Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on
October 4, 2021
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on:

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder. ADHD is commonly diagnosed in children. It is also seen in adults. It is a common misconception that ADHD is just a childhood disorder and often people don’t realize they have it as an adult.

In this blog post, we will answer one of the most common questions we get, “is ADHD a disability?”—we’ll look into it through different perspectives, such as jobs, schools, relationships, and life in general.

We will also discover how to properly diagnose and manage the condition, so you or your loved one can live an easier life even with ADHD!

What exactly is ADHD? 

ADHD is a chronic neuropsychiatric condition that’s classified by:

  • Problems focusing.
  • Problems holding attention.
  • Impulsivity or hyperactivity.
  • Behavior issues related to hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has three types. The types are inattentiveness, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or a mix of both. The DSM-5 is a book where doctors explain what ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is. It says that if you have ADHD, it means you don’t pay attention and are too hyperactive.

ADHD is one of the most common developmental disorders in children. It affects the brain and how it develops according to the CDC. Along with autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, others. ADHD is also considered a developmental disability.

An ADHD diagnosis is generally noticed first between ages six to twelve years old (although it may not be until adulthood). Some people have difficulty paying attention to details. They might not stay still for long, stop talking in the middle of a conversation to switch topics, or make careless mistakes.

ADHD is the most commonly studied and diagnosed mental disorder in children. Symptoms of ADHD tend to be less noticed by adults, but they are still present. ADHD is seen in people of all ages, but it is most often seen in children. It can affect up to eight percent of children and three to five percent of adults.

Three Types of ADHD

There are three types of attention deficit disorder symptoms: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined.

Inattentive ADHD 

Inattentive ADHD is a form of ADHD that is characterized by the lack of attention and concentration. The person is constantly distracted and is unable to focus on a particular task. People with this type of ADHD may not seem different from other people. But it is often hard for them to participate in class or have conversations. They may often seem lazy or unfocused.

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

People with this type often have problems staying still and enjoy moving around. They talk a lot and are impulsive in their movements. Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD is associated with a high rate of accidents and injuries.

Combined ADHD

Combined ADHD is when a person has both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD. Many children with combined ADHD also have learning disabilities. These disabilities may include dyslexia, language disorder, or dysgraphia, among others.

Is ADHD a disability?

The American Psychiatric Association recognizes ADHD as a disability. This means that people with this diagnosis are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. This act keeps people with disabilities from being discriminated against in the workplace and in society. But this is under strict stipulations.

ADHD is a qualified disability if it is bad enough to affect a person’s ability to function in the work or public sector. Individuals with ADHD are unlikely to get benefits from both the federal and state governments if their condition is not severe.

There is a lot of controversy over whether ADHD is considered a disability. The DSM-V does not consider ADHD as a learning disorder or mental illness. Some professionals believe that ADHD is a form of brain damage. But it is not always true. Those with low IQs and people who have experienced trauma are more likely to suffer from this type of brain damage.

Even still, there is no concrete definition as to what constitutes a learning disability or mental illness. This is because it can be diagnosed by multiple doctors, each having their own ideas about the criteria needed for such an ailment.

Generally, it is believed that ADHD is not a disability at all. There is still much to be discovered about this subject and plenty of time for the medical community to come up with an answer.

In the meantime, those who suffer from this condition can manage it with medication and therapy. Treatment can help people who have been diagnosed with this disorder. They will be able to live better lives when their symptoms are managed. The benefits of treatment include being able to concentrate and focus better, both in school and at work.

Overall, it is up to each individual whether or not they feel that ADHD is a disability for them. While some may see obstacles as challenges and overcome them with ease. Others will struggle greatly with these same tasks because of their condition. There is no denying the fact that those with ADHD can live happy and productive lives if they receive the right kind of treatment.

Is ADHD a disability when applying for a job?

When you’re applying for a job, you don’t have to disclose that you have ADHD. On the other hand, if your ADHD symptoms are interfering with your job performance, don’t wait too long. You don’t want to risk losing your job or not getting it in the first place.

If you’ve been diagnosed, tie the benefits to your situation: are you creative, a dreamer with a lot of energy? Can you stay focused on something for an extended period of time? Talk about the talents you have that could help the company or aid in the achievement of its objectives.

