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ADHD and Impairment in Adults in the Workplace

The Center for Disease Control estimates that approximately four per cent of the workforce suffers from some impairment due to the effects of an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Among adults who have left jobs in the past ten years, forty three per cent relate that these changes are directly attributable to ADHD symptoms. In addition, there is almost a one hundred per cent increase in the frequency and intensity of disruptive and problematic behaviors associated with ADHD in comparison to individuals who do not show ADHD symptoms. These difficulties include disorganization, problems handling expected work loads, following instructions and being a position to be promoted within the company for work performance.

Craig Surman M.D. (American Psychiatric Association meeting- 2005) noted that adults diagnosed with ADHD reported functional difficulties due to ADHD symptoms both in high school and afterwards as adults in their vocational settings. It was also reported that in the past ten years, the ADHD subjects held more jobs on average than individuals without ADHD. Those diagnosed with symptoms of ADHD were also less likely to report positive interpersonal relationships with parents and peers, and twenty eight per cent of those with ADHD had been divorced, compared with fifteen per cent of controls. Reports also indicated that these ADHD adults were also more likely to have had negative feelings of self-worth both during adolescence and in adulthood. As with many other studies over the last twenty years, the persistence of ADHD into adulthood is well documented, and can cause significant disruption in the lives of those afflicted, as well as the co-workers and family members of those diagnosed with the disorder.

Ronna Fried et. al (Pyschiatric Services 56: 1617-1620, 2005), who has studied ADHD impairment in the workplace recently noted that the skills necessary to succeed vocationally, including allocating time, inhibiting inappropriate impulses, shifting sets, planning, working memory, self monitoring and time perception are all essential to the performance of work related tasks. Of course these skills are also essential to executive functioning and attention related competence, regardless of the nature of the task at hand. Individuals who have these difficulties will of course struggle to a greater degree in terms of particularly managing tasks which require the ability to prioritize and organize oneself independently. These skills are absolutely essential to being a productive and contributing member of the workforce, and it is precisely this difficulty that often leads to disciplinary actions, job changes and work related stresses that one often sees.

Dr. Scott Howard provides supervision, inservice presentations, and consultation to schools, healthcare facilities and clinics as well as neuropsychological evaluations for the educational and medical community in the Greater Boston Area with locations in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire . For more information visit Howard Learning Assessment Services at http://www.howardlas.com or email Neuropsycheval@aol.com.

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