As an undiagnosed child, I used to sit in class, looking about at my peers in dismay. I couldn’t figure out how they were able to sit in their seats as instructed, listen, and complete their tasks peacefully while I struggled. It seemed as though they were aware of something I had no idea of. Perhaps it was a special power or a secret I was unaware of. To say the least, it was hard! It was hard to experience every day like this, to see myself in comparison to everyone else and not receive the help I needed. I would love to say things got better as I progressed through high school, university and the job, but it didn’t.
My differences, in fact, only became more apparent with time. The pure exhaustion I felt even from just a 20-minute meeting spoke volumes! It was not until I became a teacher and saw other students themselves struggling just like I did that I realised I had to make a difference. I felt obligated to create the change for them that I had not been given. Following my ADHD diagnosis, I also realised that I, too, deserved and needed these changes. These changes are what we call:
An “accommodation” is a change brought to an environment, a curriculum format or equipment to allow an individual to work around their disability and access content and/or complete tasks that are assigned. Accommodations help students with disabilities to follow a typical or regular course of study.
What we don’t realise is that not everyone learns, processes or, to put it bluntly, does anything the same way. We are taught that there is only one correct way to accomplish anything and that if you do not follow that pathway, there is something wrong with you that needs fixing. However, the contrary is true. Everyone is different and everyone has the freedom to do things their way rather than being compelled to conform to a one-way system. It is time to change the system, not the individual!
When it comes to ADHD & getting accommodations it is no different. When you have a diagnosis of ADHD, you are entitled to alterations that can make tasks more manageable and life easier for you.
Here are some facts about ADHD & Accommodations:
As no one with ADHD is the same, we may all need very different accommodations based on our challenges and individual strengths.
Unfortunately, I never received accommodations as a child because I was undiagnosed. Certain changes and strategies would have certainly made life a lot easier. And now, as an adult, I allow myself to receive the accommodations I did not have the chance to make use of when I was younger. Taking this step was an uphill battle not because of having to convince others on how I deserved certain alterations but because of having to convince myself that I needed to work differently to harness my strengths.
I did receive accommodations as a child in school but it took my parents a long time to get me to that point. Not everyone agreed with the accommodations I received; however, I did not mind as they made the biggest impact on my learning experience.
After a diagnosis, getting accommodations at work was a huge battle! I knew I was in the right to receive them; this did not make a difference. It took me leaving one job to find another one that would give me the fairness and respect I needed and deserved.
As an Individual with ADHD, you are in the right to ask for alterations in your workplace, social groups, homes, and school! And this does not mean you are wrong or need to be fixed. We just work differently!
Here are my top I’s to finding the right accommodations for your ADHD:
Think about what you or your child needs: Think about the challenges that arise in different situations and what the possible solutions are. After all, accommodations can make life easier, tasks more manageable and enable an individual to get the job done more easily. Accommodations take up many forms. For example, it could be a fidget toy, longer breaks, use of headphones and many more!
Research what your organisation offers and what you are entitled to: Do your research before speaking to anyone. Find out what you are entitled to by law and see how others do it too. This can help you advocate for yourself and go through the right channels to get what you deserve.
Speak to others who have been through it: Reach out to others at your workplace or school who are on the same boat and see how they worked around it. Go on support groups, forums, and social media! Trust me, several others would love to discuss their experiences.
Make a list or research folder on exactly what you need: Be prepared! Have your list and research folder ready so that you are always able to inform, advocate and ask for accommodations whenever needed. The more informed you can be, the better!
Speak to your organisation/school: Go ahead and speak to your organisation about the accommodations you need. Having done the research and keeping that list ready will surely help if you meet with any resistance! (Note: leave out mentioning ADHD and instead, just communicate your needs. This sometimes helps to open up many more doors).
Finally, if you are lost then reach out for help: You are not alone!
And remember that just because you may not work in the way society wants you to does not mean that you are an outcast! And you have every right to get the life you need and deserve.
I will leave you with one last question:
What is it that you need to make your life easier?