You do not have to disclose your ADHD diagnosis to your job. But if your symptoms are getting in the way of your work you may need to ask your boss to accommodate you. You can also ask them to help you change your work situation so that it is more suitable for how ADHD affects you. For example, if you need to have quiet, ask for an office that is away from the hustle and bustle of your colleagues.

The ADA implies that you are entitled to assistance as long as you can perform the “essential tasks” of the job. If you haven’t spoken with your boss yet and believe he or she is kind and wants to help, this is the place to start.

If you’ve exhausted all possibilities, or if your employer is being difficult, you may need to contact a workplace advocate or an attorney. This is unquestionably the route to take if your employer claims your request is unreasonable.

Is ADHD a disability for a child?

ADHD may be diagnosed in children who have behavior that is unusual for their age and severity of symptoms exceeds what is expected for their age. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, he or she might be able to get Supplemental Security Income benefits.

You can get these if the Social Security Administration says that your child’s ADHD is severe enough to qualify for it. This isn’t something that comes easily to most people. The majority of people with ADHD don’t get help from the government because they only consider people who have very severe issues to be eligible.

Is ADHD a disability in school?

United States federal law protects students from discrimination of disabilities. Specifically section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Even if a student does well in school they are protected under section 504 if they have certain difficulties because of ADHD.

These difficulties may include trouble concentrating, reading, thinking, organizing or prioritizing projects. According to section 504, a student with ADHD may also be able to get special education or other services from their school district.

If your child’s school district believes that your child needs an evaluation, then they must evaluate the student at no cost to you. You may also ask your child’s school district to evaluate your child if you suspect they have ADHD. The district must either conduct the evaluation, or explain why they are refusing to do so. You may dispute their decision under section 504.

Federal law does not allow you to consider the good results of mitigating measures when deciding if a student has a disability. The school district can’t use your daughter’s ADHD medication when making this determination.

If you go to school, you can get help if you have a disability. If you go to school, the law says that your disability will be treated like it doesn’t exist. You can get free education and services in school to help with any problem that might come up.

The need for special education services varies from student to student with ADHD. School districts cannot give the same aid and services to all kids with ADHD. Each student’s requirements might be unique. Section 504 requires schools to accommodate those particular learning needs.

Is ADHD considered a learning disability?

ADHD is not considered to be a learning disability. But it can make someone eligible for special education services. It falls under “Other Health Impaired” rather than “Specific Learning Disabilities.” If their ADHD affects something like learning, they may qualify for accommodations like ADA and Section 504.

People with ADHD are more likely to have other conditions too. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of children with ADHD have a specific learning disability as well. These include Tourette’s Syndrome, which is less common in people with ADHD. They may also have other conditions. These include obstinate behavior disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety or sadness, and bipolar disease.

Is ADHD considered special needs?

ADHD is not a classified area of special needs. Someone can have a problem that affects their learning due to hyperactivity and attention (ADHD). Without hyperactivity, they may have an attention difficulty. This would fall under the category of Other Health Impaired (OHI).

This is a condition that qualifies a student for special education services. It helps if a doctor says the child has a learning issue caused by hyperactivity or poor attention span but not both. All you need is a doctor’s note to get OHI. The doctor usually looks at several forms of student teacher comments where the instructor claims it’s an issue. You are OHI once a physician certifies this.

Is it a bad thing to have ADD/ADHD as an adult?

Adult ADHD can lead to issues with your relationships, job or school performance. Without treatment, it is difficult to cope with the effects of ADHD. To help adults manage their symptoms and improve functioning in everyday life, proper care is needed.

Treatment is most effective when a patient has both medication and therapy, as well as the support of those around them. It is important to find a health care provider with whom you feel comfortable sharing your personal information. You can then work together to create an individualized treatment program that is best for you.

Managing ADHD is not always easy, but it is possible with the right treatment program. Because of this reason, many adults with ADHD are open to learning more about treatment options.

There is no single medication that is the answer for every adult with ADHD, so finding what is right is a process. There is also no cure for ADHD, so treatment is always ongoing. Medication needs may change over time and with the different stages in life.

Can Someone Receive Disability Benefits for ADHD?

In order to qualify for disability benefits with ADHD, you have to prove that it is a disability. You must prove that your ADHD is not only limiting but also long-term.

