Because ADHD is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you work at a larger company, they can't discriminate against you on the basis of your condition. The act also requires your company to accommodate your needs. But you have to be comfortable enough to let your employer know that you have ADHD. It may be best to research this topic more before bringing it up so you have a plan.
Finally, take advantage of the benefits -- yes, there are benefits -- that can come with ADHD. The restlessness, impulsiveness, and constant desire to try new things can be great assets. This is especially true if you have your own business.
Studies have shown that many adults with ADHD wind up as entrepreneurs. The trick to success is to find a career that best suits you. Then use your energy, creativity, and other strengths to get the most out of your job.
Want to use your ADHD to your advantage? Here are some career fields to choose from.
ADHD in Adults
The challenges of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in a classroom setting are familiar — students with ADHD often struggle with following instruction, completing homework tasks, and sitting still. While many kids outgrow the hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattentiveness associated with ADHD, about 60 percent of children with ADHD become adults with ADHD, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Adult ADHD is characterized by restlessness, disorganization, and the inability to focus. But ADHD also comes with a unique set of strengths. Choosing a career that capitalizes on these strengths is key to professional success.
Police and Firefighters
Captivated by Change: Police Officers and Firefighters Police officers and firefighters are busy. No two days are the same, which is a good thing for people with ADHD because a monotonous routine can become tedious. ADHD adults find pleasure in constant change. They thrive in an environment that is stimulating, and one in which they have to adapt and analyze.
Working with a mentor can help people with ADHD maintain their focus during testing and training. Once they’re in a police station or firehouse, ADHD adults will find themselves busy with work they find both fulfilling and rewarding.
Doctors and Nurses
Thrive in High-Intensity Environments: Doctors and Nurses“People with ADHD tend to work well in a fast-paced, high-intensity environment, like that of an emergency room or ambulance,” says Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a clinical psychotherapist and assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Like police officers, doctors and nurses never have the same workday twice. This requires them to use all of their training, maintain focus, and work with others to succeed.
However, working in a hospital may involve long hours, stacks of paperwork, and having to answer to authority figures — all possible weaknesses for ADHD adults. Having a strong support staff and colleagues willing to help is important when working in the medical field.
Talk Success: SalespeopleMost people with ADHD excel at talking to others. Sales jobs are a great way to focus this natural energy in a positive way. In an environment that requires heads-down, solo work, ADHD adults may get frustrated without human interaction. But with a job that depends on communication, such as sales, someone with ADHD may find great success.
Arts & Entertainment
Express Creativity: Artists and EntertainersThe entertainment industry has long been a mecca for dreamers, creators, and visionaries. The energy and drive it takes to succeed in any aspect of the entertainment industry — as a graphic artist, ballet dancer, or stage actor — is exhausting for most people, but not for those with ADHD. Their high-energy drive can propel them towards a fruitful creative career.
Physical Work: Members of the MilitaryThe military, in which order and discipline are key, may seem like the last place for a person with ADHD. Yet some do very well in the armed forces. That’s because the intense mental focus and physical demands of training keep their minds and bodies engaged. They have clear instructions, an objective, and incentives to reach their goals.
Be Independent: EntrepreneursEntrepreneurs must have determination, boundless energy, and the desire to succeed. They also have to share that drive by interacting with investors, employees, and customers. This requires a great deal of independent work, organization, and planning — areas in which people with ADHD typically struggle. But not when it’s their own business — something they are deeply committed to seeing through. “When they’re in an area of passion, people with ADHD flourish,” says Dr. Kevin Ross Emery, author of “Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches to Attention Deficit Disorder.”
Work Outside the Office: Commission SalespeopleSalespeople who work on commission are out-and-about, shaking hands, and seeing new faces. It’s the type of job in which a person is almost always “on.” No cubicles or 9-to-5 schedules here. “Work environments that are ‘outside the box’ are perfect for people with ADHD,” Dr. Emery says. “It gives them the space and flexibility they need, with the right amount of structure so they can be really successful.”
Seek Variety: MechanicsWorking on cars, boats, and motorcycles is a hands-on, physical job. It’s one that is different each day, often calls on a person’s critical-thinking skills, and requires face-to-face interaction. It’s perfect for a person with ADHD who feels trapped behind a desk and loves solving problems.
Hands-On Work: Construction WorkersThe construction business keeps people busy and working hard. It’s also a job that changes frequently while still providing clear instructions and objectives. There’s little time for boredom — as soon as one portion of a job is done, there are usually other tasks to complete.
Clear Deadlines: Delivery Truck DriverDelivery truck drivers are people on a mission; they have somewhere to be, and they have to be there by a certain time. It’s the perfect structure for a person with ADHD. “Employees with ADHD thrive in environments where they have clear instructions and directives,” Dr. Sarkis says.
With a truck full of boxes and a day in which to get them delivered, a person with ADHD will work hard to accomplish the task before them. This profession also allows ADHD adults to work outside of a typical office setting, interact with others, and use their boundless energy to complete assignments.
Hiring Employees with ADHDAdults with ADHD make very industrious employees. They are high-energy, naturally curious, and eager to succeed. Making a few small adjustments can help an employer establish a productive work environment. “People with ADHD flourish when expectations and deadlines are clear and put into writing,” Dr. Sarkis says. “Employers should break down projects into smaller tasks and assign deadlines to those components.”
Identifying a coworker that can help an ADHD employee with the more challenging aspects of the job, such as paperwork, is a good way to ensure success. It may take extra work to integrate an employee with ADHD, but with time it’s likely to be a very successful partnership.
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