Occupational health professionals are finding themselves having to advise management on issues relating to employees suffering from the condition called adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
This is not a condition many OH nurses will have come across in their careers, but with the advent of the Disability Discrimination Act, it has become one that employers are seeking advice about from OH. The two case studies are based on the experiences of two OH practitioners who have recently had to manage issues relating to individuals who have been diagnosed with the condition.
The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service (ADDISS) describes ADHD as a genetically determined condition affecting those parts of the brain that control attention, impulses and concentration. Although this condition would have been present from childhood, the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) say that the diagnosis of ADHD is applied to adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviours over a period of time. The key features of ADHD are:
- Distractibility or inattention
- Hyperactivity or overactive behaviour.
This means that sufferers can be talkative with difficulty in listening and concentrating, are forgetful, have poor organisational skills, and can be anxious and have relationship difficulties. However, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says that more research is needed to quantify the contribution of ADHD to psychiatric disorders in adulthood.
For occupational health nurses, the following two case studies show how this situation can be handled, both at the pre-employment stage and when ADHA comes to light in an existing employee. What must always be remembered is that the definition of a disability under the DDA is a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. 'Substantial' means neither minor nor trivial 'long term' means the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months, and 'normal day-to-day activities' include tasks such as eating, washing, walking and going shopping. A normal day-to-day activity must affect one of the 'capacities' listed in the Act which