The Social Security Administration has rules about what is an acceptable condition or disorder. The SSA looks at how much difficulty adults with ADHD face on a daily basis when determining their eligibility status.

It’s easier if the person who receives assistance is under the age of 18. If you’re over 18, there is no guarantee you will get benefits. You must show significant restrictions in everyday life due to your ADHD.

Receiving Benefits for a Child With ADHD

Social security disability benefits help is available for children under the age of 18 who have a qualifying condition. In children, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a more stringent definition of disability. Your child must have a physical or mental ailment that severely restricts their activities. It must have persisted or be expected to persist for at least one year or lead to death.

ADHD must be found to be “severe” in the child. The symptoms must impact their functioning at school, social activities and home life. They must have one of the subtypes of ADHD to qualify for benefits. You will need to document how your child is ADHD impaired.

You should include medical evidence and psychological test results suggesting your child’s abnormality. Standardized tests are normally preferred to other proof. They are not always accessible for every set of symptoms or for every age.

Your child may be eligible for social security disability benefits if your family’s income is low enough to qualify. The severity of ADHD must match the SSA disability listing, 112.11.

Managing ADHD

Here are some tips on how to manage ADHD:

  • Exercise is great for your brain, so get outside and have fun!
  • Change your diet.
  • Nutritional supplements.
  • Get into a routine. It is easier to focus when you know what is coming next.
  • Take all the time you need to work through an assignment. What is missing? Are you struggling with this? Do you need more time? Seek out help.
  • Create boundaries between work and play spaces. Put your school work somewhere where it is less distracting to do. Find a place where you can play without distractions or worries about homework or chores.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • If you need help, ask for it!
  • When your medications aren’t working as well as they could, talk with your doctor about adjusting the dosage.
  • Your best is all you can do. Don’t beat yourself up over it! Your ADHD is not your fault.

If you are struggling with any or all of these, ask for help! There is no shame in needing a little guidance. In fact, it is often necessary to get support from others.

Diagnosing ADHD

ADHD symptoms can mimic other developmental disabilities. It is important to understand that ADHD is not a differentiation or a diagnosis. It is a symptom that is equally prevalent in males and females. ADHD is diagnosed in different ways. Professional medical advice is the only way to diagnose ADHD.

Some doctors will interview and speak to you and ask you questions. Some will try to find out from your relatives or from genetic tests what they think is wrong with your brain. ADHD is a condition that is mild in most cases with a wide range of severity from mild to moderate or from moderate to severe.

The distinction between ADHD and its many subtypes is crucial to grasp. There are several distinct types of ADHD. When compared to other mental health issues, ADHD is mild, making treatments very successful. Other mental illnesses are more disabling, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Professional medical advice is the best way to address severe ADHD symptoms. This is when drugs are used. Drugs are not the only treatments used. There are alternative treatments like counseling sessions or therapy groups.

Diagnosing ADHD is possible. There are different approaches such as observations, interviews, questionnaires or through genetic testing. Treatment is not always necessary for most adults with ADHD. It’s possible for adults to learn how to manage their symptoms. They can do this by:

  • Monitoring themselves
  • Changing their lifestyle
  • Avoiding high-risk situations.

Treating ADHD

There is no cure for ADHD, so treatment is always ongoing. Medication needs may change over time and with the different stages of life. Medication is one treatment option for ADHD. Stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin is the most common class of drugs used to treat ADHD and is usually prescribed for children and adults.

Behavioral modification is another treatment option for ADHD. The goal of behavioral therapy is to help the person with mental or emotional problems. It can also help parents and children with ADHD. This type of therapy can help them have better social skills, self-esteem, and academic performance.

Therapy is also another option for treatment of ADHD. There is a wide range of therapies that can be used to treat ADHD such as family therapy, group therapy and individual therapy. Music therapy is also an option.

ADHD is a type of neurodevelopmental disorder that affects around 7% of children overall. Boys are more likely to suffer from it than girls. Many people are unaware that there are various types of ADHD, but the condition itself is not as severe as other mental health issues.

Concluding Thoughts

Each individual is different in his own way. ADHD is a condition that may affect your daily life. It is important to know what it is and how it can be treated. Managing your ADHD is possible in most cases with the right treatment program that is designed for you.

Start by getting more information on our website today. Our medical staff is ready and waiting to answer any questions you have about ADHD. You can start by answering the ADHD quiz here!

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