Accommodations at work: what to ask for?

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    • #63147

      I am a first-time poster as well. Newly diagnosed and working with a psychiatrist who was treating me originally for my bi-polar disorder. I am an executive assistant to a Dean of a college. First boss left 6 months ago with no reviews, no feedback, no expectations for my work. Now I have a very organized, driven boss who is managing us thru a consolidation with a bigger university. AND in 3.5 months I will have yet another boss.
      Current boss wrote a scathing performance review of how many mistakes I have made (spelling names wrong in emails etc) which basically point to my lack of preparedness and failure to understand and carry-out verbal instructions. Current boss indicates that she thinks I am a this point not “up to the task” of working for the new Dean of this bigger university division.
      I have been let go two other times in my life for similar instances and live with alot of shame over those times. And I have also job hopped my entire 30 years of working. Luckily the psychiatrist suggested that ADD may well be the problem. I have started on Vyvanse and am learning as much as possible about techniques for listening and writing down verbal instructions. Any help in that area would be much appreciated! Planners, Better note taking, naything
      I am a creative “people person” at my best. And sometimes I wonder if this is a completely wrong job for me.
      I am supposed to complete the ADA paperwork for our HR department but have no idea what kind of accommodations to ask for. Please help me!

    • #63363

      I think some pretty reasonable accommodations would be
      -To get things in writing(I get everything in either email or printed form).
      -To have a space provided that will allow you to focus(private room, quiet in the office, etc).
      -To allow you to get up and move around often (This is not a problem for me as I am a physical Therapist:Great profession for someone with ADHD by the way)
      As far as organizational tips, I have found calendars/planners to be life changing. Start by filling your planner with all of the recurring things that you need to do daily/weekly/monthly. Next, make sure you actually look at your planner. I find that Google’s “reminders” along with a few well placed alarms will usually get me to (eventually) look at my planner and calendars. This will make it much easier for you to prioritize and allow you to (or, be more likely to) know whether you actually have time for all of the things you want/need to accomplish. Also, sticky notes. Use them, love them, worship them. Once you have completely addressed one sticky note, throw it away so you can better focus on the ones that still need your oh, so precious, attention. As far as “frequent simple mistakes,” I have sticky notes stuck to the side or bottom of my computer screen to remind me of methods to correct them. Some examples could be:”make sure you double check your spelling before hitting send on all emails, especially in regards to client names,” “Make sure you include X,Y,Z (whatever is required to be included) in your emails (or whatever documents you need help with),” or sometimes I have reminders simply to make sure I do the thing I’m supposed to do. Also, don’t feel bad about asking other people to remind you of things, or to clarify how something is spelled. Lastly, have a routine. And make sure that somewhere in your routine is time set aside to be impulsive or inattentive or excitable or hyperactive: time when you don’t need to worry about being anything other who you are. I might also do some soul searching and decide whether this is the right career for you. Maybe, make a list of all things you like (currently or in the past) about your position. Then, make a list of all the things you don’t like/don’t work for you. Then make a list of the things your “ideal” career would include. Go through the lists and remove anything you can change/achieve without changing careers. Then compare them. I’m not an ADHD coach or anything but, I hope that helps.
      The best advice I can give you is to work with a coach/counselor/therapist to learn the best ways to manage your symptoms and keep you accountable. They can help with that “shame” you mentioned and teach you methods for handling your emotions. It might seem wild right now but, it gets better. Getting diagnosed allowed me to change my life for the better. I found a career that I am passionate about and I have been able to hold a steady position and actually earn the respect of my coworkers, who, by the way, see me as a role model and not as a screw up. I am able make my friends feel like I actually give a darn about them. Most of all, it gave me what I needed to save my marriage and(finally) allow my poor wife to feel like she’s not alone in this relationship. Bonus! I actually follow-through-with/finish (almost)all of the things start/take-on. In summation of this mammoth wall of text, stick with it and keep your head up, buddy! You’re going like wherever this rabbit hole leads you.

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by roobles1. Reason: Clarification, background
      • #63365

        Yes, I see the irony in the fact that I forgot a few words, here and there. Also, when I was rambling on about holding a steady job, I ought to have mentioned why that is significant: I have been fired at least 3 times that I can remember, and I have switched jobs and career paths numerous times for various reasons that can all be traced back to ADHD. Oh! Also, I totally meant to say that “you are going *to* like wherever this rabbit hole leads you.”

        • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by roobles1. Reason: I'm still kind of an idiot sometimes
    • #63369

      In regards to the “oral instructions,” can you ask to be able to write it down, then repeat it back to them and verify that you correctly/fully understand exactly what is being delegated to you?

