Where does a person with an ADHD disability stand when it comes to the “American with Disabilities Act” which was passed by congress in 1990? I’m not even sure I can answer this accurately, but I’ll try nonetheless.
In 1990, US congress established the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) in order to improve the rights of disabled people. In essence, the law was passed so as to ensure disabled aren’t discriminated against when it comes to things like employment, education, transport, health care, and etc. Before we continue, let me just make it clear that the ADA was introduced to protect disabled people – it was NOT introduced to protect people based solely on the diagnosis of a disability. Let’s just say, there a big difference between losing the tip of one finger, and losing one’s entire arm.
According to recent statistics, there are roughly sixty million people living with a disability in America, ranging from very mild to very severe disabilities. Of these 60 million people, many are able to go about their daily lives and function in the same way everyone else can, including several million who have mental health disabilities such as ADHD. So, is a person with an ADHD disability covered by the ADA?
This is where the question becomes somewhat tricky to answer, because in truth, there are three answers:
We also need to bear in mind at this point, that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is in fact a recognized disability, but that still doesn’t guarantee protection under the ADA. As with most health conditions, ADHD symptoms can be very mild or very severe. Additionally, the condition can almost always be treated, in which case the symptoms are kept under control. The best way to look at this would be to look at it from a very logical point of view.
Inattentiveness for example, is hardly likely to prevent a person from getting gainful employment, and it’s also not likely to have a significant impact on the way a person goes about their daily life. The same can be said about hyperactivity and impulsivity; both are which are at the forefront of ADHD.
Of course, as is to be expected, countless people with ADHD have in the past gone to court in order fight their case, and in a very small percentage of cases, they have won. The Supreme Court has however, now gone ahead and placed restrictions/limits on the act. The court has stated that if a condition, even if it’s considered to be a disability, can effectively brought under control, to a point where the person in question can lead a normal life, that person will not qualify for protection under the ADA.
What Does This Ruling Mean for People With ADHD?
If a person with ADHD wants special accommodations granted under the ADA, they will need to provide substantial proof that they are in fact disabled. In other words, they’ll need to prove that at least one of their major life activities is significantly limited. Such proof would have to include a detailed report from one or more duly qualified doctors with plenty of relevant experience. ADHD disability may also need to be confirmed by a State appointed panel of clinical psychiatrists, depending in the nature of the claim being made.