Just diagnosed with ADHD — is it wise to seek accommodation?

I was very recently diagnosed with ADHD and am in the process of getting medication, so I am still managing on my own. I've been struggling passing technical interviews because I have a difficult time focusing and grokking when I study, and my recall is pretty bad.

I'm especially bad with live coding interviews, because once you combine performance anxiety with the recall difficulties... forget about it. 😅

My last coding interview went terribly and I cried afterward. I'm smart, I'm really good with tech and computers, but failing over and over makes me feel like a stupid loser.

I graduated bootcamp in May 2021 and it's been 8 months of this. I study and build projects, but the recall thing is killing me.

So, should I mention my disability and seek accommodation that might better enable me to succeed (like a take-home with a bit more time), or is that a terrible idea because I'll be dismissed outright for needing it?

You ladies have great insight and I'd love your thoughts! Thank you. ☺️🙏🏻

iynna's profile thumbnail
Awe thank you so much for posting! I did some research here and it seems like there is no clear answer :( which I guess is why you even asked in the first place! But I did see this https://www.themuse.com/advice/disability-accommodations-during-job-search if it can get you a head start as you get more answers from the community! Also you didn't ask for this specifically but in case it helps you down the line feel free to bookmark this page too https://elpha.com/posts/hxbuayvk/recently-came-to-terms-with-having-adhd-what-resources-are-out-thereAnd previously @XeniaA really kindly offered to chat with anyone who has been diagnosed as she has managed to live w/ it very well!
ellenmalfliet's profile thumbnail
It cannot hurt to try and ask for accommodations. After all, if they reject you based on needing them that just means the company wasn't a fit to begin with. Even if you don't get the job, you'll get a sense of success in completing the test which may mitigate your performance anxiety. Good luck!
laurensmithLLAP's profile thumbnail
I agree with Ellen. It sounds to me like you already know what accommodation would make this more doable for you, and it sounds very reasonable to me. If they aren’t willing to accommodate, they aren’t people you’d want to work for anyway. I know (from personal experience) how scary asking for accommodations can be, especially for something as misunderstood as ADHD (which I also have) and particularly as someone newly diagnosed. But try to be gentle with yourself, and remember you deserve to be able to do your job well and work for people who want you to succeed.
Fia's profile thumbnail
Hi, personally as a neurodivergent in tech I would ask for accommodations. 1st, it allows me to get what I need and see whether they are truly an inclusive organisation. I will not work for an organisation who is not inclusive and supportive of my needs as recipe for disaster. My decisions are based on what I see during the interview process and questions I may ask if I speak to others (employees) from the organisation, whether I seek out or request from the organisation.I see my neurodivergent qualities as a part of me as a strength - what some see as a disdvantage but there is a strength to counter it. All the best.
raebroome's profile thumbnail
Where do you live? I have great anxiety about interviews as well. My current company is in a dozen cities. Who knows, maybe you are in one of them? I know we hire people from boot camps. The hiring process is more about aligning what you want with the needs of the company. Who you are as a human matters more than what your tech skills are in an interview. If you’re the right person, the skills are trained and learned. Please feel free to dm me where you live. If it’s a fit, I’ll explain more to you about my company. Best of luck!
Generally speaking, technical coding challenges are difficult for everyone, so I wouldn’t let a few bad experiences make you feel like you won’t be successful.My understanding is that an adhd diagnosis does not actually constitute a disability (at least in the states), so there’s no rule mandating that employers would have to make accommodations.Since engineering demands such high mental output, I get the feeling that most companies would frown upon asking for an extension on a tech screen or to be able to do it as a take home challenge when others are expected to do it live. Instead of asking employers to make accommodations, as an alternative, perhaps you could prioritize addressing your adhd with medication? My personal experience is that I was able to get medication pretty much immediately after my diagnosis. With that being said, I no longer take anything for my adhd. Wfh has been amazing for me and allowed me to be successful without having to rely on a prescription.
laurensmithLLAP's profile thumbnail
A note here — ADHD is absolutely a recognized disability per the ADA and definitely qualifies you for accommodations if it is impacting your ability to do your job (or interview) and reasonable accommodations will allow you to successfully perform job duties (or interview).Sources: my therapist, my own adhd diagnosis, my background in HR, and the internet.
