March 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm #90660
CycloneMemberMarch 30, 2012 at 7:51 pmPost count: 37
I‘m 40 years old and just learned I have ADD. Now what?
Having recently been diagnosed as having ADD, I thought it would be useful to share some information on the “disorder” with my colleagues. I want to educate those around me so we can be a more successful team. After all, real teamwork is not about everyone doing the same thing, it’s everyone working towards a common goal, the score, focusing on what they are individually good at, and making sacrifices for the good of the team.
If you have any doubt, look at any sports team; in rugby, forwards are big, backs are nible, wingers are fast and the full back has an astronimically good kick; and the scrum half has to be fast, smart, and nimble. There’s no uniformity. Football is the extreme (the American kind), the team is literally made up of two teams; one for offence and the other for defence. Rugby is a much better sport, by the way, but I digress… The point is it takes all kinds, and I’ll come back to this analogy of physique because I think it’s easier to understand.
There is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about ADD, so I think it’s also important to clarify what ADD is and what it means to be an adult with ADD ( or ADDult for short . If you think it’s a bad idea to share this so publicly at work, you can blame it on my ADD (impulsivity). My ADD is not new; I have had it all of my life. The only difference is that I now know why I have difficulties in some areas and how to deal with some of the challenges I face. It’s also made me much more aware of how it impacts interpersonal relationships.
First of all, I don’t think of my ADD as a disorder. Quite frankly I think this is a misnomer. ADD is just as responsible for what I’m good at as it is for my shortcomings. Studies have revealed structural and chemical differences in the ADDers brain. So my brain is different. I’m wired differently, I respond differently, I think differently but, more importantly, I’m better suited for some cognitive activities than others. Put simply, I’m different. And despite the fact I’m better at some things that others, and significantly so, others focus on my shortcomings and label them as a disorder.
It’s better to draw an analogy to physique. We all recognize differences in people’s physiques. Some are tall, some short, some muscular, etc. Unfortunately, while we can easily observe physical differences, brain physiology isn’t as obvious. It’s as if the majority of people are built for long distance running and I’m a gymnast. Point a runner in the right direction and they can hold their pace for hours. That is to say they can maintain focus and concentration for as long as it takes to get a job done. The gymnast is equally athletic, but built for sprinting, climbing, tumbling and jumping.
When mental gymnastics are needed, people come to me and are in awe of my ability to find my way around problems, understand things at a deeper level, see things differently, draw connections, understand problems at a high level, in detail, and across disciplines, and find solutions. I am just as much in awe of people who are organized, can write reports, fill in timesheets, manage their time effectively and keep to schedules. That’s not me. I’m a problem solver. I thrive in chaos. When the runners hit a mountain, they relay the baton to me, because they know I’ll climb the cliffs, jump the gaps, and find my way to the other side.
If you look at an gymnast vs a long distance runner, the differences are obvious. A gymnast is typically shorter and far more muscular, particularly in the upper body. Runners are taller and leaner. Put them side by side and you wouldn’t expect them to perform as well at the same tasks. However, we can’t see physiological differences in our brains, we can only observe behavior. And since the vast majority of people are runners, they don’t understand why we can’t keep up. So they slap labels on us. We’re lazy, stupid, undisciplined, inattentive. You have a disorder.
We know we’re not! And I don’t think I’m dysfunctional. I’d like to be better at long distance running. I’d like to keep up with the pack, and I hate letting them down. I take performance enhancing drugs, fortunately legally, and that helps, but it’s not a panacea. But I wouldn’t trade my abilities to be a better runner. What I need is for my colleagues, my team, to know what I’m good at and understand not expect me to be as good as them at the other things. They need to know when to pass me the baton.
We can’t expect people to recognize these differences unless we educate them as have ourselves. It’s not a dirty little secret. Not anymore. And given my impulsivity and desire to tell everyone about everything I know, I can’t help but want to change everyone’s view of ADD.
