14 September 2023
A Derbyshire Police student officer who is currently being assessed for ADHD and autism has told how he finally starting to feel like himself again, as he encourages his colleagues to be ‘open and honest’ about living with neurodiverse conditions.
Ryan Banner, who is nearing the end of the Police Constable Apprenticeship Scheme, says ‘it is a relief’ to be finally undergoing an assessment for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and autism, having spent years feeling like things were not ‘100 per cent’.
The 23-year-old admits that he ‘ignored’ the signs for so long, especially after joining the police, as he ‘did not want to appear weak’.
“I’d love to tell you it’s been an amazing three years but it’s actually been some of the toughest years of my life. It’s nothing short of a challenge trying to juggle the huge amount of work that comes with the degree, alongside a full-time job,” said Ryan.
Ryan Banner, who is nearing the end of the Police Constable Apprenticeship Scheme.
“I used to be so hard on myself. And when I joined the police, the last thing I wanted to do was appear weak. In fact, I now know, that being honest and speaking out about living with a neurodiverse condition is not weak, it’s the opposite.”
Ryan recalls being prompted to contact the doctors after unintentionally upsetting a colleague through the way he worded an email.
He explained: “I can be professional but I also have very little control over my emotions - and that doesn’t always work in my favour.
“I needed to make sense of why I was behaving in such a way.”
“I let the Force’s occupational health team know and they were really helpful. Even though I haven’t been officially diagnosed yet, they are helping to put alternative arrangements in place to make my job and life easier,” continued Ryan.
“I feel like I’m gradually finding myself again. I’m becoming a better version of myself and getting back to who I was before. This is massive for me and has a real positive impact on the job.
“The best way I can describe it is it being the biggest hindrance but also my greatest superpower.”
Ryan has since joined the Force’s Neurodiversity Support Group, allowing him to meet others in a similar situation.
“It made me realise I wasn’t so alone,” he said.
“And now I want to encourage others to speak up, so they too, can receive the support they need. I was in a very dark place - and I’m only just getting out of that place. I’m sure others are in a similar position to me. Honestly though, the longer you ignore it, the harder it becomes.
“I want people to know that living with a neurodiverse condition is not embarrassing. But the first step to accepting your condition is being honest with yourself.”
Ryan said he has been ‘pleasantly surprised’ at the support received from both the Force and the group.
“Having a network there has proved invaluable,” added Ryan.
“In fact, I’ve been surprised as to how helpful the network has been. There are so many people out there with their own story - and when I told mine, I received a very positive response from others.
“It’s very comforting to know that I have that support network around me. I know I’ll be fine and all of this, will only make me a stronger person.”
The Force’s Neurodiversity Support Network, which already has more than 130 members, is a virtual support and advice group for those living with, or know somebody living with a neurodiverse condition.