up to the employer to determine what type of accommodations to provide. It also makes me cross that there’s a criterion. Why do people with ADHD have to jump through so many hoops?

Equality Act 2020 (UK)

In the UK there are three requirements for reasonable adjustments to be given. The most relevant requirement is:

“If a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled…” - Equality Act

Who determines what is a ‘substantial disadvantage?’ Are we really trusting Neurotypicals to determine whether or not they feel we ADHDers are at a disadvantage? What a mess!

So there’s a quick rundown of what ADHD accommodations are. This will be different in all countries, but I hope this newsletter is a good starting point for you to find out what accommodations you’re entitled to in your country.

I’m aware that some countries do not classify ADHD as a disability. I will be doing part 2 of this newsletter, where I will include ways to ask for accommodations in a way that is not framed for disability reasons.

Part 2 will cover:

  • Ways to ask for ADHD type accommodations without needed to disclose your ADHD. There is no guarantee that it will work, they’re just suggestions.

  • What accommodations you can ask for depending on which ADHD traits you struggle with.

  • Examples from ADHDers who have asked for ADHD accommodations.

Rach, with ADHD.