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Creating a more inclusive and accepting world

Date posted
18 October 2023
Sarah Green
Estimated reading time
4 minute read

October is ADHD Awareness Month. Continuing our series on neurodiversity in the workplace, Sarah Green shares her story about working with ADHD.

I became an OSH person by accident, having been sent on the IOSH Managing Safely course at the age of 25. I thought this is for me and it is what I am going to do. Six months on from the course, I got a role at a 54-acre factory and I have now progressed to being a Senior Occupational Health and Safety Advisor, with experience in primarily manufacturing.

ADHD diagnosis

I was diagnosed with ADHD, aged 32, last year. I have always felt different, and ‘other’, but this had been very difficult to explain to other people, especially with no diagnosis. I am not trying to be ‘special’ and I was not looking for a label. I had no ‘reason’ to behave in the way that I did, and I needed answers to the questions I had about myself. Why do I have these terrible tsunamis of emotion when I feel I have failed? Why can I not concentrate on this piece of work? Why does it feel like my insides are full of ants? Why do I not think like other people?

Building relationships can be hard. An example of this is when sometimes at work colleagues have said that I am ‘too much’ but I don’t think I am. It has been exceptionally lonely, and it is only in the last 18 months that I have met another person like me. I do struggle with not talking about how I am different, and this is probably because throughout my life my ‘weirdness’ is pointed out by most people I have interacted with.

I have always been passionately curious; I love knowing things. I like understanding how events happen and how to prevent them in the future. My brain loves problem solving, and I like helping people. So, for me, OSH is the right kind of difficult. I can get bored easily and I hate doing things ‘just because’ so the variability, the breadth of knowledge to be gained and the meaningful change to lives is nourishing for me.

Working as an OSH professional means I can use my personality for good. I can leave positive legacies and I create systems of risk management so that hopefully people can be safe and avoid pain. I know that I am helping to improve the working lives of my colleagues, coaching and supporting others.

Management support

In my current role, I have immense support from my manager. They are aware that the work that I produce might be different from others. They understand what I need and support me. I was listened to about what I need to be productive and excel at supporting my teams.

A practical example of this was changing the layout and formatting of our internal forms because I was struggling with filling them in as I am scared of blank pages. I also have noise cancelling earphones to help me concentrate so that I don’t get distracted. And I have a degree of control of my working day so that I can get rid of the infernal internal itch from sitting at a desk. I can produce a report and then go and wander off to relax my brain as otherwise it can get coiled up and tight. One of the great things about my current role is that I can get out on sites to support our operational teams.

What we all need to be able to thrive is to be able to be ourselves. For me, that means I need to be able to experience my emotions at work without the fear of derision. It’s about being able to be my authentic self. We all need the opportunity to be able work somewhere where you feel more than you are tolerated and that you are part of a team where you are welcomed and accepted. If, to accept someone, they need to be labelled as neurodiverse then that is not really true acceptance. I’d encourage treating everyone with dignity and respect, even if you might find them ‘strange’ or ‘weird’.

So, my message to all my fellow spicy brain havers is I believe in you; I am really proud of you. It is hard to fit into a world that was not designed for us. We are trail blazers. We are creating the way for a more inclusive and accepting world. It can feel really tough for us to be the ones that are doing this. However, as much as I would like to have had a different experience when I was growing up, I believe that I would not be able to make a real difference without being me.

Last updated: 19 March 2024

Sarah Green


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