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Dougal Sutherland: What is ADHD and what workplace support is available?

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What is ADHD? 

  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder 
  • Symptoms include difficulty focusing attention -often cant’s keep focused on something but sometimes get “hyperfocused” on something and can’t move off it when need to; acting suddenly without thinking (impulsivity); being really disorganised; fidgety, restless, can’t sit still for long; changing jobs a lot, messy and disorganised, misses deadlines, often seen as unreliable; can affect friendships 


Why is it an issue in the workplace 

  • Historically ADHD was thought to only exist in children and that they would grow out of it 
  • Now know that about 2/3 of people with ADHD as a child continue to have symptoms and signs as an adult 
  • Lots of people missed being diagnosed in childhood but now realising that they might have it – so lots more people getting diagnosed as adults 
  • Also increasing number of women being diagnosed in adulthood who were likely overlooked during childhood 


How to support at work 

  • Recognising it’s ADHD is a good start rather than assuming someone is “lazy” or it’s something to do with their personality 
  • Adjusting work environment to reduce distractions 
  • Figuring out with the person how best they work – sometimes having tight deadlines is really useful as it creates positive pressure to get a job done. A number of journalists have commented to me that they think they have ADHD and news media is a great place for them to work as the content is constantly changing and the deadlines are tight and quick 


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