ADHD is an extremely common disorder in the United States, affecting millions of children, adolescents, and adults. But many people still don’t understand what this disorder is or what legal protections have been put into place for people who have it. Because its symptoms can impair a person’s performance in school or at work, one frequent question is, “Is ADHD a disability?”
What Is ADHD?
ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that, as the name suggests, is characterized by an impaired ability to focus, concentrate, and control certain behaviors (such as restlessness, talkativeness, and impulsivity)
ADHD is typically diagnosed in children and adolescents, but the disorder is by no means limited to people under the age of 18. In some cases, young people who have the disorder carry their symptoms in to adulthood. In other cases, people do not receive an ADHD diagnosis until they have become adults.
Common signs and symptoms of ADHD include:
- Making careless mistakes
- Difficulty maintaining attention during lectures or meetings
- Appearing to be distracted, even when being spoken to directly
- Failing to follow instructions and complete projects
- Frequently losing keys, wallet, cell phone, or other important items
- Poor organizational and time management skills
- Forgetting to pay bills, return calls, and complete other common tasks
- Habitually interrupting others, intruding on conversations, or blurting out answers
- Distress when required to be still for an extended period (such as during a class, in a meeting, or when dining)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes three categories of ADHD: mild, moderate, and severe. These categories are determined by the number of symptoms that a person experiences, the intensity of these symptoms, and the degree of distress or functional impairment that the individual experiences as a result of their ADHD symptoms.
How Many People Have ADHD?
Data collected by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), indicates that ADHD affects about 4.4% of the adult population in the United States. The 2020 U.S. census counted 258.3 million Americans aged 18 and older. This means that more than 11.3 million adults in the U.S. are currently living with symptoms of ADHD.
Among both adolescents and adults, males are more likely than females to be diagnosed with ADHD. The NIMH reports that the lifetime prevalence of ADHD is 13% among adolescent boys and 4.2% among adolescent girls. Within the adult demographic, 5.4% of men and 3.2% of women have this disorder.
Is ADHD a Disability?
OK, now that we have discussed what ADHD looks and feels like, and we have established how many people have this disorder, let’s turn our attention to the question that we posed in the title of this post: Is ADHD a disability?
Though that is a simple, four-word question, the response is a bit more complex. This is because the word “disability” can mean different things in different settings. For now, we are going to focus on two common areas where ADHD symptoms can affect a person’s progress: in the classroom and on the job.
Is ADHD a Learning Disability?
According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), ADHD is not considered to be a learning disability. However, this doesn’t mean that students who have ADHD cannot receive certain accommodations in the classroom.
The LDA reports that ADHD falls under the “Other Health Impaired” category of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This means that, depending on the severity of a student’s impairment due to ADHD, they may qualify for special education services.
Also, the LDA notes that 30%-50% of young people who have ADHD have a co-occurring learning disability (such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, specific reading comprehension deficit, or non-verbal learning disability), which may make them eligible for special education support.
Is ADHD a Disability in the Workplace?
As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the answer to the question, “Is ADHD a disability?” is yes.
The ADA is designed to ensure that people who have disabilities have access to employment opportunities, government programs, public transit, businesses, and many other aspects of modern life in the United States.
In terms of employment, the law states that organizations with a minimum of 15 employees cannot discriminate on the basis of disability “in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.”
After the ADA was passed into law in 1990, significant uncertainty remained regarding what types of disorders were covered by this landmark legislation. To clarify matters – and to prevent court rulings from limiting access to protection under the ADA – Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. This act confirmed that mental health disorders such as ADHD are considered to be protected disabilities.
Begin ADHD Treatment in Atlanta, GA
If you have been struggling with the symptoms of ADHD, Peachtree Wellness Solutions may be the ideal place for you. Our center is a trusted source of treatment for adults in the Atlanta, Georgia, area whose lives have been disrupted by ADHD and other mental health concerns.
We offer personalized care at three levels: residential treatment, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), and an intensive outpatient program (IOP). At every level, you can expect to receive superior services from a team of skilled and dedicated professionals. With our help, you can take greater control of your behaviors, so that you can live a healthier and more satisfying life. To learn more about our programming options, or to schedule a free assessment, please either visit our admissions page or call us today.