Chloe Randall

ADHD: How to cater to employees & clients in the nail space

By Chloe Randall | 10 October 2023 | Feature

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According to the NHS, ADHD affects 3-4% of adults and is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in the UK. There are multiple variants of the condition, so diagnosing ADHD is difficult and can take years of assessments.

For people with ADHD, everyday tasks can often be challenging and overwhelming. Scratch talks to a tech and client about how it affects them in the nail space and how employers and salons can be more inclusive to those with ADHD…

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms of ADHD can be categorised into two types; inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing), and hyperactivity/impulsiveness.

In adults, the NHS reports that the common symptoms associated with ADHD are:

• Carelessness and lack of attention to detail.
• Continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones.
• Poor organisational skills.
• Inability to focus or prioritise.
• Continually losing or misplacing things.
• Forgetfulness.
• Restlessness and edginess.
• Difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn.
• Blurting out responses and often interrupting others.
• Mood swings, irritability and a quick temper.
• Inability to deal with stress.
• Extreme impatience.
• Taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for
personal safety or the safety of others.

Tech Talk: Chantelle Parsons, Christchurch, New Zealand

“I was a quirky, creative child at school; a maximalist and collector of ornaments,
craft supplies, clothes and anything else that provided dopamine. When a friend was diagnosed with ADHD, she sat me down one night and suggested that I too may have the condition.

“I was very confused, but when she read out the description, as well as the fact that she and I have very similar personalities, I booked an appointment with a doctor and was properly diagnosed – at the age of 30. The medication prescribed immediately helped with my work life, easing issues such as lack of motivation, anxiety, afternoon sleepiness, overthinking and being distracted.

“Before the medication, I would sit with clients and battle to start a conversation in quiet moments. I had so many thoughts circling, but then my mind would wander off into the jobs that I need to get done or the social media post I needed to create.

“On reflection of my previous jobs, I believe that knowing I had ADHD could have helped me so much, as could my employer being able to understand the condition and how to get the best from me.

“If employers take the time to understand ADHD, it will benefit them in the long run. People with ADHD are creative, they think outside of the box, they will hyper focus and concentrate on something rewarding for hours on end. They are also personable, empathetic and will generally treat your business as their own.

“Many people with ADHD may perceive something said as a rejection of their character and take it very personally.
If you have something to discuss with an employee with ADHD, it is best to have a private meeting and give compliments as well as discuss areas for progress.

“There are some mundane tasks that need to be done in nail salons, but an unmedicated ADHD worker won’t want to do them. An employer would be wise to add a healthy amount of pressure, or consider a reward system. ADHD suffers may appear lazy sometimes, but it isn’t the case, and that’s when feelings of anxiousness and rejection may appear.

“I’m now self-employed, so I have to complete paperwork, do my taxes and schedule media posts. If it doesn’t get done, the consequences are mine, and mine alone.”

Client Chat: Megan Allaway, Tunbridge Wells

Megan Allaway was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 21. She had been suffering with other mental health issues and decided to get assessed after recognising similar signs in people she followed on TikTok who had ADHD. She finds nail salon visits challenging.

“I can sit still, but my mind is hyperactive. My ADHD makes my head buzz and when I was diagnosed, it was described to me as the secretary that organises my brain being absent. The secretary’s role in a neuro-typical brain is to organise and prioritise, so that the non-important information is saved for later and the brain can focus on one thing. I don’t have the secretary that a neuro-typical brain has, so all thoughts are running through my mind at the same time.

“I could be looking for inspiration for nail designs online, but then get a text message and before finishing the reply to that message, I remember an email that I need to send or that I missed a phone call. ADHD causes me to be distracted and not complete tasks, such as choosing a design for my nails.

“Some of the things that I find challenging are making decisions and overthinking. I also have time blindness, meaning that I can lose track of time, and find arriving at a particular time for a nail appointment to be stressful.

“When attending nail salons, I struggle to choose a design or colour and have sensory overload. I don’t like making phone calls, so prefer to book an appointment online. To prevent feelings of being overwhelmed, I need to know in advance exactly want I need in terms of shape, colour and design. I worry about the questions that might catch me off- guard. This means that what is a simple three step task for a neuro-typical person – leaving the house, driving to the salon, and getting nails done, becomes a much more difficult multi-step task, requiring hours of preparation and thinking before an appointment.

“It would be beneficial if nail techs were aware of how people can struggle with sensory issues. Personally, I often have sensory overload from bright and flashing lights,” Megan continues.

“I find them stressful and they cause me a headache. Others with ADHD could be overwhelmed by other sensory challenges, such as noise and the smell of the products.

“I am unable to touch certain fabrics and materials and it is difficult for me to say to others when I am in discomfort, and to explain what is causing it. I would likely sit and struggle through and just not go back to the salon again.”

Following challenges at other nail salons, Megan has found comfort at Truly Beauty, Tonbridge, a finalist for Scratch Stars Nail & Beauty Salon of the Year 2023.

“Truly Beauty has an online booking system, so I can make a booking in my own time. I am in control of the process
and can look for options, whereas phone booking requires decisions I may not be prepared for.

“At Truly Beauty, the nail techs are approachable and friendly. If I cannot decide on a nail colour, they happily assist and give me a shortlist or pick a final shade from my shortlist. I also have the same nail tech every time I visit, and the continuity is helpful. I know the designs and colours offered which helps me prepare in advance.”

October is ADHD Awareness Month. Find out more here