By Lesedi Ledwaba-Chapman, Senior Statistician at Exploristics
October is ADHD awareness month. This provides a good opportunity for everyone to learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and discuss the potential challenges and benefits experienced by individuals with the condition. I will also talk about my own experiences of having ADHD in the workplace.
What is ADHD?
ADHD falls within the range of neurodevelopmental conditions that are linked to neurodiversity. Like many neurodiverse conditions, ADHD is considered to be on a spectrum of neurodivergent symptoms where each individual will experience different symptoms with varying intensity. There are a variety of symptoms commonly associated with ADHD, however, diagnosis remains complex as currently there isn’t a single test for the condition.
Misconceptions around ADHD
There are many damaging misconceptions about ADHD (Table 1) and much of this stems from the name itself. ADHD individuals don’t suffer from a lack or “deficit” of attention, rather, focus on tasks can be lost because too much attention is paid to everything. Whether these are external distractions like someone walking past you in the office or internal distractions like thoughts and feelings. Thankfully, workplaces can easily accommodate neurodiverse employees by e.g., having a private area in the office to work, allowing flexible working arrangements, or permitting the use of headphones.
|ADHD is not a clinical condition||Research has shown that ADHD is linked to genetic and environmental factors, and it is listed in the DSM-5.|
|Only boys have ADHD||ADHD can affect people of all genders. Women with ADHD are often underdiagnosed.|
|Medication is the only way to treat ADHD||Research has shown that the best treatment for ADHD can be a combination of medication and therapy, depending on the individual.|
|Children with ADHD will outgrow it.
|Research suggests that around half of individuals with ADHD continue to show significant symptoms into adulthood.|
|ADHD only has negative aspects.||ADHD has been linked to creative energy, hyperfocus and drive.|
Table 1. Some common misconceptions around ADHD.
Opportunities associated with ADHD
Alongside the challenges that ADHD can bring, there are also opportunities. Studies have shown that individuals with ADHD tend to be more creative and think out-of-the-box compared to those without. This can enable ADHD employees to be unique problem solvers and bring new approaches to their work projects. Those with ADHD also have the ability to “hyper-focus” when projects are stimulating or there is an approaching deadline, this enables them to intensely focus on a task for long periods of time. Both of these skills are valuable in a creative space where thinking differently can help provide new and innovative solutions to intractable problems.
A workplace for all
Wellbeing and inclusivity are paramount at Exploristics. The company works hard to create a workplace where all employees feel comfortable and supported. Fostering an environment like this takes continuous effort and Exploristics frequently raise awareness of how we can make a welcoming space for all. As a result, Exploristics are the first company that has made me feel comfortable enough to disclose my own ADHD. The disclosure was handled with understanding, and I have total autonomy about who is aware. Afterwards, Exploristics offered me a tailored package of support to minimise triggers, manage symptoms and allow flexibility in my work pattern when required. This has helped me to feel welcome, and a valued member of the Exploristics community.
A flexible approach
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to working and everyone can benefit from more autonomy in their working arrangements whether neurodiverse or not. Optimising the way I work, has improved my wellbeing, job satisfaction, and productivity. I used to feel very anxious about how my ADHD could negatively impact my work. But by providing me with the right tools and support Exploristics has allowed me to harness it into a strength.