Being your own advocate means finding the resources that are out there to support you. Sound too arduous? Consider the following strategies for getting accommodations, and more.
If you will soon be starting a new job or just got accepted to a university, contact the disability services or human resources office well in advance of your start date. Getting accommodations is multifaceted. It will include researching your school or employer’s particular process, completing forms, gathering documentation from your ADHD professional(s), and arranging and attending appointments.
Be curious and find allies.
If you are not sure what or whom to ask, try a specialist, or human resources professional. Part of their expertise is in helping people like you to understand what accommodations are available for your situation. One size does not fit all!
Identify and use your processing style(s).
Most people use a combination of learning styles. Kinesthetic: need to move? Conceptual: understand the bigger picture first? Verbal: prefer to talk out your thoughts first? Ask yourself: What environment works best for me – a private office, a noisy café, a library, home? When am I most alert in order to accomplish my toughest work or studying? Try to arrange your schedule accordingly. If you take medication, take action during the time of day your medication is still active.
Learn to articulate your needs.
Practice by talking to a friend, coach or therapist about your ideal work/study environment, challenges you have when trying to absorb and retain information, and strategies that might have helped you in the past.
Focus on one step at a time in the accommodations process. Hyper-focus happens when you feel captivated by something. To prevent frustration or boredom with the process, find a healthy way to reward yourself with something fun or easy for you BEFORE each step. You will gain momentum to attack the tough stuff!
Take a breath to keep going.
When you feel overwhelmed, take a 1-2 minute break to focus on your breath so you can keep at it. Once you have the experience of setting things up for yourself for maximum effectiveness, your day-to-day will run much smoother, and the next time will be easier.
Reasonable accommodations are your right under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Don’t let limiting beliefs that you are “too needy,” “too much,” or “not enough” create shame or fear. Imagine that you’re advocating for someone else, or that you already completed the process and are in a place of success. Follow your inner leader! As social psychologist Amy Cuddy says, “Fake it until you become it.”
Ariel Davis, ADHD Coach/Occupational Therapy Master’s Candidate, uses her experience with dual-diagnosed teens/adults and the creative arts to discover and build client strengths. www.ADHDstrengthscoach.com ADHDstrengthscoach@gmail.com.