School means seven classes with seven different teachers. Work means all day, five days a week, in a pressure-filled, deadline-oriented office. In either setting, there are assignments to juggle, time to manage, and priorities to organize. For someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, success in school or the workplace is a moving and elusive target.
"People with ADHD can't make it out the door on time. They have trouble finishing projects, problems with paperwork, and usually, a disaster of an office," says psychotherapist Terry Matlen, author of Survival Tips for Women with ADHD. "When you take the symptoms of ADHD and put them into a work or school setting, there's more than likely going to be a struggle."
Struggling at Work? If It's ADHD, There's Help
About 4 percent of adults and children are believed to have ADHD. They are forgetful and hyperactive, have trouble staying focused and paying attention, and understand or follow instructions with difficulty—all symptoms that can wreak havoc on educational and professional success. Up to a third of students with ADHD drop out of high school, and they're also less likely to attend and graduate from college.
It's no better in the workplace: Adults with ADHD lose an average of three weeks a year of productivity, according to the World Health Organization. They earn less than their coworkers, take more sick days, have more on-the-job accidents, and are more likely to be fired. They also don't get the support that students do. To succeed, they must take the lead by developing coping strategies themselves.