(How) Should he talk to his boss about ADD?
January 12, 2011 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Help me help my husband see the pros and cons (but especially the pros) of telling his employer about his ADD.

My husband works in the HR department of an large company with very progressive and pro-employee policies on everything from diversity to job site safety to benefits to discrimination. The company's corporate culture, from what he's described, is remarkably positive. In the 3 months he's had this specific position, he's impressed a lot of people with his abilities. Several people have made comments about plans they have for his advancement. He has a great relationship with his supervisor. He's really happy with all aspects of the job and finds it satisfying. He's really good at what he's doing. However, he's made a few flubs recently and has faced some very minor disciplinary action as a result. It's my opinion that the mistakes (involving things like completely forgetting about paperwork he himself has left right on his desk-- visible, central, yet totally spaced on) trace directly back to his ADD. I'm not seeing it as an excuse for past mistakes he has made, but it does provide some context, and talking with his boss about it might help prevent future work flow fumbles. If his boss doesn't know about my husband's ADD, he can't be flexible and creative around it. Which is exactly what this guy has been trained to do in his specific role in HR. It's my assertion that he should tell his boss about it so they can work together on setting him up to be as effective as possible at work.

He has told me he's worried that talking to his boss about it will lessen the respect he has for him, destroy his chances for future advancement, or even result in him being fired. Those are certainly scary things to think about, but I find them all to be very unlikely results of opening up about an actual, diagnosed condition to an HR manager in a very progressive company that has shown itself to be supportive and accommodating to the differently-abled. He works alongside others who have had accommodations made for the way they need to work, and it hasn't held them back at all. And nobody is going to be fired from this company for having ADD. I feel he (unconsciously) believes that not addressing the ADD at work it means it doesn't exist at work. Except, it does.

His first performance review is coming up. I think he should get out in front of it with a sit-down with his boss about the ADD. I think it only helps him. That allows his boss to say, "okay, it's not that Mr. pajamazon doesn't care enough to file my reports before he goes home. It's really that when five people throw stuff on his desk 5 minutes before quitting time, it's hard for him to process it all. Maybe I can catch him like half an hour before quitting time." Or whatev.

So yeah, I know I can't make him talk about it at work if he doesn't want to. This is his private medical information and he gets to choose who knows what about him. But I do want to help him see the advantages and be less worried about any fallout.

What was it like for you (or someone you know) to tell your employer that you have ADD or a similar thing going on? How did you approach it? Or, why did you decide to keep it to yourself? How did things at work change or not change as a result?

I've read this already, but I'd like to hear from people who actually made a decision like this at work, and how that worked for them.
posted by pajamazon to Work & Money (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Don't tell the boss about the ADD.

Instead, tell the boss about actionable things that could be done to help improve performance and throughput.

In other words, don't use the term ADD, but talk about common effects.

"Look, boss, it's not that I don't care enough to file my reports before you goes home. It's really that when five people throw stuff on my desk 5 minutes before quitting time, it's hard for me to process it all. I would like to solve this problem by doing XYZ."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:34 PM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

Is this a condition that has been diagnosed by a professional doctor?
posted by mkultra at 2:40 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd rather not hang a sign around myself, and the thing about ADD is everyone has a touch of it, or at least suffers similar effects when 2,000 things are thrown at us at once. Make concrete suggestions to alleviate the problem. That's what bosses want to know - what will keep the problem from recurring.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:41 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a coworker who is dyslexic. He told me about it and now when we double-check one another's mission-critical work -- something we do regardless -- I make sure to check for errors that could be caused by dyslexia. Thanks to this, I've caught stuff I may have otherwise missed. He's a good, careful worker and the fact that we make errors in our work is pretty much implied (that's why the double-checking thing is there in the first place) so he doesn't get knocked for it. I have my own issues and make my own sort of errors which he checks for.

I have my own issues. I have told my boss (and her boss, who I occasionally report to) about them. When something happens due to my issues (something along the lines of your husband and the reports,) I can't use it as an excuse but I can use it to have a sit-down with the parties involved and see what we can hash out about the situation and not about my issue (which said parties don't even need to know about.) It's a way for bosses to be able to better mediate certain problems. And a boss always appreciates an employee making their job easier.

...his chances for future advancement, or even result in him being fired.

