Do you tell your boss you have ADHD?

My husband suffered heat exhaustion while on the job a couple of weeks ago and ended up in the ER.   Since he was on the job at the time of the heat exhaustion, he was given a drug test.  The drug test came back positive for amphetamines. Well, since he takes Adderall for ADHD and since Adderall is an amphetamine, he was fired last Wednesday.  His supervisor who fired him was very professional and even though my husband explained that he takes this medication for ADHD, since there was no documentation in his file, he was still let go. The company had no choice but to follow through with the termination.  His supervisor told him to appeal this and he has already filed an appeal and sought  help from the company ombudsman. (this was this past Thursday and Friday).  His doctor also wrote a letter stating that he has ADHD and his medication.

Now we are waiting...and waiting...and the fear and disappointment builds.   I feel confident that this will be resolved--eventually--however, it is now 4 days that he has not worked.  That begins to add up, especially when the bills keep coming in.

So, the moral of this story? To tell or not to tell, your boss that you have ADHD?  I told my husband when he interviewed for this job that he needed to be upfront about his ADHD.  He said he was embarrassed and did not want to tell them. He drives a truck, so he is subjected to random drug tests anyway, so this was my reasoning for him to disclose this to his boss.  Now here we are. In a big mess and while I try not to get mad, it's very hard.  The American's with Disability Act (ADA signed into law 1990) protects people with ADHD in the workforce from unlawful discrimination, but there has to be disclosure so they will know! This has been a lot of my husband's problem with his ADHD.  Denial at first. Embarrassment--not wanting to be diagnosed with a "disorder."  But he has finally started to accept his diagnosis and is taking his meds regularly.

Talk about the irony!  I know there is a lesson in this somewhere, but it's kind of hard to see it right now! 

blueroses4me's picture


While I understand where you are coming from, I find your comment very disturbing. First of all, keeping ADHD a secret isn't the way to get the help and understanding those of us with ADHD need. Secondly, there is a law that protects Americans from workplace discrimination and harassment.  My husband was DRUG TESTED.  He HAS to disclose that he has ADHD or else we don't stand a chance of appealing his termination.

What is going on in this country when people with disabilities are ridiculed and shunned?


I understand where you are

I understand where you are coming from it is a tough place to be. I also take medications for my ADD and I think that it is important for employers to know that you are medications. My son also has add and is on medications. He went on a field trip to washington dc with his class and I thought that it was important for his chaperone to know. He was very angry with me at first because unfortunately she told the other kids he was with. I explained that if something happened it would be important for chaperones to know what meds he was taking.

I don't think that all the employees need to know that i have ADD. There are a few trusted people that I work with that know, and sometimes we joke about it. It is pretty amazing how many people are affected by ADHD either having it or know someone that does. We have had many conversations about it at work, and even if i wanted to hide it sometimes it is pretty evident. People are more likely to shun or ridicule others when they don't understand a persons behavior. It's amazing how understanding and helpful can be when they understand you better. I am very comfortable with my add diagnosis and find every day a new day to make improvements.  I hope that he doesn't get fired  because he has add.

blueroses4me's picture

your words are very kind and I appreciate

them! It is sad that we live in a nation that is overwhelmed with information, but it doesn't seem to be sinking through.  I agree with you, many times when the diagnosis is disclosed to a boss, friend, etc., they do the "oh, okay" like "that explains a lot!"  Then we usually laugh. I think it's better for them to know why I'm all over the map and "flighty" than have them think something totally different. I don't use it as an excuse though, because I'm still responsible for my behavior.

I teach Special Education. This issue is very important to me for many reasons.

A retard???

As the parent of a significantly learning-disabled child, I find your use of the word "retard" to be extremely offensive.  I cannot believe that someone with ADHD who strongly dislikes being called "childish" or "child-like" (as I read in one of your posts), would use the word "retard" so casually.  My son has been called that and other children...but an adult who uses it?  Truly, truly sad.

