I write this with the disclaimer that full-time jobbers in need of workplace accommodations is not my niche. However, because I coach creative professionals with ADHD who often need to work a full-time job while they build their primary career, I do have experience with it, so I’ll weigh in on the ‘to tell or not to tell’ debate…

Labels are just that…labels. They do not define the whole of a person.  But when a cluster of neuropsychological traits requires specific accommodations in the workplace, a label comes in handy.  And ADHD is indeed covered under The Americans with Disabilities Act.

So theoretically, yes. You can disclose your diagnosis in order to receive reasonable workplace accommodations. There is a caveat, however: consciously or not, like it or not, there are negative biases towards people with invisible ‘disabilities.’ Visibly ‘disabled’ people can (and must, due to obvious necessity) be more transparent in order to get accommodations. Unfortunately, doing so for an invisible ‘disability’ like ADHD comes with a degree of risk.

This is why I coach clients to use their differently-abled acumen to get the job first without disclosing the diagnosis. Next, I advise them to keep in mind that there is an invisible probationary period inherent in all employment. During my Career Services Specialty training for differently-abled people, we were told that this period lasts about three months. If you can hang in for three months despite the challenges you’d like eased a bit; at that point, I would regard it as safe to talk to HR about accommodations. 

Before that, or even afterward if you still feel uncomfortable disclosing your diagnosis, you may be able to get those challenges addressed diplomatically without labeling yourself by subtly addressing your need as being in their favor. For example, if you have difficulty with solo task initiation because you’ve discovered through coaching that you’re a verbal processor who needs to talk your ideas out loud, you might say: ‘I think this could get done more expeditiously as a collaborative effort. Is there someone I can join forces with?’ 

Here is an article that further explores how to get the help you need without revealing your diagnosis if you prefer not to.