Question: “I suffer from adult attention deficit disorder (ADD). After a recent mishap at work, I mentioned this to my boss. She said she knew nothing about ADD but was glad I told her. Since then, I have noticed that she treats me differently. My co-workers talk about me behind my back and seem to think I’m not very bright, which is so far from the truth. What advice do you have for someone in this situation?" — D.F.
Marie's Answer: Practically speaking, people with hidden disabilities face an ironic choice. If they conceal their diagnosis, others may not understand the challenges they face. But if they reveal their problems, others may begin to regard them differently. Here are some points to consider:
• Telling your boss that your mistakes were caused by a permanent impairment changes her view of your ability to do the job. To alleviate her concerns, explain how you will prevent similar errors in the future.
• To silence your colleagues, let your work speak for itself. If you are consistently careful, thorough and accurate, their opinions will change. But if you have trouble meeting expectations, you may want to find a position that’s a better match for your abilities.
• Before you completely identify with this diagnostic label, be sure that you have been properly examined by a qualified professional. The term “adult ADD” often is carelessly applied to anyone with a short attention span.
If you have been officially diagnosed, you may be entitled to legal protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For further information, consult your human resources manager or local EEOC office. For more information on ADD as a disability check out “When does ADD count as a protected ‘disability’” from HR Specialist and “ADA accommodations for ADD/ADHD executive assistant?” from Admin Pro Forum.
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