If you can prove either are the direct result of his ADD, it's straight-up illegal, AFAIK.
posted by griphus at 2:43 PM on January 12, 2011

I've learned that once you go clinical with more "mental" issues rather than body issues (say diabetes), then people change their perception about you. I confided in a boss about my depression and well, now she's totally changed her tune. I'm so self conscious about it I overly reacted thinking that my performance was sucking, etc. Well it wasn't. When I told her I was depressed/had depression/going to a psych/taking meds she was shocked. It went from "Hmmm I never knew that about you, you're so with it" to "you have no value, etc." when in reality my performance has not changed in 6 years.

What they do want is actionable items, improvements, solutions to anything that may be construed as a problem and then marked results.

Unless you need to take time off for a mental medical condition, don't tell anyone your biz. There are so many stereotypes it's sick. But also then you can go through the proper channels of your HR departments FMLA ,etc and not even necessarily the boss. You can leave it as "I need time off for a medical condition". They don't need to know the details, the person handling the FMLA approval does because of the med records--which are confidential.

I'm sorry he goes through it. It sucks. Buti t's obvious that he's very bright and can overcome it.
posted by stormpooper at 2:46 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Uh, I guess I should add that I work somewhere that we deal with people with varying degrees of mental illness on a daily basis, so my and my coworkers' responses to it may be quite different than places than everyone else describes.
posted by griphus at 2:50 PM on January 12, 2011

Does the HR department have a specific disability coordinator? Perhaps your husband might try speaking with that person first.

I shared my "focus issues" with my bosses about four years in, during a particularly bad stretch of grad school. It went fine, although part of that was surely because one of the bosses is our divisional disability coordinator. I agree that if you do decide to talk about it, your best approach is to be proactive -- discuss it when it's visible but not overwhelming your ability to do the job.

The key to being proactive is to anticipate their concerns. It's great that he has an explanation for why he spaces out, but just saying "I have ADD" could be as un-useful as saying "I have cancer" -- it can bring up incorrect or unrelated assumptions. What does this combination of issues mean to him -- and what does that mean to the company? What specific things does he need to look out for? Is losing paperwork on his desk something he knows how to deal with or prevent? If not, how can he either reduce the amount of paperwork or keep his desk cleaner? What kinds of pokes or triggers from other people, or from a reminder service or similar, might he use to keep him going?

And here's the obvious question for himself: if he knows, why wasn't he doing it? I'm not trying to be mean, but he needs to recognize the things that stand/stood in his way. Maybe he was just getting into the groove at this new place; maybe he is lacking a particular part of the workflow that helped him succeed at a previous job.

Saying he has ADD also makes it very difficult to parse out the things that might truly be under his control but don't have anything to do with the disorder -- or the abnormal things around him that contribute adversely to the situation but AREN'T his fault. It's very easy to blame yourself for things going wrong. What are some issues that, okay, may or may not be his fault but could just plain be done better?

Look at the situation from the boss's point of view. S/he may be caring and helpful, but when shit hits the fan the boss doesn't care if it's because of ADD or an imaginary ghost named Phil. The boss is responsible for stuff getting done, period. Workflow changes, shifted responsibilities to areas of skill, etc. are great, but to the boss that may mean that some areas aren't getting covered. Moreover, the boss may feel hesitant about coming out and saying something about Project A or Missed Deadline B for fear of seeming like a taskmaster or overcriticizing. (That's a management issue, but it's one that your husband should meet his boss on halfway.)

The best thing I've been able to do is to come flat out and say, "Yes, I am completely okay with you poking me repeatedly to get something done. I don't consider it micromanaging. Also, because it is not your responsibility to poke me, I would like to have a very brief meeting at the beginning of every day/week just to make sure we're on the same page." Building in accountability has been a big help for both sides. Now, implementing that is another story, but first things first.

Does your husband have a psychiatrist or therapist? Perhaps that person could suggest other strategies.
posted by Madamina at 2:54 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I hear what y'all are saying about him taking proactive, concrete solutions to his boss instead of just saying "ADD, yo." I will suggest exactly this.

