Emma (they/them) works at the Engagement and Opportunities team supporting Societies at the Students’ Union in Greenwich, and was diagnosed with ADHD in their second year of University. For Disability History Month, they sharing my experiences of transitioning from Higher Education to the Workplace as a neurodivergent person.
My name is Emma (they/them), I work on the Engagement and Opportunities team supporting Societies at the Students’ Union in Greenwich, and I was diagnosed with ADHD in my second year of University. For Disability History Month, I’m sharing my experiences of transitioning from Higher Education to the Workplace as a neurodivergent person.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and while figures vary, it is estimated that around 5% of the global population have an ADHD¹ diagnosis. I didn’t know much about ADHD the first time someone suggested that I might have it, but as I learned more about the signs and behaviours of ADHD, a lot of things started to make sense. Being unfocused, easily distracted, and impulsive were only a few of the traits that had heavily featured on the occasions where I had faced issues and barriers in both my education and career. During the second year of my degree, I found myself struggling, despite my enthusiasm and passion for my chosen subject. I was struggling to concentrate, stay engaged and at points even unable to read text and recall information. When I received my diagnosis before going into my final year, I felt that a lot of questions had been answered, but I still had more to ask.
I decided to use my undergraduate dissertation to investigate the barriers people with ADHD face in the workplace, to help me understand myself, and how I could prepare for the next stage of my career after graduating. Not everyone with ADHD identifies with the term ‘disabled’. However, being disabled is a term that is now widely understood to refer to the way that society disables a person that has a difference or impairment, rather than that person’s difference or impairment being what disables them².
Through my research, I found that poorly designed training, inflexible procedures and policies, and the lack of awareness in other people are all barriers that people with ADHD might face in the workplace. Fortunately, many workplaces are improving their policies and provision with reasonable adjustments, and there is a growing awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace. Professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) have developed resources for employers to help better support their Neurodivergent employees³.
Below, you can find some of the most beneficial tools and tips that I have discovered and used to navigate and overcome barriers and challenges related to ADHD. I’ve found them incredibly useful, so I hope others can too.
This short quiz from Genius Within helped me begin to understand what kind of things I might find challenging and why, and where I can combat and mitigate those challenges through using the right tools and creating strategies and routines.
Here are some great tools that I’ve used to help with organisation, time management and planning, which are skills I’ve always found tricky to master.
Influencers & Educators
- Ellie Middleton – Autistic & ADHD Activist - LinkedIn Profile
- The Mini ADHD Coach – Educator & Content Creator - Website
- Neurodiversity: the diversity of human neurocognitive function and behaviour
- Neurodivergent: having neurocognitive function that differs from that which is considered the majority. A collective term that includes diagnoses such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)4, Tic Disorders such as Tourette’s Syndrome5 and Learning Difficulties such as Dyslexia⁶)
- Reasonable Adjustments: The ways an employer can make changes to a workplace to reduce or remove a disadvantage to an employee related to a disability7.
- More about ADHD
- Social Model for Disability
- Neurodiversity at Work
- National Autistic Society
- Tourettes Action
- More about Dyslexia
- Reasonable Adjustments