Immigration Manager John Craig shares his thoughts on why being open about his disability at work is a good thing.
In many cases you can’t see it. You can’t hear it. You can’t smell it and you can’t taste it.
No this isn’t an advert for checking your boiler, I am talking about disability.
I want to share with you my experience of living with a disability and especially a disability that you wouldn’t know I had unless I told you it was there.
Disability disclosure is still a taboo topic especially when you look at areas of disability such as mental health.
You may ask if nobody can tell that I have a disability why would I share it in the first place?
The reason I share my disability with my employer and my colleagues is that from time to time my condition means that I need a little support or adjustment to my day to enable me to perform at my best. If I didn’t share what my condition was and how it has an impact on my life then like many individuals I would suffer in silence.
A couple of simple changes can make a huge difference to the lives of individuals living with disabilities.
I am hoping that by sharing my condition with you that people who have been coping without support or suffering impacts in silence will ask for help and make changes that allow them to achieve and perform.
At twenty I was diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome. Twenty is quite a late age to be diagnosed and in reality I had visible symptoms from the age of about seven.
Unfortunately due to negative reactions to my tics as a child I had learned to suppress them to the point that my Tourettes was having a detrimental effect on my overall health and wellbeing. I was suffering in silence.
In case you are wondering, I don’t swear, nor do I have massive outbursts of generally unacceptable behaviour. The media is a great tool but in the case of Tourettes hasn’t always helped to show a very balanced view of the condition.
I manage my Tourettes and I am fortunate that I could take part in a clinical research programme which has given me the control over my condition and enabled me to pursue my career choices.
When I was joining Eversheds I declared my disability to my manager during the recruitment process. It isn’t an easy thing to do, and the timing has to be right for you.
When I was diagnosed with Tourettes I experienced a lot of issues with adjusting to the management of my disability. I was conscious in changing jobs that the adjustments I had in place would not be there if I wasn’t up front about how my condition works for me. There was a risk that my health could suffer if I was unable to apply those management techniques I rely on in my new role so disclosure at the recruitment phase gave me control over the situation and how those adjustments could work in my new environment.
If you are suffering in silence I hope that you can look at this as an opportunity to make a change. You may not count yourself as disabled and in day to day life neither do I, but our own perceptions are often what drive our decisions. Sometimes it is important to challenge those perceptions in ourselves and others.
Finally don’t be defined by what others think you can’t do but by the things you know you can.
John is an Immigration Manager in our Human Resources Practice group and joined Eversheds in 2011.
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