Yes, mkultra, professional doctors have provided that diagnosis.
posted by pajamazon at 3:08 PM on January 12, 2011

Madamina, he's not seeing anyone currently. It would absolutely be helpful for him to talk with someone experienced in ADD to devise some strategies.
posted by pajamazon at 3:12 PM on January 12, 2011

I'm very ADD, diagnosed, medicated and I would NEVER tell anyone in a corporate setting. Now, I'm a freelancer with an odd specialty in a competitive industry, so my might advice might not suit.
My belief is that if I have this problem, I need to develop systems and protocols so that I can handle my work load and tasks in a way that satisfies my boss and colleagues, without letting them know why I do so. For me it's multiple checklists, stickynotes, voicemails to myself, and so on. Telling the boss only puts the ball in that person's court--what's Boss supposed to do about it? If I miss a deadline or forget to send something, it's not my ADD, it's me. I know what's required and I've developed coping skills so that I don't flub something or if I do, I can correct the mistake.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:01 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I can see you've mostly 'best answered' the answers that support the position you want to take. I would urge you to consider Cool Papa Bell's solution of focusing on improving performance and not even bringing up the potential causes of the problem. After all, if you can take simple steps to solve it, there is no need to bring the ADD into it.

This is unlikely to be a popular opinion on Ask: Speaking as someone diagnosed as ADD in the past, I have little respect for it as a diagnosis. And my opinions are much tamer than those of many I know, in an engineering/science culture anyway. If you can propose strategies to solve the problem, I don't see how bringing up the ADD could provide anything but extra headaches.
posted by pseudonick at 5:28 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also diagnosed ADD in a professional setting, and I agree with the many posters that the ADD is not really the point, so it is really not helpful to disclose it.

Getting stuff done is the point. Working out coping mechanisms is more or less the job of experts like psychiatrists, not so much a boss. Once he has some good ideas of specific things to do that will probably help, he can work with his boss to try to get a plan implemented. This process doesn't have to even mention ADD.

I personally prefer to not have to make my success dependent on something like my boss reminding me of something that A) I could in theory very well do myself, and B) most people *do* do themselves. By all means, develop coping strategies. But the boss is not really the person in charge of developing these strategies, and likely won't be much help.

Something like "paperwork on the desk" is fixable. You mentioned asking someone experienced in ADD. I'll give my two cents as someone an afflicted non-professional.

I have trouble remembering things, sometimes. I know this, so I compensate for it in various ways. For example, if I have to remember to do something, I have to write it down. I will often leave things out (much like paperwork on the desk) to give myself a clue on what I was doing and that I have something left undone. In the situation with paperwork left undone, the problem is that the paperwork ceased to become a reminder/attention getting mechanism and became just "part of the background". In this specific situation I'd recommend a couple of things.

First, dedicate to keeping a clean desk. This can certainly be difficult for an ADD sufferer, but it is possible; the best way is to set up a daily habit/appointment. I find, personally, that if I establish a habit it's way easier to remember to do something. The step of a clean desk makes it an anomaly to have something on top of it, and that anomaly will get corrected at the specific time per day that desk-cleaning is scheduled.

Second, don't count on having a clean desk. :) The desktop isn't working as a reminder system (at least, clearly not all the time). Sure, keep it clean--but it appears that stuff sitting on the desk will not remind him to do something all by itself, so you gotta get that pending task into some sort of reminder system that works. This can be a (SINGLE!) to-do list as long as there is a dedicated time/habit of clearing it daily. Otherwise, it can be something that nags, like a phone or computer.

For me, the trick in all these "forgetting" situations is to be aggressive about figuring out the best way to remind oneself, and doing what has to be done as soon as possible to commit the task to your "external memory", whatever it may be. My oft-used example is the common problem of forgetting where I put something down (keys, wallet, gas cap, screwdriver, whatever). My memory isn't any better, but I've trained myself to never put something down unless I consciously think whether I'm going to be able to find it again (in other words, "Is this in its home?"). The keys don't get set down anywhere except their "spot", otherwise they're in my hand or the pocket. If I have to set them down somewhere else...I don't. They stay in my hand, or I go trooping through the house to put them where they go, or I put them in the left front pocket. My gas cap doesn't have a tether or place to put it when I'm getting gas, so it stays in my hand. It's awkward sometimes, but that's kind of the point.

Setting up a habit for "cleanup" can be handy, too. Every time I get out of a chair, I check my pockets and the table for my stuff. A similar idea with the day-to-day tasks can work well, too. Every day, at the same time, one can go down the list of things that were supposed to be done and check to see if something completely got overlooked.