So what’s the point of my rant? I’d like to know if any of you have shared your “disorder” with your colleagues. What worked, what didn’t. Ultimately I intend to integrate this into a document I can share. Maybe together we can come up with a generic one member of totallyADD can download and customize.REPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 3:19 am #113640
shutterbug55ParticipantMarch 31, 2012 at 3:19 amPost count: 430
I would NEVER even think about telling people at work I have ADD. Right now, they come to me to solve problems. Problems with math, hardware, software, process improvement, disaster planning, you name it. They hand me the problem and out pops an answer. It’s a pretty sweet gig.
I have to ask. How would anyone knowing about a person’s ADD, improve life for that person? If you mess up, you miss a detail, miss a meeting, what ever it is at work that gets you the label of “Unreliable”. They write it off as a screw-up. If they could put a label on it? I think the entire game would change. Instead of a screw up, it would be the meds or lack of meds. It would be the ADD. Eventually they will come to the same conclusion. “Not worth it” and then no job.
I am 57 now, and I have been diagnosed for a year. Nobody but my family and some people at church know I have ADD. I am sure everyone in church knows, because they have raised gossip to an art form. I don’t know if this has helped or hurt.
I just can’t see any good out of coming out of the closet with the ADD thing.REPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 4:36 am #113641
AnonymousInactiveMarch 31, 2012 at 4:36 amPost count: 14413
I like how you have have come to terms with your ADD and have put things in perspective.
Educating people is important and I admire your healthy approach.
What has been the response from people you have told?
I have tried to educate some friends and family. Their response has ranged from ‘that is interesting’ to
‘blank stares’ and no response at all. Perhaps it is the way I have presented it to them.
I do have strengths that are shared by many people with ADD.
I agree with you about telling people at work. Despite working for a health care consulting company. the ability
of management and people I work with to take the enlightened educated view is limited.
The benefit of sharing the information with people at work might take the pressure off in terms of keeping it a secret.
I don’t think sharing the information would help me in the long term.
I also have to admit I am making assumptions about how people would react. Maybe it would educate them.
and i would be surprised with a positive reaction.REPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 5:36 am #113642
AnonymousInactiveMarch 31, 2012 at 5:36 amPost count: 14413
On a personal note…..I would not share ADD with co-workers…..or anybody else in the workplace. It’s nobodies business in my mind, and the workplace, as I’ve found it………is not a place to expose your heart. Sorry…..but I was on the Management Team for a good portion of my career…..and I’ve listened…..watched and been exposed…..it’s not always pretty or morale. If it comes to you or them it’s you that loses…..all the way up…HR too. Don’t be fooled HR is not for staff…it’s a management tool.
So, me…..I would keep that information too myself……risk benefit analysis……indicates it pays nothing….and risks everything.
Just my opinion…..there are a lot of previous posts on this topic…..read up….see the results.
ToofatREPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 8:46 am #113643
ScattybirdParticipantMarch 31, 2012 at 8:46 amPost count: 1096
This is something that I have considered myself. One person I work closely with knows, mainly because he guessed so I admitted it to him. (See the problem…admitted it…makes my feel like I committed a crime.)
I regret telling that person. Whenever something is not quite right he asks if I have taken my meds. He might be being kind but I have a feeling he possibly thinks I am unreliable now.
However, on balance I would not declare it to anyone else in the work place. Now I have a diagnosis and meds I am trying to regulate the behaviour that made that person guess and having seen how someone else at work has been treated recently I wouldn’t trust HR. We are just payroll numbers that can be erased.
On the other hand if you need specific accommodations then you may wish to declare it in order to get the accommodations. But if you don’t, and you have a job that has sufficient flexibility so that you can adapt to suit your working patterns then I’d keep quiet.
So it depends on your requirements and need for understanding from your bosses. Everybody’s circumstances will be different. For me in my current circumstances, I’d keep quiet.