Any disability....and I have one as a handicap whether in the workplace or not, but I would not dream of affixing a label....especially one so anyone. :(

Miss Behaven's picture

I get

deleted by Melissa Orlov

The way you worded it didn't

The way you worded it didn't sound like you were repeating something someone has said to you, but more like you were saying it like in your own words what people will think of you if you behave a certain way. Maybe it's just that you didn't make that clear, but if you read it I'm sure you'll see why some of us were offended by it. Not trying to play 'that card' but I too have a special needs son and when I read your use of that word I was disappointed that it seemed like part of your own personal vocabulary, especially since you're so passionate about being treated fairly for your 'condition'. I will apologize ahead of time, sorry if I'm wrong.

You're right, here in the USA

You're right, here in the USA it is a derogatory term and is very hurtful. Glad you cleared up the misunderstanding. As I stated, I was certain it was some type of communication block and apologized in advance.

Pink's picture

Miss Behaven

Dear Miss Behaven: You seem to be all over the place. I understand you have ADD and your "whole" family... in many post you said you are doing fine and doing good with your family. Good for you. My question is why are you here then? Get off the site and move on with your life and enjoy it. Let the one who is having a problem get some help. Every Topic I turn to.. you are on it.  Do you work? It seem like you are on this site 24 hours. Please stop attaching other people of how they feel.  Guest what... some people with ADD behave very nice and are are more aware and know how to control it and other do not care or can't control it. When they don't control it or can't control it they look like that they are out of it. Their behavior is unacceptable in the general world. As the matter of fact you are losing your control on this site of how other see things. This is the one of the major problem with ADD people they stick to the topic and love to attach words and opinions of others.  Please...Knock it off and snap out of it.

Carmen's picture

People can be mean to ADDers

The ADD world is not well received sometimes. It is a pity and a shame that the non-ADDs think they are "better", they are "smarters", etc, this is not true. They can be misjudged very easily. The way the ADDs process information is different and should be respected. Plus: in many ways ADDs can be more accurate than non-ADDs.

Again, a blanket criticism of

Again, a blanket criticism of all people who don't have ADD that is completely inaccurate, just as the blanket 'labels' for people who have ADD are inaccurate. My husband is extremely intelligent and I would never EVER consider myself smarter than someone just because they had ADD. "Better" is a very large word. Some of the ways I treat people I love ARE far better than my husbands. He's caused a lot of hurt and suffering to those who love him, worst of all my children, that I would never cause them. WE are all learning about his diagnosis in the hopes that we can all heal from the hurt. That's not to say I haven't hurt him too, no one is perfect. Most people, when married and parents, focus on doing everything to protect and nurture the family and marriage. That is not the case in my situaiton with my ADDer...and that is where the "better" feelings come from. Once a diagnosis is made and everyone gets help dealing with it, there is a much better understanding. What I cannot excuse away or won't excuse away is those that refuse to get help, knowing that their marriages and families are suffering. Doesn't make them "worse" or anyone else "better" just makes them selfish.

Carmen's picture

Just a clarification

Hi,  just a clarification: when I said above that sometimes non-ADDs think they are "better" or "smarters" I was not generalizing anything... I was just making a comment based in true facts. It does happen sometimes. Unfortunately, it really does... I also have an ADD husband who, in my opinion is extremely smart. The proof is: he is an MD!! He knows so much about so much. I am a very proud wife. But as a school boy... he was often misjudged... often treated badly, as if he "could not learn anything"... Mistreated by teachers, peers and even family, who could not see the world as he did. But, back then, no one knew what ADD was... he was then labelled: a difficult boy. But thanks to his determination, he went far away and transforming his ADD condition into an asset: taking what is good about it and changing his own perspective... and now helping others with the same condition. I confess that sometimes, in our relationship, because I was not used to the ADD world, I misjudged him too in several occasions... later on, when I finally understood in practical ways (I am still learning and getting help about this, our son is also ADD) what ADD was, our relationship got much much better. Now, I totally agree with you about "refusing to get help"... In an ADD environment everyone needs help. This is a family issue, not an individual issue and I my experience, I needed help (and still needs) in finding out ways to deal with this situation. But what I really found is that togetherness, empathy and love are the basic ingredients to make things easier... Everyone committed to these 3 words. Unfortunately family history, or issues other than ADD (depression, bipolarity, etc.) can get in the middle of this commitment and make things worse. It is NOT AN EASY ROAD. But do not lose your faith. I really wish the best for you, your husband and kids!!!!