This was all a bit out of scope, but let me end by saying that the best way to go into a performance review where there are issues to address is to have a clear plan of addressing them. Ideally, it's solved before you get to the review. I like to look at it like a process problem: if you're not getting the results you like, you look at the process you're taking and tweak it until it works. I think the best thing to tell your boss is "Here's how I've already fixed this", and not "I have this condition, please help me".
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 6:08 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

The problems your husband is experiencing may be down to ADD, but people without ADD can experience them as well, so as a lot of other posters have noted, there's no need to refer to the ADD, when referring to the symptoms alone can explain the situation.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I'm in my element when faced with 5 short term problems in quick succession. But I struggle when asked to produce a large piece of work with a long term deadline (I procrastinate). Explaining to your boss what you're not good at and providing them with ways of making it easier for you is something all employees should do. For me, I explain that I produce my best work when I have clear, short deadlines, so I suggest things like providing sections for review at interim deadlines, or that I produce a structure that she approves early on in the project. My boss wants the same thing that I do - to get the best out of me - so she's always been very receptive to my suggestions. The same approach will work for your husband - without the need to mention the ADD.

The other thing I'd say is that the worst time to raise a physical or mental health issue is when failures are being discussed. Even in the most enlightened organisations, it comes across as an excuse, and can lead to people treating you differently in the future. The best time to raise it is before any problems arise, or if that moment has passed, after the problems have been resolved and when performance is back on track. (To be fair, I've never acknowledged my mental health issues to a boss, but based on the experience of friends, it is received better when everything is going well rather than when things are going badly)
posted by finding.perdita at 6:10 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm with pseudonick. While I personally might "believe in" ADD, I can guarantee you where I work, telling your boss you have ADD would result in a sympathetic sit-down talk which would make you feel better. Then, when you left, you wouldn't see the "oh, jesus, ADD, right" eyeroll. It would be seen as excusing-in-advance behavior. Now, there's nothing overt that would happen, you wouldn't get lower performance reviews, or anything like that. You might just stop being "impressive" and "promising" and become merely "good." For someone looking to advance, that could matter.

I'll nth saying that it would be much more strategic to describe the effect and a possible workaround, than using the actual phrase "ADD". Hey, boss, I'm a forgetful SOB. Do you mind reminding me of things whenever you think of it, just to make sure I haven't spaced something? That would make you look more like a go-getter.

Same thing, I know, but different connotation somehow.
posted by ctmf at 6:15 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think anything but badness would come from saying you have ADD at work, no matter how nice your office supposedly is. It is pretty much a black mark on your record, regardless of HR and "medical condition," for at best the reasons that ctmf said. I honestly think your husband will be shooting himself in the foot to out himself with this. Just pass it off as "I forget stuff" or whatever, but don't say medical condition for anything. Mental conditions get no respect, and I wouldn't advise anyone to out themselves with anything unless they absolutely had to (i.e. got hospitalized).
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:15 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why you are more interested in the pros than the cons; surely you'd like to know if the cons outweigh the pros?

I have had to address similar issues with my bosses a few times over the last decade. In each case I have tried to limit it as much as possible to the people who absolutely must know and to the bare facts and solutions they must know. My experience is that disclosing an illness or condition can sometimes help you to get a specific problem solved, but it introduces other problems that usually negate the positive effects of the disclosure in the long run. And I work in a field with a pretty good history of tolerating illness and aberrant behavior from people who are otherwise competent.

95% of people above me have said they feel strongly that disclosing a popularly dismissed condition like ADHD is a very bad idea under most circumstances.

pajamazon  I do want to help him see the advantages and be less worried about any fallout.

Why? The fallout has the potential to ruin or at least drag on his career at this company, and possibly at other companies if he works in a competitive industry. It does not matter one iota how progressive and pro-employee the company's official policies are. What matters are the attitudes his boss, co-workers, and competitors secretly hold towards ADHD and other conditions. Unless your husband is aware of how his co-workers with ADHD are being handled, he has little information on the secret opinions of his colleagues.

pajamazon  He has told me he's worried that talking to his boss about it will lessen the respect he has for him, destroy his chances for future advancement, or even result in him being fired.

It won't result in his being fired in the short term, but it certainly may result in his being among the first to be fired or laid off when the company finds it needs to cut staff for financial reasons or is looking for an excuse to remove staff if a project doesn't produce the desired results. It may also result in his being overlooked for a promotion.

pajamazon  Those are certainly scary things to think about, but I find them all to be very unlikely results of opening up about an actual, diagnosed condition to an HR manager in a very progressive company that has shown itself to be supportive and accommodating to the differently-abled. He works alongside others who have had accommodations made for the way they need to work, and it hasn't held them back at all.