      • #63373

        I mean, they can’t get mad at you for wanting to make sure you are doing what they want you to be doing. Right?

    • #64324

      Hi! I understand what you mean as similar experience has happened to me. However, how do you feel when you are at work/ doing the type of work that you often make mistakes at? Do you reply enjoy the woek that you do? Because if you do definitely find out how you can get accommodations and stand up for them -politely but firmly. I work with individuals with disabilities and children with autism, and have taken Deaf studies and through this that the most important thing to getting accommodations is self advocacy. ( or advocacy/allyship I general). People often have a hard time seeing past their own issues and problems, as well as the things they do well at and therefore when other people have difficultoes it’s hard to sympathize. Especially if you are successful in other areas of your life. So they may not be willing to follow through, or will delay getting you the accommodations you need and deserve. But if you are adamant about it in a way that is calm and confident they will help you-especially if you are open with them about how exactly not having those accommodations affect you/your work. Because you have already been working there you are kind of at an advantage because they don’t have the ability say you are unqualified for the position in order to save costs on whatever accommodations you might need ( such as special technology like dragon dictation) because you have a diagnosis and it would be unethical and potentially illegal for them to let you go. Having said that if you are stressed keeping up with the work and are only working it because you’ve been doing it for a while or because the money is good or whatever reason, and not because you enjoy it I would say find a different job. There are MANY companies and forms of work that are perfect for someone who is a creative people person that you might like better and be better suited for. Obviously most people can’t just up and leave their jobs due to financial reasons bUT if this sounds more like how your work is I would consdr saving up enough to live off for a bit, volunteering in areas that it interest you if you can aND see if a career change is a good idea for you. If you are spending most of your workday stressed out about making errors then that’s alot of your life spent stressed about something that could be easly fixed by figuring out where your skills are needed most ( and of course a place that you enjoy- maybe it’s the same type of work but with a more forgiving employer? Cause just because this person thinks you can’t handle the job doesn’t mean that you can’t find a place where they work with you to make sure you can)( but ya being upfront and transparent and even if you can explain a bit of how ADD works within the brain chemistry that cold help. I find alot of people respond if I explain what happens in the add brain- cuz all the pieces kind of start to fall into place and make sense.

      • #64644


        thank you so much for insightful answer. I do need to search myself to see what parts of this job or nay job I enjoy and excel at. No one at this job has set any goals for me in 17 months, and my previous supervisor was kind of a No-Show.
        I believe that my hormones at age 56 are causing my symptoms to rocket off the charts. Apparently I have been able to keep the Inattentive ADD under control for many years. If I didn’t need the healthcare benefits I would quit working and quilt full-time. But it is just a little too soon for that! Plus I am a people-person who thrives on contact with others.

    • #64641

      I am a 30 y/o mechanical engineer who was diagnosed when I went back to college at 22 and really started struggling to NOT procrastinate on assignments and reading. College took me 6 years, as I transferred from a community college, but I got through it with 1.5X time for taking exams and really working with a McBurney counselor on time management and executive functioning skills. What really helped in scheduling my entire day in Gmail’s calendar (with alerts!) for: classes, lectures, meetings, team meetings, appointments, studying times, reading blocks, etc. It seemed like extreme OCD to my friends but it worked for me.

      After finally graduating (with a not so stellar GPA, but a BS in Mech Engineering from a Big 10 school) my first two roles at my current big aerospace manufacturing company were supervising first two department of 30 total ppl, and then 4 months later a single department with 12 ppl. This was in operations and I actually thrived at the quickly paced day-to-day chaos, as it kept me moving and the days went by much quicker. I was able to fix many big issues that other past supervisors couldn’t and actually had back to back record quarters in my departments. I have learned I work better under stress/pressure as it keeps my brain stimulated and focused.

      Once my time was done supervising, I transitioned to a new role as a Manufacturing Engineer. My biggest struggle was sitting at a desk and doing project management and completing tasks in a timely manner with an open “work at my own pace” environment. This was a new role here and my boss and I never set hard due dates until 6 months in. I have a great working relationship with my boss, but I feel that people with ADHD are SO self-aware of their short-comings that it effects day-to-day functioning. I find myself taking twice the time on projects just because I lose interest, can’t complete things that have drug on for too long, or spend far more time proof-reading my work or emails just to not make these mistakes. I am also constantly comparing my work with other peers, which takes a toll on my self esteem.