When it comes to telling work colleagues as opposed to line managers per se, then be careful. Whilst most people are OK many aren’t and it’s human nature to gossip. It you are the brunt of their gossip it’s not a good position to be in. You can educate them all you like about AD/HD but they will have their own exaggerated perceptions.REPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 1:13 pm #113644
CycloneMemberMarch 31, 2012 at 1:13 pmPost count: 37
I’ll preface this with the fact I’m not worried about losing my job. It’s against the law for them to fire me over it, and if anything I think it helps. My shortcomings exist regardless of their knowledge, I figure it can only soften the blow.
I suppose it’s all relative. I’ve been with the same company for over ten years now and have earned a great deal of respect. It’s an international company and I’m known throughout by both our engineering staff and customers as a go to guy for difficult problems. I earned this reputation early on, which is probably why I’ve managed to stay at the same place for so long. I’m constantly interested and I love the challenge and variety.
However, I started a new role in the past year which, for the most part, is even better suited to my talents. Unfortunately it also requires me to be more organized and process oriented. It’s like being in ADD heaven and hell all at once. This is what actually led to my diagnosis. I’ve always had poor organization and time management, but it never mattered so much until now. This led to great frustration and initially I thought it was depression. After seeing “ADD and Loving it!?” everything fell into place and I immediately sought help.
I had my annual performance yesterday. There was the usual praise for the things I do well and an acknowledgement of the things I need to improve on. The whole thing, including my coworkers comments, aligned perfectly with the output of the Virtual Doctor on this site!
Anyway, I decided at that point to tell my manager (Resisting impulse has never been my strong point . Not as an excuse for my shortcomings, but rather as a explanation of why these areas are more challenging for me. I also told him that knowing why I’m this way has helped tremendously. His reaction… he asked if there was anything that management could do to help. It was a huge relief. I didn’t know what to suggest, though I joked that he could start by eliminating my time sheets (they’re never accuarate anyway and cause me more grief than good). I did suggest this means he should not hesitate to remind me when I’m falling behind on something. I have to come up with my goals plan for the next year, so I’m trying to think of how to work this in.
I also told another colleague I work very closely with. He and I are responsible for keeping our project on track. The irony is I’m pretty sure he has ADD too, so it’s like the blind leading the blind! Worse still, I was assigned to this project in the hopes I would help keep him in line!!! Anyway, as I told him about my diagnosis and the difficulties he’s been having, his fist question was “How do find out and get help?”. He and both recognized that we are very alike, both in our creativity and non-linear thought. We have also struggled, together, to keep our project on track. In fact, being that we’re both blind, so to speak, we have actually done a better job together than we otherwise would. I think we intuitively understood how WE need to make things work. I’ve also been more aware of my shortcomings recently and made a greater effort to make up for them.
This colleague and I taked for an hour or so on the topic (all while not getting work done, but I digress). We talked obout our histories, our difficulties at school and how we overcame them (and our shame in our shortcomings). We both have advanced degrees, he has a Ph.D and I have a Masters in Engineering and an MBA. The company we work for is full of people with similar advanced degrees (the minimum requirement for most positions is a Master’s). From what I’ve read about ADD, there are actually a larger proportion of ADDults attracted to engineering and software development and more of these are attracted to creative companies like ours. So there are probably many more of us out there.
So back to the topic. My experience thus far has been good. My manager is understanding and I’ve helped a colleague. My guess is that coming out, particularly given my high profile and respect, might be a good thing for the company. As I said in my original post, we need to work as a team and the best way to do that is to be honest about what we’re good at. Web sites like this one also help, as it portrays ADD in such a positive light.
Sorry for the rant, but this is really cathartic. I may sound sure, but my mind is racing and jumping between whether this is good or bad. The impulsive part of me wants to just do it and deal with the consequences as they come. Maybe it’s my love of chaos! The feeling reminds me of white water kayaking (which I love) and the feeling I get at the top of a big rapid. Every bone in my body says don’t do it, but I know if I just push myself into the current there is turning back, and in the end it all works out and I love the experience.
