I am Rachel Watson and I work in the Finance, Planning and Data Insight Section as both a Planning and Data Insight Assistant (0.6FTE) and Tax Assistant (0.4FTE).

I was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in September 2022, after almost a year of consultations and testing. I always knew I didn’t quite fit in to the world and its norms, but it wasn’t until late 2021, when I watched the Christine McGuinness documentary Unmasking My Autism, that I could relate to somebody else’s experience. This led me to seek out my own diagnosis.

Although I was expecting it (having sought the diagnosis myself), it was still an initial shock to find out I had ASD having gone through almost 28 years of life without the diagnosis. However, it was the clarity I needed in order to help better understand the world around me. It helped me understand how my brain works and helped me understand why others thought and processed life differently to me.

I started working for the University in March 2020, therefore I worked here for over two and a half years before I was diagnosed. My line manager and teams have been incredible in offering their support to me and offering me flexibility in my working patterns and workload.

If you think you might be neurodiverse, I’d recommend working to your strengths. Offer your expertise where your strengths lie and be willing to accept help and assistance with any areas you find more challenging. This approach has really worked for me. If everyone, neurotypical, neurodiverse, or however you identify, could use their own strengths to help one another with areas where others may struggle, the world will take that step towards becoming a more neurodiverse-friendly environment for all.