I would venture a guess that

I would venture a guess that my husband went through some of what you're describing as a child, feeling like people thought he was stupid (his own father would tell him so often, sadly) and never feeling like he fit in. When he tells me that I was the first person in his life to EVER support him and love him, flaws and all, it breaks my heart to believe that he really means it. How sad it makes me to think he never felt that from anyone before me...not even his own mother. I think I was under the impression that you were saying that people HERE think they're smarter than their ADD spouses or better...and I just wanted to make sure no one thought I felt that way at all. Empathy and love are key to making marriages work...and it is essential that both partners in the marriage feel love and empathy for each other. I cannot imagine that I could cope if my husband weren't willing to get help. I let go of the resentment and anger and most importantly the past...and feel grateful that we are moving forward, together, on the same page. I agree too...everyone in the situation needs help..not just the person with ADD.


Please do not take this as a rebuke, for it is not intended to be so.  It was not the statement that is an issue, but the totality of the statement that was an issue.  You, essentially, stated that all people without ADD feel they are better than those with it, and you then try to explain why.  Please, in the future, be careful not to make blanket generalizations about either ADHD or non-ADHD people.  We are all different, all of us, even if there are patterns that many people follow.  Using words like "some" or "many" can help make your statements more accurate and less unnecessarily offensive.

Carmen's picture

Thank you for your note.

Thank you for your note. Sometimes what we say can really be taken in the wrong direction and I really appreciate that you mentioned that. I honestly never meant ALL non-ADD people feel they are better, in any way. We are ALL so different! I said SOMETIMES non-ADDs think they are better. And this is a painful reality. Living for 10 years with an ADD, I do not believe ADDs are worse than non-ADDs or the opposite (see my other posts on this forum). But unfortunately there is a stigma that should be extinguished against ADDs. And I am personally embracing this cause, for my husband, for our son, for myself, for our families and all ADD families. It is common to see ADDs been mistreated by non-ADDs. And this is the reason why ADDs try to avoid telling their bosses they are ADDs... This is the reason why there are campaigns on TV and on the media in order to give respect and a chance to people in this situation. Now, I tend to believe (I do not know if this is true or not, I just believe) that many (not most, not all) ADDs have learned how to be defensive, how to be rude, because they were mistreated growing up... Professionally, I do believe that they could be better than non-ADDs! In  a personal level myself I have experienced all types of feelings, good and bad, better and worse as a spouse too... I think it takes a great effort from both spouses to understand how each other think.. and how your ways of thinking affect the ways your partner think... It is a struggle from both parts, having ADD or not in-between! I have been married for 10 years now... and I am still learning about my beloved spouse and about me and both of us learning each day how to be more caring, more respectful, more loving, more passionate in our daily lives. It is worth the try! And it is an every day chore!:) Thank you again for your note. I wish you all the best.

I must just have had a completely different experience

as I was raised to not be prejudiced, but it is these types of "causes"  and statements like  "ADDers are great!  We should all respect them! ADD rah rah rah"  that make me roll my eyes.  OF COURSE we should all be respected, but not because we have or do not have ADD.  We should respect each other because we are human.

Are there professional jobs where a person with ADD is better than a person without ADD?  OF COURSE   Are their jobs where people without ADD do a better job than a person with ADD?  CERTAINLY   Are these things necessarily ADD related?  Nope I don't think so.  Sometimes they are just interest-related.  Some jobs are more suited to an ADD brain, some to a non, but there are plenty of ADDers out there doing jobs normally  more suited to a nonADD brain, and they are succeeding quite well because they are interested enough in the subject, or just flat out motivated enough in some other way to stay engaged and do a good job.  You can be ADD and have a good work ethic.  You can be nonADD and have a lousy work ethic and everything else along the spectrum.