Argh! What am I getting myself into??!!!REPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm #113645
AnonymousInactiveMarch 31, 2012 at 2:09 pmPost count: 14413
Folks do what they do…….knock yourself out.
ToofatREPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm #113646
CycloneMemberMarch 31, 2012 at 2:45 pmPost count: 37
shutterbug55, you asked:
“How would anyone knowing about a person’s ADD, improve life for that person? If you mess up, you miss a detail, miss a meeting, what ever it is at work that gets you the label of “Unreliable”. They write it off as a screw-up. If they could put a label on it?”
I take the opposite view. If I screw up, I screw up. If my colleages see I’m falling behind, I’d rather they know why and feel comfortable giving me a helpful nudge or reminder, rather than blame it on a moral failing.
I can improve, but I can’t change who I am.REPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm #113647
AnonymousInactiveMarch 31, 2012 at 8:54 pmPost count: 14413
Most of my co-workers know that I have ADD as does my ‘boss’. I’m a teacher in an elementary school in a province in Canada that has only recently declared ADD students to be allowed the benefits of an IEP. Prior to this, an ADDer was just another student who received no supports.
I’ve spoken up about my ADD because I’ve had to listen to the ramblings of my colleagues in the staffroom and most of it is totally incorrect about the facts of ADD.
For example: Once a child enters the teen years they must go off medications because they will mix with their hormones and cause problems.
or When the kids go into puberty the meds don’t work at all anymore. (My thought- does anything work for ANY teenaged kid other than giving them about 5 years to grow and mature? Heehee)
or the best of all: All children grow out of ADD and it isn’t an issue for them anymore as an adult and even if it was still a problem, adults couldn’t take meds because there are no meds that would work. ADD meds only work for children. (I’m gagging while listening to this!!!)
So of course, I have to speak up and put them straight and I hand out as much as I think they are willing to digest on childhood ADD and adult ADD and the meds issue….and….I tell them I myself take meds and for me at least, they REALLY do make a heck of a lot of difference in my day to day life.
Sad that I have to be the one sharing this info with ‘educators’. Yessiree, I’ve read here about the many hassles some of you have had with educators and I get to see some of the same stuff everyday.
So I speak up in my workplace to try to raise the level of knowledge out there. A bit at a time, slowly each day, we can make progress together.
I just posted on a ‘bullying’ thread. I see bullying everyday and unfortunately a preponderance of it comes from adults. Both parents and teachers are the role models for the children learning how to bully. Kind of sad, eh? We’ll never get kids to stop bullying until the adults stop setting the examples!REPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 11:26 pm #113648
ScattybirdParticipantMarch 31, 2012 at 11:26 pmPost count: 1096
Well sounds very positive Cyclone. Well done zsazsa for being brave enough to put your colleagues right.
Maybe the trick is just to be matter of fact. This is what I have, no big deal and I’m not a victim nor will I be treated as one. Who knows…
Guess everyone is different. Well done for being so open about things. You are braver than me.REPORT ABUSEMarch 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm #113649
CycloneMemberMarch 31, 2012 at 11:59 pmPost count: 37
Some people have a really negative view of ADD, but that will never change if you don’t expose your gift. I can understand not wanting to bring this up in a job interview, since false impressions are all too easily made (assuming the interviewer looks at ADD in a negative light). But if your friends and colleagues recognize your gift, why not tell the where it comes from? Help them understand why you are extroardinary in some areas, yet weaker in others.
Look at the good Dr. Jain, Rick and Patrick have done with this site! I would never have accepted that I have ADD if it weren’t for them coming out in such grand form! That takes real courage.
