ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. You may find that some individuals use the term ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) to describe their condition, but this diagnosis was retired and is the same as ADHD. Not everyone has the hyperactivity element, which also explains why some individuals may prefer to continue using ADD. A common misconception is that ADHD refers to an inability to focus; however, it would be more accurate to say that it is difficulty in directing focus, and in fact the ability to hyper-focus is one of the many skills associated with ADHD.

Skills and strengths

Often when we learn about different disabilities and health conditions there is too much emphasis on the difficulties rather than the abilities. Having ADHD can also give individuals valued skills and qualities such as:

  • strong 3D visual skills;
  • problem solving;
  • greater creativity and lateral thinking;
  • ability to see the bigger picture;
  • ingenuity and diversity of thought, avoiding group think and often highlighting ways in which things can improve;
  • communication.

Common issues

People with ADHD most commonly require assistance with:

  • Memory
  • Organisational skills
  • Time Management
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Concentration
  • Listening & Taking Notes
  • Executive function – task initiation, planning etc.
  • Distractibility
  • Emotional dysregulation

Things to consider

Although ADHDers do share common traits and struggles, it is important to remember that individuals may still have different needs. With that in mind, when managing or supporting a colleague with ADHD, you may want to suggest some of the following tips and techniques:

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This could mean having multiple reminders, using a virtual scheduling tool or building in more frequent check-ins with regards to projects. As object permanence can be a struggle, often traditional tools such as planners are simply ineffective.

ADHDers often operate in two modes of time - ‘Now’ and ‘not now’ - so deadlines are a vital part of enabling individuals to prioritise tasks and can be a useful tool in general for managers and their teams.

Focusing on the correct thing can be difficult for people with ADHD. Often trying to focus on one task (especially if it is a task that does not meet the needs of a dopamine driven nervous system) can be challenging for ADHDers and a failure to do so can add to feelings of guilt, overwhelm and shame.

Instead, consider identifying priorities and encouraging the individual to intersperse those tasks with ones that do provide more stimulation. Essentially, give them permission to play to their strengths. (It is important to note that difficulties with focus can be helped with medical intervention but that hormonal variations can often worsen ADHD symptoms).

Individuals with ADHD can struggle with organisation, so when suggesting strategies to minimise visual distraction think of solutions that require minimal effort to maintain and factor in an ADHDer’s lack of object permanence. For instance, having a clear plastic box on their desk where they can put items enables them to keep things relatively tidy with minimal effort. It also gives them a clear place to look in the event that they misplace something

A regular work routine can be helpful, but it is important to emphasise that routines can and should be flexible. They should also include sensory resets to ensure that ADHDers can self-regulate.

Consider relocating to a desk away from main thoroughfares or near gathering points such as a kitchen.

This can help aid focus and concentration 

Consider allowing the employee to work remotely some of the time as this gives them greater control over their environment and any potential distractions. It also increases the amount of executive function the individual has available by cutting out commuting time and transport.

Consider making clear meeting etiquette and allowing the individual to ‘stim’ (repetitive, self-regulatory behaviours) or move.

Consider receiving support from a specialist ADHD skills mentor via schemes such as Access to Work. Access to Work will also fund ADHD awareness training which can help enable colleagues and managers to better support ADHDers.

Regular and effective one to ones can be a useful way of providing routine and support.

Diagnosis and ADHD referral pathways

Although not everyone with ADHD chooses or benefits from medical intervention, for many others it is life changing. Currently the University does not provide in-house diagnostic assessments for staff. NHS waiting lists are currently around 2 years. However, individuals can use the NHS right to choose to pursue a funded private diagnosis. It is important to note that due to unprecedented demand many of these services have waiting lists or closed books, but it is still worth checking.

It may be appropriate for departments to consider funding a diagnostic assessment, but this will be at their discretion.

Further Resources:

There are many excellent resources available to people who want to learn more about ADHD and supporting ADHDers. When looking at support, it is important to choose resources from neurodivergent (preferably ADHD) organisations as much as possible. Below are some resources you can explore:

ADHD Girls

Black Girls Lost Keys

ADHD Unlocked


The ADHD Advocate


Contact us

Contact the Staff Disability Advisor on