I have ADHD and recently found out I have Asperger's too. I was up for Principle PM at my previous company, and now I'm starting my own company. So don't feel like things are lost for you. Focus on prep and nailing your interviews, and then once you're on the job, you'll be fine.I found my ADHD to be an asset, and it helped me see things others did not and pivot faster, in my opinion. You DON'T need to report it unless YOU want to or see it as a disability and seek accommodations, though you may want to get outside help to learn coping mechanisms and strategies if you feel it is holding you back.What I have found most helpful is getting personally invested in the problem. The more interested and excited I am, the less of a struggle it is to stay focused.Another thing I do is only work in Agile teams (Agile Methodologies) - if I were an engineer, this would be even more critical to me, because then you can take up lots of small broken down pieces of work, and it gives you flexibility and the ability to jump back and forth on the problem that excites you and work incrementally. Also, it gives you daily goals, something I find critical to having ADHD - one big goal will usually have me procrastinating to the last minute then killing myself.Personally, in the tech industry, I feel being neuro-atypical is more common than in any other industry. And in fact, in the valley, there are many - Peter Thiel among them - who see being neuro-atypical as an advantage, not a disability. That's becoming more and more of a common perception. You still don't need to market your ADHD in the interview because of stigmas, but once you get your job, focus on the ways you are different and the advantage that brings to the table, and your career will accelerate quickly. Take time to learn the strategies that make you work more successfully and integrate them into your work style. If you haven't thought about it yet, you can seek outside advice on coping mechanisms (I know people who this helped), but personally I always found it better to figure these things out on my own, because even among us with ADHD our strategies are different.This may seem annoying because most people don't have to think about it, and it may be tempting to just take accommodations instead, but I promise you, taking the hard path is almost always worth it. You're different, and I owned my difference and used it as a tool. I didn't victimize myself and see it as a disadvantage because that would have set me up to have a career as a victim not a thought leader. In the meantime, I would just do as much prep and studying as you can on how to nail your interview. That's what's important right now. Do strategies, do practice interviews and time and test yourself to try to give yourself the confidence to nail it in the real one. You can even research the companies you're interviewing at and the position and sometimes find example questions online to help you prep for that particular company's style, too.One thing you should ALWAYS remember is that it's a person interviewing you, too. I have interviewed many people, and sometimes they impress me in ways that are outside of the questions I asked. That sort of connection got them more lee-way with mistakes in the questions because I would think to myself "this person is worth the up-training". Try to make a personal connection with your interviewers - they are just people, and you'd be surprised how far this goes.Personally, with engineers, skills like having good communication ability - if that came through - I'd make a personal case for them a lot of times, because as a PM that's as important as coding ability for some engineering roles where the engineer needs to work with the business or help me get to a conclusion on a story. Realizing your interviewer is a person and putting less "awe" around them, and recognizing your strengths and realizing the job market is competitive and THEY would be lucky to snag YOU when you could be going to x, y, or z company can help with the anxiety. Also, keep in mind, it should be a two-way interview process. You want to make sure you want to work with whoever this person is and evaluate them.The candidate has ALL the power in the interview. Keep that in mind, and it may help your anxiety.Also, maybe try to see how some of your non-engineering strengths come through. Make a personal connection with your interviewer, too. It may help you.I hope this all helped and wasn't too preachy.Putting this in anonymous because I am selective about who knows I'm neuro-atypical, (though anyone who works with me knows 😂).Side Note: I don't take medication for my ADHD - I found this harmed me more than did good and didn't let me express my strengths that the ADHD gives me, and it gives me a lot of strengths. I stopped wanting to be the same and think "normally" and instead learned to harness the power of my difference.Personally, though, I won't give advice to you on this, as it is a personal process/decision. Everyone has a threshold and different level of risk. For me: Things like turmeric and Ancestral Supplements Fish Eggs are what I do to help my brain as well as a balanced diet. The adderall made me a zombie and took away my "superpowers" that made me unique to every other person in tech.
jessicap's profile thumbnail
My partner is on the ASD spectrum and adhd - his neurodiversity is what makes him so talented. He comes up with approaches that my neurotypical data scientist self totally either doesn’t see or overlooks. He describes similar strategies and also encourages therapy specific to CBT or specific to adults on the ASD spectrum. He personally uses a long release medication, but he mentions that every body is different and often men have very different reactions to adhd meds than women - he gently chastises me for historically (before us getting together) abusing adhd drugs for performance when I was NOT rx’d them. Love this message and I think it will help me continue to support my partner and the folks I work with in new ways.
dhernz's profile thumbnail
Thanks for posting this!! I was diagnosed past month as well. I am doing daily psychological therapy and has helped significantly . Knowing that I have ADHD helps understand why some things are harder for me. That being said for you and me interviews and structure test will always be a challenge. This means that we have to practice more than average. My advice will be to seek therapy - (betterhelp.com is an affordable option) to understand what are your anxiety triggers and how to prevent them.Best of luck!
