I have been asked numerous times whether I believe people should disclose the information that they have Attention Deficit Disorder. My standard answer is usually not satisfying to the seeker. I say, ďIt depends.Ē What does it depend on? Will your disclosure gain something for you? Is there anything that you could lose?
In situations where I need to make an important decision, I use a strategy that I learned in graduate school at the University of Kansas. The name of this strategy is SOCS. The initials stand for Situation-Options-Consequences-Solutions. Following the SOCS strategy gives me a useful framework to organize my thoughts.
The situation here is clear. Should I disclose my ADD to the people that I work with? Next I need to think of all of the options that are available to me. This means at least three options. Fewer than that and you arenít really thinking too hard. Then, for each option, I need to come up with three or four possible consequences. They can be positive or negative consequences. Yes, believe it or not, there are positive consequences. Also, there may be overlap between the consequences for several options. Finally, after reviewing the situation, options, and consequences, I need to decide on a solution. Often the solution draws from more than one option. Here is what a SOCS scenario looks like:
Situation-Should I disclose my ADD to the people that I work with?
Option 1-Donít disclose my ADD.
Consequence 1- My boss might not understand me when I go into sensory overload.
Consequence 2- People will just see my ADD as an eccentricity.
Consequence 3- If people find out they might feel that I am being dishonest by not saying anything.
Consequence 4-Some of my actions may seem strange to people.
Option 2-Disclose my ADD to my boss.
Consequence 1- He might wonder why I am telling him.
Consequence 2- He might think that I am trying to get special treatment.
Consequence 3- He could appreciate my honesty, if I choose a natural time to tell him.
Consequence 4- He might ask what support that I need.
Option 3-Disclose my ADD to all of my colleagues.
Consequence 1- They might think that it is too much information.
Consequence 2- Some people might be uncomfortable with my announcement.
Consequence 3- It might help them understand me and my actions better.
Consequence 4- Some people might look for ways to make fun of me.
Option 4-Disclose my ADD to some of my colleagues if a moment seems natural.
Consequence 1- If I choose a good time to tell people that I get along with, telling them wonít seem strange.
Consequence 2- People who know can tell other people, when the time is right.
Consequence 3- People are more likely to give me a heads-up if I need to do a task differently.
Consequence 4-I am more likely to get my needs met if people know that my Attention Deficit Disorder might cause me to do tasks a bit differently from others in my position.
Solution-While I am good at my job, my ADD causes me to do things a bit differently. My solutions to work tasks are often creative and sometimes seem odd, but they work really well. People notice this. If I tell a few people about my ADD when I know them well, they will let other people know in a natural way. That way, the Attention Deficit Disorder will just be considered a part of who I am, like my brown eyes or the gray streak in my hair.
Whether you disclose your Attention Deficit Disorder in the workplace or in other settings is a decision that you should carefully consider. As the BellaOnline Attention Deficit Disorder Editor, everybody knows that I have ADD! It wasnít always that way. In some settings, I have told people, and in others I have not. It generally depends on how well I get along with people in that setting and whether they will understand my ADD. I donít consider my ADD a hindrance. It is not something that I am uncomfortable with. However, I do know that some people donít understand it.
To tell or not to tell? Ultimately, the choice is yours. The SOCS decision making tool can help you make an informed and considered choice.