NCC Conversations: Understanding ADD and ADHD
Over the last month, as part of our ongoing NCC Conversations series, we’ve been exploring the topic of neurodiversity. As part of our commitment to inclusion and diversity, we’ve been listening to the experiences and advice of experts and colleagues – from coping strategies for different conditions to understanding ADHD in the workplace.
Below, we dive into the lived experience of some of our colleagues, including Kurt Osburn, Timur Duehr, Charlana Tanner and Danielle Owen.
What are the benefits and challenges of having ADD or ADHD?
CT: “It’s definitely a mixed bag – the ADHD experience is varied across the board. Some people see it as a superpower and some people see it as the worst. I try to see it as a little bit of bad, a little bit of good, but mostly different.
“Benefit-wise, hyper focus is real and when you can channel it towards the right thing, it’s amazing. You can become an expert on a subject in a couple of hours – but on the flipside, you lose interest in things really quickly. There are lots of ups and downs with it, but I try to appreciate both sides for what they are.”
KO: “My challenge is definitely focus. The advantage is that I multi-task really well, because I can do six things at once – the problem is, am I going to finish all six things? Probably not. It means you have to spend extra time focusing on all your projects to figure out what the priority is, and how you want to do it. It’s a blessing and a curse, but I think understanding how it works for you is the key to getting through it.”
What are the effects of ADHD on women?
CT: “From my personal experience, there’s a stereotype that women are not as frequently diagnosed. The data isn’t really reliable in terms of whether there’s more occurrence of ADHD in one gender than another, but a lot of the data is really skewed because women are less likely to be diagnosed and this is because a lot of time, the symptoms seem to present differently in women. Because of that, women can have undiagnosed ADHD that can lead to anxiety and depression.”
DO: “Women are impacted because we’re held to stricter social norms. I’ve read that girls get diagnosed later because we learn how to mask our flaws, because of those social norms.
“Mine was make-up and an overly positive attitude – it just made me feel more comfortable. Naturally, girls have lower self-esteem because of that – even though others thought that I thrived, I always felt different. I get lost in my thoughts all the time, which was seen as shyness growing up.”
Can you give advice on how to work best with someone who has ADHD?
TD: “The short answer is talk to them – ask them what they need, because there’s no one thing. Common stuff is trying to limit sudden, loud sounds and trying to limit things that will cause an orientation reflex. But past that, it’s going to depend on the individual. Some people like additional sensory input, and some people prefer to work in the dark in a completely silent room. It really depends on the individual.”
KO: “In my office, when I try to focus or work, you can’t hear yourself think because I’m cranking up the stereo. I have to have music to focus. I’ve got some really good coworkers who understand that I get unfocused. I have a lot of help, and I think part of the problem is that some people don’t want to admit that they could use some help.
“It depends on the individual and situation – I could not survive without all the peers that I work with. They understand me, and I think that’s key – you have to be open to letting yourself be a little bit vulnerable, so that people understand what your strengths and weaknesses are and work together.”
Next month, NCC Conversations will be taking a well-deserved break while our Steering Committees work together to decide which key intersectional themes they’ll be covering from October. We’ll also be welcoming on board new executive sponsors as well as a brand new steering committee – stay tuned to find out more!