Life and career expectations

Life skills

Life and career expectations

This section helps you to:

  • Consider what a child is good at to give them options for their future career
  • Identify suitable career choices.

On this page:

  1. Building positive goals ↓
  2. ADHD in the workplace ↓

Building positive goals

Children will inevitably leave school at a certain age and it is important to provide a positive outlook for children on how their life will develop once they leave school. Classmates may begin to talk about what they want to do when they grow up and a child with ADHD may worry about what they want to do.

It may help to draw on both positive and negative events that have occurred in the past and what they would like to see as part of their future. You can use this downloadable tool to help a child build their confidence by thinking about:

  • The types of things they do well
  • What they want to do as a job.

Life and career expectations

A tool to help a child think about the types of things they do well and what they may want to do as a job


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ADHD in the workplace

In the workplace, people with ADHD often show a number of key strengths, including energy, creativity, and a tolerance for chaos. At the same time, some adults with ADHD have reported that the difficulties they experienced in school with attention, concentration and organisation were carried over into the workplace. The key challenges facing a person with ADHD at work may include:

  • Being organized, and planning
    • Problems with organization and planning can be made worse with the demands of the workplace
  • Working in a team
    • Relationships with work colleagues, including those in authority, can present real challenges
  • Staying on task
    • May get distracted and have difficulty staying with a task until it has been completed
  • Taking responsibility
    • May find it difficult to take responsibility for their actions at work and control their emotions
  • Creating a work-life balance.

May go to the extremes, either avoiding work or becoming a workaholic.

Although the symptoms of ADHD may affect a person’s ability to carry out a specific job, some people with ADHD see their ADHD symptoms as their strengths that enable them to do tasks better and get on better in everyday life.

ADHD, key strengths in the workplace, handling chaos, creativity, energy

They can:

  • Come up with new ways of looking at problems
  • Offer innovative solutions and approaches at work.

They can:

  • Tolerate and even thrive in a chaotic and busy environment
  • Be flexible in ways that other people might have difficulty with, for example, working alone or at odd hours.

They can:

  • Bring great energy to their work, if correctly motivated and managed to channel that energy.

A career should be built on an individual’s strengths and have some aspects that drive curiosity or have connections with their interests. Useful sources of information in the search for a suitable career include:

  • The internet
  • Career counsellors, either at school or external
  • Trade associations
  • Libraries
  • Role models
  • Job coaches
  • Local ADHD support groups.

Once in a role, career progression should be discussed with line managers, career counsellors and/or human resource (HR) departments.

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Biederman J, et al. J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67:524-40.

Brod M, et al. Health Qual Life Outcomes 2012;10:47.

Brod M, et al. Prim Psychiatry 2005;12(6):58-64.

Coghill D, et al. Child Adoles Psych Mental Health 2008;2:31.

Coleman D, et al. Psychiatr Serv 2009;60:950-7.

Dosani S. Calm your hyperactive child (2008). Oxford, UK: Infinite Ideas Ltd.

Elia J, et al. Child Adoles Psych Mental Health 2008;2:15-23.

Klassen AF, et al. Pediatrics 2004;114;541-547.

O’Regan F. How to teach and manage children with ADHD (2010). Nottingham, UK: LDA.

These materials have been produced with practical advice and guidance provided by the expert European ADHD Awareness Taskforce.