This is naive, in my opinion.

It does not matter that his ADHD is actual, diagnosed, genuine, etc. A significant percentage of people — in my own experience, especially those in supervisory positions — do not believe in ADHD despite what they parrot as the company's official position and how much they smile. Another chunk of people believes it exists but that it strictly applies only to children or to people with very severe problems.

I don't know what type of differently-abled people work at your husband's company, but you should be aware that there is often a noticeable difference between how those with physical disabilities and those with psychological/neurological disabilities are treated, regardless of official policy. Beyond that, there is another divide between the handling of mental issues popularly seen as organic (having some root physical cause) and those popularly seen as purely psychological.

What that means is that a person in a wheelchair tends to be viewed differently from someone with bipolar disorder, or memory issues stemming from a car crash, who will tend to be viewed differently from someone with ADHD or depression. Even people who believe that ADHD and depression are legitimate conditions sometimes have less respect for people with ADHD or depression and often have less patience for related work problems.

Added to this, you probably do not know that your husband's colleagues' disability accommodations haven't held them back at all. You likely do not know about the conditions of colleagues who don't discuss them openly in the workplace, and you do not know the actual effects on their careers or the careers of people who have been open.

Most workplaces are willing to let a certain amount slide for people with disabilities who are highly competent or successful, but there is a lot less tolerance for those below that 90th-95th percentile. That problem generally goes unspoken and also affects the career advancement of other minority groups.

pajamazon  If his boss doesn't know about my husband's ADD, he can't be flexible and creative around it.

No, a lot of bosses would respond that it's your husband's job to figure out how to be flexible and creative around his own ADHD, and that in contrast it's HR's job to provide the particular reasonable accommodations your husband requests. If your husband's boss turns out to be genuinely interested in brainstorming solutions with your husband, that's wonderful, but it's not necessarily his job to divine what your husband needs.

What, specifically, does your husband have to gain by his boss knowing that ADHD might be the cause of his recent flubs? The ADHD is not going to magically make those flubs okay. In fact, it can lead to a supervisor's silently expecting that the ADHD employee is likely to be predictably less competent in certain ways in the future.

The boss needs to know how your husband plans to prevent his recent mistakes from happening in the future. If your husband has specific suggestions for reasonable changes his boss can make in their interactions to help him prevent future mistakes, it might be useful to bring them up.

You need to know that once this door has been opened, it cannot be closed. You cannot undo a disclosure of ADHD and the consequences can potentially follow you through the rest of your career. Sad, but the popular and corporate understanding of a lot of mental conditions has not yet caught up with the way the people with those conditions deal with them on a daily basis, and unless your husband is very fortunate or already has a long, public track record of career success, he is not likely to change that. Even students from elementary school through college often have trouble being taken seriously by their instructors and getting accommodations.

The most insidious aspect of this is that your husband would probably never find out that his ADHD disclosure is what hindered his career progress, kept him from a promotion, or led to his being fired or laid off at some point.

I'm sorry for the pessimism and I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but from a distance many of us can say that the odds are against your husband if he chooses to disclose ADHD.
posted by hat at 8:51 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another voice saying your husband shouldn't mention ADD to his manager. His manager could have various interpretations of the statement "I have ADD":
- I can't do anything about my bad performance;
- You can't do anything to me, no matter how badly I perform, because I have a condition and could sue you (this seems the most likely interpretation, because the statement is throwing down a gauntlet);
- I will make excuses anytime I mess something up;
- Nothing is ever my fault;
- Etc.

I'm not saying any of these are correct. But it could be a signal to tag your husband as "difficult" and to quietly begin a paper trail to get rid of him on the next RIF.

I like the ideas of framing this as a behavior/work preference. I've worked for and with people who retain information better if I tell it to them, send email, or remind them 48 hours before something is due. I would advise your husband to describe the style that makes him more effective, not state a condition.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:39 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am not as opposed to disclosure as some others here, but I do think there are ways of explaining things that can only make the situation worse. Bringing up a disability right after disciplinary action is one of those ways.

I would also point out that even if your husband had watertight evidence of excellent performance at all times, his company could simply take a quick glance at his diagnosis and fabricate statements that black is white. For example, I've had people tell me that I'm disorganized (ROTFLMAO) and that I can't type (I can touch type 98wpm). It doesn't matter that these statements were completely fictitious, those people were in power, so they could say whatever they wanted. [1]

And as for discrimination being illegal - well, burglary is also notionally illegal. How does that help?

