Is ADHD a Disability?: A frequently asked question 
 
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition which can be diagnosed in childhood. For the majority of people, it will continue into adulthood. It involves specific changes in the brain which can be observed scientifically. For a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, they not only have to have symptoms – problems with attention and/or with being impulsive and hyperactive – they also have to show that their symptoms are having a significantly negative impact on at least two areas of their life such as their: 
 
work or life at school or university 
leisure time 
family life 
self-confidence and self-image 
social life 
What is ADHD? 
 
So, ADHD is a long-term condition which has a significantly negative impact on life. In the UK, the legal definition of a disability, according to The Equality Act 2010 is: 
 
a physical or mental impairment 
that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ (12 months or more) negative effect on a person’s ability to do day to day activities. 
 
According to UK law, the answer to the question “Is ADHD a Disability?” is that a person who has a formal diagnosis of ADHD may be considered to have a disability if their condition firstly, has a “substantial” and secondly, a “long-term” negative effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. 
 
An employer then has a responsibility to consider making “reasonable adjustments” to support the person to do their job. Similarly, a school, college or university also has to make “reasonable adjustments to support a student. 
Is ADHD a Disability? 
 
So, in terms of UK law, the answer to the question, “Is ADHD a Disability?” is “Yes!” 
 
However, many people with ADHD also recognise that, despite the challenges it may give them, they also have ways of being in the world which are distinctive and creative. 
 
Precisely because of the struggle someone with ADHD may have to get their jumping-about-brain to focus on paying the bills or sorting their diary, they may come up with solutions to a work problem that has never occurred to their colleagues and never would occur to their colleagues however long they wrestled with the problem.  
 
The Institute of Leadership and Management has a helpful article: Workplace Neurodiversity: The Power Of Difference:  
Adult ADHD 
 
Is ADHD a Disability? is a key question if an employee with ADHD is to receive the support they need to do their job to the best of their ability. It is also important for an employee with ADHD to be able to compete equally with their colleagues for promotion and progression in their workplace. It is only if a person is judged to have a disability that an employer in the UK is bound to consider making “reasonable adjustments” to support them. 
 
An adult with ADHD, like anyone else with a disability or illness, or condition they have to manage, may need some specific adjustments in their work, college or university life to support them. 
 
For example, someone with ADHD may get easily distracted by noise in an open-plan office. A “reasonable adjustment” might be that their work-station is moved to a quieter part of the office which isn’t next to the coffee machine. 
 
Or they might be given permission to wear headphones so that they can concentrate on their own work and not the 17 interesting conversations going on in other areas of the office. 
 
Or perhaps they negotiate with their manager that they will work at home more often than their colleagues because there are less distractions there. 
 
If someone struggles with sitting in long meetings because they become restless and lose their focus, their team may decide to take more frequent breaks, or it might be agreed that standing or moving about is acceptable. 
Students with ADHD 
 
Is ADHD a Disability? is a crucial question if someone is to receive the support they need to complete their studies successfully and enjoy their time at college or university. 
 
A student with ADHD, may feel completely overwhelmed when it comes to organising material for a long essay. They may be offered specific coaching in the stages they need to go through to collect, plan and write their essay. They might be introduced to apps they can use to control their diary and reduce the number of lectures and appointments which are missed and coached in how to use them. 
ADHD Adult Assessment 
 
If an adult, who thinks they may have ADHD, wants to ask for “reasonable adjustments” to be made by their employer, college or university, then they will need to have gone through an ADHD Assessment and received a formal diagnosis. 
Tagged as: ADHD
Share this post:

Leave a comment: 

Our site uses cookies. For more information, see our cookie policy. Accept cookies and close
Reject cookies Manage settings