I get so sick of hearing and reading "nonADDers are judgemental", or "ADDers are lazy".  NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE TRUE ALL THE TIME.  And I get tired of defending nonADDers because we shouldn't need to be defended because we have/don't have ADD but because NONE OF US ARE THE SAME.  But we are on the same team and trying to get on the same page with our loved ones with ADD, why on earth attack each other while we are trying to get to the same place??  If you have a nonADD person in your life who you feel judges you, then I am sorry for it but it is hardly the fault of every nonADD person out there.   And it may not be true that they judge you anyway, they may just be tired of certain behaviors you exhibit.  If you have a lazy ADD person in you life, then I am really sorry for you too, but I know that is not a quality of ADD per se since my ADD husband is not lazy.  It may be that they seem lazy because you have not found a way together to get him/her motivated to do what needs to be done.  That is not the fault of every ADD person.


Am I glad that I do not have ADD?  Yes I am.  Do I think that makes me better than a person who does have ADD?  No I don't.   I have my own issues to deal with that my ADD husband does not have to deal with, and I would guess there may be some issues he has that he prefers to mine.  Really what differences does it make if we are all working on our issues.  People who come here for help and suggestions should all be respected and treated well and not defensively based on our own issues.   


And on the topic of this thread:   My ADD-husband's bosses know he has ADD and it has never been an issue.  As a matter of fact when my husband made a careless mistake one time, his boss went to bat for him saying he has ADD and minimizes the result for the company for the most part and he shouldn't be penalized for making a mistake.  Other experiences are different I guess, but it has been fine for us.

blueroses4me's picture

better understanding...

is what we all are interested in when dealing with ADHD.  As I said in one of my previous posts, I too, have ADD, so I know all too well how this plays out in the ADHD mind. One thing though that I can say I honestly have tried to do since my diagnosis--which was over 15 years ago--is try to understand where the non-ADD'ers are with understanding my disability.  I have never  used the word, "non-ADD'er" just simply the friend or family member's name. I don't associate it with having or NOT having ADD. It is what it is.

I'm so glad to hear your husband's boss go to his defense.  That's awesome and I hope when my children are in the workforce, they experience the fruit of our labors!  They too, have ADHD and I want their road to success to be less bumpy than mine and my husband's.

With that said though, I believe you are right.  Respect for human beings comes because we are human beings.  Understanding any disability takes time and thorough investigation, but once looked at with patience and eyes wide open, I believe we can began to see the efforts we are making.  It's a struggle and believe me, but it's necessary.  However, just when I think ADHD is becoming more understood, something like this happens. (my husband's job) 

Carmen's picture

A psychiatrist with ADD

My husband is a psychiatrist with ADD and I think that this condition makes him 'more accurate' than others in this field. He knows an ADD mind, how it works! He feels more prepared than others to give advice because he knows the effects of this disorder well. He did not disclose his condition at first when he was a resident... but later he realized he should mention that to his boss and he was glad he did it.

I think that there is no shame in disclosing your condition with your boss. If there is harassment, the law WILL protect you. It is totally wrong to believe that because some people have some disability, they are unable to perform well at work! On the contrary, I believe that ADDers have qualities that will make them succeed and overpass others (Michael Phelps is one of them).

The law will favor your husband and everything will be just fine!! If someone is not hired because of having an ADD condition  this is discrimination.

Tell the Workplace?

Each workplace is different.  Each individual is different.  In general, it is NOT a good idea to tell a potential employer any more than you need to.  You want to put your absolute best foot forward during the hiring process in order to get hired.  This is why people spend so much time making resumes and applications "just right."  Telling them about ADHD is more information than they need.  If the ADHD has gotten in the way in past jobs this may well show up in your record without the reason.  If it hasn't, then the information is irrelevant.

Once you have been hired, then it makes sense to consider whether or not to inform an employer about your condition.  In the case of drug testing you might decide that it would be a better idea to find a medication for ADHD that would comply with your company's drug testing policies.  Since there are numerous medications that treat ADHD, you might find something else that works just fine.

