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Is ADHD Considered a Disability under ADA in America

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Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | August 3, 2021 (Last update: August 3, 2021)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the memory and concentration of an individual and creates trouble in staying organized. According to the available stats, 6.1% of American children require medications for ADHD while over 4% of American adults above 18 years deal with the disorder on daily basis. So, it is natural for one to wonder whether it is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or not! Let’s see!

What does the Americans with Disabilities Act Say about ADHD?

American with Disabilities Act includes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a recognized disability. But, a point worth noting here is that everybody diagnosed with ADHD is not a ‘qualified individual’ for demanding accommodations as per the law. In simple terms, if ADHD does not limit any major life activity then the person will be treated as non-disabled for all practical purposes.

A person is legally disabled with ADHD if her symptoms significantly interfere with her working potentials.

What are the Special Rights Available to a Person with ADHD?

Children with ADHD are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means the state and national law guarantees free and appropriate public education. The ‘qualified’ adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are given certain rights at workplaces so as to minimize the ill-effect of ADHD on their work performance and thus enhancing their professional growth quotient.

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Who Decides if ADHD is a Disability for an Individual?

It is obvious that a physician or psychologist will diagnose a person with ADHD. But, the diagnosis alone will not make a person legally disabled with ADHD. They must indicate that the individual’s symptoms are disabling i.e. they are severe enough to affect the individual’s normal daily activities.

What Legal Rights a Person Gets if Their Condition Qualifies as Disability?

If an organization employs 15 or more persons then it is bound by the law to improve access and create reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities including those with ADHD. Some state laws, like that of Pennsylvania, may have a lesser requirement.

What is a ‘reasonable’ accommodation for one organization may be expensive and burdensome for the other. In the case of ADHD, it is mostly about finding a mid-ground between the disabled employee and their employer. Suppose, the office noise makes it impossible for you to concentrate on your work but it is also not possible for your organization to provide you a separate cabin with a door, then you can negotiate for work from home.

Do You Have to Disclose Your Condition to Your Employer?

Disclosing or not disclosing your disability completely depends on you. No law mandates disclosing ADHD during the interview or even after joining a job. In fact, it is always advisable that you should not talk about ADHD unless you need accommodation.

If you require your employer to make some accommodations for you, then surely you need to talk about your symptoms and how it affects your work. If an employer is not informed, he or she has no obligations towards making the workplace more comfortable for someone disabled with ADHD. You cannot then claim to be a victim of disability discrimination.

What if the Employer Refuses to Make any Changes?

If an employee has disclosed her disabling symptoms of ADHD to the employer and asked for any reasonable accommodation the employer is bound by the law to make things easier for her (provided there are 15 or more employees). As an employee, the best option is to sit and calmly negotiate with the employer. If the employer is adamant about not providing you any relief the last option obviously is litigation.

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"Is ADHD Considered a Disability under ADA in America." Web. April 23, 2024. <>, "Is ADHD Considered a Disability under ADA in America." Accessed April 23, 2024.

"Is ADHD Considered a Disability under ADA in America." (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2024 from


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