[1] For the record, their saying those things doesn't convince me it was a bad decision to disclose. If they hadn't used those things as an excuse it would have been something else.
posted by tel3path at 12:54 AM on January 13, 2011

I wouldn't tell a manager at work about my (medically diagnosed) ADHD. Even with the best of intentions it would be hard for them to not think of me, consciously or subconsciously, as a liability or at least a potential liability. Worse, they might be expected to pass the information on elsewhere in the organisation, e.g. there may be a policy requiring managers to record and report on employee health issues to ensure that disability laws are complied with.

I definitely wouldn't tell anyone in HR. Please don't take this the wrong way, but from upper management's point of view HR is not there to help employees. It's there to handle and minimise the problems that employees can cause the organisation. One of the ways of minimising the problems that a person with a psychiatric/neurological disorder can cause is by ensuring (in a deniable way) that they are not promoted to a level where they could cause serious harm. Maybe his manager and any future manager with access to his file are/will be more ethical than that but I wouldn't want to bet on it.

So far I've dealt with my ADHD at work by setting strict rules for myself about keeping notes of everything, never assuming that I will remember something if I haven't set an Outlook reminder about it, always clearing my desk at the end of the day, etc. I can't allow myself to break any of them because that way madness lies. Basically, I've had to impose large amounts of structure on myself because nobody else was going to do it for me. It seems to be working pretty well.

If I ever had to explain poor performance, I wouldn't say "I have ADHD so I can't handle long-term projects without constant deadlines". I wouldn't even say "I find it hard to work without constant deadlines". I'd say something like "I'd like to set frequent, measurable milestones for this project. Here's a list of what I'm going to have done at the end of each of the next x weeks, and I'd appreciate if you'd hold me to it". Not super-professional but it's better than saying something that certain people are likely to hear as "I'm a basically lazy person who got a psychiatrist to write a note for me because you never know what the bikers are cutting their amphetamines with".
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:05 AM on January 13, 2011

Just to add a different experience: last year in the middle of a huge crunch at work, I was having serious troubles because of my ADD. I told my boss, he and his boss talked to HR, and and what happened is that together we all hammered out a short-term solution: I worked from home two days a week, where I wasn't bothered by people constantly coming into the office I shared with coworkers and their phone calls, and we also hammered out a long-term solution: the next time a room suitable for an office became empty, I got to have it.

So several months later, I moved into a private office -- that nobody but me wants anyway because it has no windows, which suit me fine because I don't need the distraction. In return, I have to comply with my doctor's orders and medication - if it turns out that I go off the meds without talking to the doc about it, then I lose the special accommodation. (If my doc and I decide to discontinue them for some reason, that's okay as long as I do it with the cooperation of my doctor.)

Note: I work at a (non-state) university. Things may be far, far different out there in the Real World.
posted by telophase at 12:51 PM on January 13, 2011

If your husband works in HR, and is still reticent to tell his employer about his medical condition, he probably has a reason for it.

Drop it.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2011

Don't use the word ADD, or ADHD. Even if he follows the following advice, and the boss says something like 'that sounds like ADHD?' just give a vague headnod, 'I guess it does', non-committal answer.

There are so many symptoms identified with ADHD, and your husband will not have every single one (or he wouldn't have a job, honestly), therefore he does not want to be associated with every single one of those symptoms/stereotypes, etc.

Do have him figure out where he is going to trip up. Do have him figure out where he has really useful skills. Then, he can go to his boss (or informally, a co-worker?) and explain that he has certain strengths and weaknesses, and possibly by delegating things differently, or changing the process, things can work out better. Most places don't really care how things are done as long as they are done! I know of people who have very reliable reputations despite chronic illness that pulls them of projects frequently - because they always keep everyone informed of where they are, when they can get something finished or if they will have any delays, and are good at handing over projects.

So, it's a delicate balance. We tend to notice things that have been bough to our attention - don't have him bring 'flaws' to the attention of his boss that his boss doesn't need to pay attention too, but do work around specific issues and behaviours.
To turn it around, specific issues is all that his boss can help with, and as it is not his bosses job to become an expert in ADHD and guess where he might have issues, it is more productive to only focus on the issues, not the ADHD.

Bonus book recommendation: ADD-Friendly Ways To Organize Your Life
posted by Elysum at 4:20 AM on February 7, 2011

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