To be honest, I used to look down on those who weren’t like me. I could figure things out quickly, draw connections to other seemingly unrelated things, remain calm under pressure and so on. I couldn’t understand why others couldn’t. Eventually I came to realize that I have a gift for these things just as others have an apparent gift for organization, etc. For Linears, as toofat calls them, the situation is reversed. They look at our difficiencies and ask why we can’t get organized, why do we procrastinate, and so on. They “put up” with our shortcomings just as we learn to “put up” with theirs.
Over time everyone learns to work together. But I think it would be better if we understood cognitive strengths and weaknesses better. Knowledge is power It takes a lot of courage to stand up for change. I think it’s time we all did so.
I want to be open about my ADD to educate my colleagues. I don’t want to change how I’m treated, I want to change the whole organization! Show them how doing a better job of recognizing cognitive strengths can lead to a better, more satisfying and productive workplace. Help them understand that tasks such as time tracking, and skills such as organization, should not be held on equal footing for everyone. Homogeneity doesn’t help anyone, so don’t judge us all the same or expect the same. There are no baseline behaviors or skills. I don’t expect everyone to be as creative as me.
Not that I’m a complete basket case in those other areas. I still need to do my part, just differently.
I have a son who has ADD. Whatever negative impressions may exist today, I don’t want them around when he’s an ADDdult. I would throw myself in front of bus to save his life, why should this be any different?REPORT ABUSEApril 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm #113650
AnonymousInactiveApril 4, 2012 at 4:29 pmPost count: 14413
Cyclone….this is opinion and my experience only and it goes like this….. most other people in the world don’t think about or care about ADD/ADHD…..at all, ever!!!!! Who cares??? Just us….that’s who cares. That’s my experience…..as for changing the whole organization…..go for it!!!! The issues that may arise around that adventure are….too many people are (1) apathetic (2) strongly invested in keeping things the way they are (3) believe that folks make excuses for their short comings (4) have a stack of more urgent business issues to deal with relevant to them and their job!!!
Folks don’t usually want to hear about others people’s…….hmmmm ……..lot in life, ADD or otherwise. Most folks are concerned with their own shit, payments, kids, high cholesterol, taxes….what ever…..fact is, they don’t want to listen to somebody spout about their problems. Some people will be polite, smile…some will even say “oh, I think my husband has that, or my daughter”….or whatever……but they really don’t want to hear it. Another common response is “oh, is that right…I gotta run…talk to you later. I observe folks become very uncomfortable listening to somebodies stuff…….from somebody that is just a business acquaintance none the less.
They really don’t want to hear about your struggle with your job, they have their own real issues….and it’s very risky of you to tell them….”I can’t do my job because I have ADD”….yikes ……nope, that isn’t generally well received. There is also a very very real risk it can be turned against you later, in spite of your very good intentions.
I know that perspective seems harsh or cold……but….it is my observation from years in the business world.
ToofatREPORT ABUSEApril 5, 2012 at 1:11 am #113651
CycloneMemberApril 5, 2012 at 1:11 amPost count: 37
Dude, you take devil’s advocacy to a whole new level!REPORT ABUSEApril 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm #113652
AnonymousInactiveApril 5, 2012 at 4:51 pmPost count: 14413
Well 30 years in business, a great deal of it on the management team….retired now……I learned to lot of stuff about work and the workplace. I just share my experience, folks can do with it what they please…..it is not my place to either judge or advise…just share.
ToofatREPORT ABUSEApril 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm #113653
BillMemberApril 5, 2012 at 6:53 pmPost count: 227
I too want to be very open about what I bring to the table, but I don’t label it, ADHD. I am frank with my staff that someone else needs to be the keeper of the project list and ensure that things get done. I get heavily involved in planning and creative problem solving. I too have over 30 years experience, most of it in consulting, and I agree with toofat. It sounds like making excuses. As an employer, I would much rather have a staff member come to me and say that (s)he needs this or that accommodation to be an effective member of the team than that they would blame a bad result on their condition.REPORT ABUSE
What do you say to your colleagues at work?Cyclone2012-03-30T19:51:44+00:00
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