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In our modern world, ADHD has become somewhat of a buzzword – especially on popular social media platforms. While awareness is what we’re striving for, this obsession with self-diagnosis has led to a few misconceptions about what ADHD actually is. As we’re celebrating ADHD Awareness Month, we thought we’d take this opportunity to ‘debunk’ some of these misconceptions and focus on how you can support your neurodivergent colleagues.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterised by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that can interfere with day-to-day life.
In a colleague, this may manifest as trouble starting a new task, being over-talkative or fidgeting at their desk.
What are the common myths surrounding ADHD?
- People with ADHD are just lazy: One prevalent myth is that ADHD is simply a result of laziness or a lack of discipline. In reality, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder with biological and genetic factors at its core. It affects the brain’s structure and function, leading to difficulties in regulating attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. While strategies like time management and organisation can help, they are not a substitute for medical treatment or accommodations.
- ADHD only affects children: Another misconception is that ADHD is a childhood disorder that individuals outgrow as they become adults. While symptoms may evolve with age, ADHD often persists into adulthood. Many adults are diagnosed with ADHD for the first time in their lives, and it can have a significant impact on their personal and professional lives. Recognizing and managing ADHD in adults is crucial for their well-being and success.
- ADHD is overdiagnosed: While it is true that there has been an increase in ADHD diagnoses over the years, this does not necessarily mean overdiagnosis. The rising awareness of ADHD and improved diagnostic criteria have led to more accurate identification of individuals with the disorder.
How do I support my colleagues with ADHD?
So your colleague has told you that they have ADHD, but what now? Firstly, rather than making any wild assumptions, it is always best to talk to them and ask if there is anything you can do to help support them. Some people may decide they are happy to continue working as they are, while others may feel more comfortable with certain adjustments.
What’s most important is that your colleagues feel supported and comfortable asking for what they need to make working life more manageable.
Actionable takeaways to promote a supportive work environment:
- Being flexible e.g. offering hybrid working
- Taking an open and understanding approach
- Having systems in place to support effective time management
- Set clear and achievable goals within reasonable timeframes
- Provide regular feedback, as well as constructive criticism
Educating yourself on ADHD is also productive as it will allow you to be more empathetic in your approach, and minimise the risk of making false assumptions or drawing on stereotypes.
We hope you found this blog helpful. Let’s continue to foster a culture of education and understanding around ADHD and work together to build a professional world that embraces and empowers individuals of all neurodivergent backgrounds.
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