      One tool I used as a vehicle team leader in college, and continued using at work, is a website tool called This is a very simple bulletin point note taking tool that has helped my daily functioning exponentially! I open it as soon as I get in every morning, and throughout the day I use it to add and organize daily tasks for projects and newly developed problems that arise. I have an on-going “Monday To-dos” thread at the top, followed by all my 20+ projects I am working on (yes, 20, that has been another issue I have been working on with my boss). On Tuesday I simple change Monday to Tuesday, shocking, as so forth. I use the site during meetings and the simple Workflowy App when I am walking around the plant (or outside of work) to add needed action items to my to-do list. This also comes in handy at night when I remember I forgot to do/add something.
      The key to this site is its simplicity. I highly recommend trying it. It made sense for me to upgrade to the paid version, as I was able to get compensated for it, maybe it will work for you too.
      Also, look into or Basecamp for more project management tools. I have found the quickness and simplicity of Workflowy is perfect for my fast paced brain however. I know every ADHD person is different, as the scale of our weaknesses vary across every trait (I don’t struggle with forgetting little details too much), but this has worked wonders for me professionally. Hope this helps someone!

    • #64643

      Oh my goodness. You’re post was great! I agree that I am 2X as harder on myself to be perfect. But going from a boss who hardly ever even checked in to one who corrects my spelling errors and sends them back to me in an email is awful. The humiliation is disastrous to my self-esteem, even if she isn’t telling any of the other faculty members in the University. And I can’t say that she isn’t complaining about me to others, because she would.
      Apparently I have been able to compensate for a very, very long time. Or I just picked up and moved to another job. I have gone from a product manager taking care of The Home Depot and Target, to an admin assistant. And from the assistant to a hospital CEO to the front desk of a medical clinic. When I began to feel like I couldn’t handle the normal tasks of the job, I quit and went to something beneath that position. Repeatedly. Now I know that I could have conquered those tasks and problems with help.
      I have always been smart, intuitive and very creative; apparently none of that is worth anything to this supervisor. I would love to say at this University because of the people and benefits, as well as the faculty. But this Dean is telling me that she thinks I can’t handle the work. She tells me that the new incoming Dean “has very smart people who work for him.” Unspoken is she thinks I’m not.
      Everybody dreads being compared to an imposter, right? That is the way I feel she sees me.
      I love structure, so I definitely will check out the app you mentioned. I do use Google calendar and its reminders!

    • #65155

      It is past time for me to review these and make some changes but the below list is what I currently have on file for both my ADHD and Graves Disease accommodations. The FMLA related ones are for the Graves. Happy to share any other info about the process. And really interested in other’s ideas!!! I work in cubicle hell in the IT department for a large hospital.

      Her department presently allows the following flexibility for its employees as long as the
      expectations of the job are met:
      Flexible work schedules
      Liberal use of approved leave time
      Ability to work from home
      Rest breaks are available as needed
      Her department has made interim accommodations for her by moving her desk.
      She presently uses headphones in an effort to reduce noise/distractions. Her
      department will order specific “noise reduction” headphones — Amanda will obtain a
      recommendation from her doctor for the headphones.
      Her supervisor will schedule a weekly meeting to touch base with Amanda — meeting
      should last no longer than 30 minutes. Amanda will notify her supervisor when such
      weekly meetings are no longer needed.
      Her department has begun furnishing written minutes from meetings, etc., and have
      plans to continue this practice.
      Current process is working with how the agenda is documented, which creates more
      structured meetings.
      Mary Nell Donoho will submit FMLA paperwork to Amanda to complete as it relates to
      her Graves Disease and associated episodes which prevent her from working.

    • #65475

      I work in the medical field. I work as an anesthesia technician/L P N. I basically clean the anesthesia related equipment after surgical procedures are completed. I also run blood tests and trouble shoot the equipment as needed. I have multiple operating room assignments at one time. Its just the way it is for all of us. We relieve each other for a 45 minute lunch and that increases the number of operating rooms to be responsible for. I also have sleep apnea and get out of breath, and I am hearing impaired from the Army. My supervisor has received numerous complaints from doctors and nurses regarding my conduct, how they perceive me when I am amped up, because I get over whelmed with being called to multiple rooms at the same time. The department is very disorganized and lacks adequate team work. I was put on final warning because of a recent reprimand, I have a clean record not write ups. what work accommodations can I ask for that a hospital can provide without undo hardships or un-reasonable requests. I am in a difficult environment, they know about my challenges so does H.R, as well as the office for disability support for employees. when I try to defend myself to my supervisor all I get is invalidated and Its my fault in the end. There are many distractions during the performance of my duties, which frustrates me even more because it is caused by coworkers that are lazy. I am told that the complaints are from how people interpret me, or I ask the people calling me over the cell phones we are given for the block of operating rooms assigned. It can get busy really quick, and this is the nature of the beast. My coworkers are not very sympathetic to my challenges which adds to the anxiety and stress I am under. Can anyone please tell me what accommodations can I ask for. thank you Glen

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