I know reddit often has a bad rap, but the r/ADHD community is quite helpful there.
laurensmithLLAP's profile thumbnail
Highly recommend r/adhdwomen!
paigelowe's profile thumbnail
Other people have had great answers, so I won't retread what they said.I'm currently at a smallish startup, and if we got the request, we wouldn't have structures in place for accomodations, but we also would be able to deal with it on a person by person basis because we're small enough and have few enough interviews a week to do that. Some small companies might decide they don't have the bandwidth to adapt, and, like other people said, that's useful information too.The one other thing is that in recent years, some companies have pivoted away from whiteboard interviews. Partially because of things like this (also stereotype threat and a few other muddying factors), so it's worth googling companies that don't use whiteboard interviews--I think Slack is known for having a different setup. I used to have a list of companies, but I'm currently on mobile and don't have the link.
MorganLucas's profile thumbnail
If you choose to seek accommodations, I subscribe to an ADHD newsletter (It helps for those of us with depression who skew toward these tendencies too) on misconceptions you may be able to attack and correct;https://adultingadhd.substack.com/p/debunking-the-myths-of-adhd?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjoyMzU2ODUxLCJwb3N0X2lkIjo0NjgwODk1MSwiXyI6ImFnTXN3IiwiaWF0IjoxNjQxNjYzMjUxLCJleHAiOjE2NDE2NjY4NTEsImlzcyI6InB1Yi00MjY0OSIsInN1YiI6InBvc3QtcmVhY3Rpb24ifQ.opzkn_jrvYoRcJJM-E8oyusWrKQg_MzUSwfT85q2cJo
AmandaWangValentine's profile thumbnail
Hi, impressive you've come this far without a diagnosis. However I don't have the accompanying anxiety...As u r just starting out, & they don't have a good gauge of ur capabilities, before u ask mention that you saw that a company value is that they're an inclusive employer & ask them for examples of this & then pivot into your diagnosis & that you would welcome the opportunity to be tested etc. & believe you would excel. It's hard to change people's minds immediately with facts. ADHD has a bad rap & unless people have seen it a lot first hand, then there's not a lot of understanding.Until you get the med mix right is to try & note down the times/task where you are in the zone b/c it's about marrying that and the job needs. One thing that is a natural stimulant is caffeine. For people w ADHD, it acts the opposite and slows down your brain. Note the amount/time to when you feel focused. There's an app called brain.fm that's really helpful. It's based on research & puts you into (I think) gamma brain state for focus. There's other choices too on there for creativity, calm etc.Going on stimulants changed my career in a good way. I believe that neurodivergence is a gift in a work place that empowers it. I wasn't on them in school & university & was often kicked out of class for being disruptive...I did excel at the things I was interested in. ADHD enabled me to try get to the place I am today - changed career many times, countries, etc...I am also 53 and am in a different place in my career where people look at my experience. So that's the upside.
JocelynJane's profile thumbnail
You can certainly request accommodations. It isn’t clear what those accommodations may (need to) be based on what you’ve shared. I suggest reaching out to recruiting (not the hiring manager) and share the pertinent information. They are required to keep that confidential. I was job hunting while breast feeding and had to pump. Employers (even ones without mother’s rooms) were more than accommodating once I was clear what I needed in terms of space. If someone turns their nose up at you for requesting reasonable accommodations, would you really want to work there? What would it be like to work there every single day?
Totally fine to ask for accommodations - but from my experience (ADHD) - don't say it's ADHD. People don't understand it, it still has alot of stereotypes around it and they will just think (consciously or unconsciously) you are high-risk, going to always be late & distracted. Say it's high-functioning Autism (they have similar issues and are on the same spectrum) as people seem to have better connotations with that (genius/prodigy) and that you just need a little longer to absorb information due to neurodiversity. Take-home assign seems reasonable. I know people are going to be like 'you shouldn't have to do that, people are more open now', but I'm just telling you the truth. Just get through the interviews and prove it to them once on the job. Just as you are newly diagnosed, thought I'd share - even the wording around ADHD is totally off. You aren't deficient in attention per se, you are only deficient in the chemical that regulates it. So you are either picking up everything (which is why you are great in fast-paced environments or crisis situations) or you are in a hyperfocus (and can finish a report that will take a week, overnight). Medication can help to balance it out and be more efficient in a typical workplace routine. Happy to chat more if helpful.
annemuigai's profile thumbnail
A small piece of advise that has always stuck with me (and this situation seems fitting): "Better to ask and be told no, than not to ask at all".Ask for the accommodation. If they say no, then really it's not a workplace you'd want to be in anyway. You'd want to join an organisation that's inclusive and supportive, and their interview process should reflect that.Wishing you the best of luck!
alanaarkell's profile thumbnail
Hi,I've been diagnosed with ADHD since I was 9 and was on medication and got therapy until the end of university. I find that if I exercise daily and eat a healthy diet it tremendously helps, especially making sure I move for 30 mins a day. I also have an adhd coach https://www.instagram.com/behaviourcoach/?hl=en who can help you navigate it. Sometimes the medication is just too much :)