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Autonomy + Social Support = Good Job for ADHD

Who doesn’t want a job where they have lots of control over how they perform their duties and lots of support from their colleagues? Pretty much no one.

But it turns out these factors may be especially important for people with ADHD.

A recent study found that ADHDers are especially sensitive to the effects of having low control over their jobs and little social support. Specifically, these job traits are closely tied to psychological distress among people with ADHD, more so than people without the condition.

Autonomy and social support… and coffee helps too.

If you have ADHD, this is one of those findings that makes a lot of sense when you read it. That’s because being able to cope with our symptoms in the workplace tends to require having flexibility in how we do our jobs, as well as support and acceptance from our colleagues.

ADHDers’ workplace performance can vary dramatically based on their environment. In a setting that clicks with how our brains work, we can bring creativity, energy and dedication, sometimes even hyperfocus. In a job that’s a bad fit, though, we lack the executive functions to force our brains to pay the “correct” amount of attention to tasks that aren’t rewarding.

My opinion is that one of the most effective steps you can take to cope with ADHD is to find a job that fits your brain. What I like about this latest study is that it gives us a couple concrete data points on what that job might look like.

For one thing, it’s probably a job where you have control over what you do and how you do it. In their article, the researchers mention creative and entrepreneurial jobs – two types of occupations that meet the “high job control” criteria and seem to be popular among ADHDers.

But social support also matters. Having a work environment where you feel supported by your coworkers is helpful for everyone, but it apparently makes an especially big difference for coping with ADHD symptoms at work.

Easy enough to say that, of course, but how to actually find an ADHD-friendly job? So far, the only formula I’ve come up with involves reflecting on your interests, keeping an open mind, and being ready to do a lot of trial-and-error.

Image: Flickr/Aidan

Autonomy + Social Support = Good Job for ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). Autonomy + Social Support = Good Job for ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Apr 2019
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