My personal bias is towards creating structures that help you, as an ADHD person, perform at a level that pleases you and your company,  That can take time and effort, but is worth it.  Then whether or not you have ADHD is not an issue.

blueroses4me's picture


for your reply. I think that this is one of those times when new strategies to old company rules need to apply.  Since my husband was diagnosed in 1999, he has taken different meds.  Strattera, the non-amphetamine, was one he was on for a while. It was horrible. Our doctor said that only a few percent of his patients can take it. 

With the neurotransmitters, dopamine and epinephrine, being the chief problem--with him--stimulant meds work the best. While I understand the company "drug" policy, I think it's time for some modifications.  I teach Special Education and without modifications supported by IDEA (Individuals with Disability Act) and ADA, it would be extremely hard to be able to ensure my students are getting a free and appropriate education. 

I have ADD and have been an advocate for myself before marriage and kids.  I searched, dug, and scoured for any, ANY information to help me understand this strange "disorder." I am beginning to think that all the laws that protect us, and the information loaded through the internet, and elsewhere, is falling on deaf ears.

I have two children with ADHD (no surprise I guess since both parents have it!) Each child also has a "friend" that tags along with their ADHD, as we like to call them at our CHADD meetings. One has dyscalculia (math issues) and one has dyslexia.  I believe my husband also has dyslexia, although he has not been formally diagnosed. He told his employer this also when he was being fired and his boss said, "I ain't never heard of that."  This, THIS is the mentality of many.  The frustration with diagnosis has mounted since it's now a "family" disorder!  What I thought I did as a "good" advocate for myself doesn't even begin to compare with  what I am having to do for my children and now, my husband--although I hope this situation will help him advocate for himself more.  I want my children to grown up without falling through the cracks like I did and so many other adults I know.

It's amazing. When I first found out I had ADHD, Dr. Hallowell's books, Driven to Distraction and  Answers to Distraction, were the first of many books I've read on ADHD.  I thought, "wow, now people will get it--get ME--and understand why I do the baffling and annoying things that I do."  That was over 15 years ago and while there have been some strides made in understanding ADHD, when something like this happens, I feel like we are starting all over.

It's frightening and discouraging.

My guess is if you can safely tell your work, it will be better

My husband works for a mental health agency. He's a "peer specialist' which is an actual certification that he has. It means he has a mental illness and has it enough under control to be able to work. He qualifies for it because of ADD and depression. He works with those who are disabled by severe mental illness. I think it's meant to inspire them that the mentally ill can work (although none of the agency's clients do). He is very good at his job.

He was arrested for DWI because his hands shake as a side effect of one of his drugs. (That has since been mostly resolved.) The company has been very supportive (although he has already lost 4 precious vacation days because of court dates for this). If he is convicted, they will have to fire him because of insurance if nothing else. But they can't convict him because all that showed up in his system is Wellbutrin and that isn't on the state's list of impairing substances.

There are weird rules connected with the ADA. If the condition can be controlled by medication people don't fall under it. A diabetic pharmacist lost his job because Wal-Mart would not accommodate his need to eat lunch. Since insulin controls diabetes, he wasn't considered handicapped. But ADD meds don't totally control the condition, so I am not sure how that would apply. Have you gotten a lawyer?

I'm a driver with addhd too.

And though I told my work I still had a lot of shame and kept it as quiet as I could. But when I inevitably left someone else a mess in their truck or borrowed something and neglected to tell and forgot to put it back... well I just looked like an inconsiderate jerk. Recently I've stopped down playing the seriousness of my issues and leave notes for myself on virtually everything and let my fellow drivers know that I'm really not trying to put extra burden on them. Things have improved dramatically, there's a lot more understanding of slip ups and since I'm no longer putting the pressure to hide there seem to be fewer of those. A fellow driver said I seemed more scattered than before and to him I said I'm spending less energy on not "looking" crazy and more on following through on what matters. ... Of course this has led to being accused of caring more about my job than my family but hey, can't win them all.