Neurodiversity Week – Mike’s Story

Posted 21/03/2024

This Neurodiversity Week, we are sharing stories from Unity Works staff. Today, Mike Donaghy, Job Broker at Unity Works, is sharing his story.

When I started in my role in Employment Engagement, I found it reassuring that my manager recognised the importance of building a personal connection from the beginning. I have tended to start in a role eager and up for a challenge. In all the excitement, I can get overwhelmed by taking on too much too soon.

Often without realising, anxiety sets in, and I start to worry. Having a manager to regularly check-in to ask how I am doing, offering support can really help to manage my expectations. This enables me to plan my time and can help me tackle a heavy workload.

I find open, clear, and consistent communication really empowering.  Being asked about how I feel in a safe environment, sharing my concerns enables us to come to solution together. It is also important to have a balance of both formal and informal communication to feel included, a chat over a coffee or a team discussion are equally as important when it comes to inclusive leadership.

Honest communication is key, acknowledgement of mistakes, apologies are a genuine desire to improve through collaboration is a sign of respect and value.

I have taught myself not to commit to too many responsibilities, to avoid balancing a lot of tasks all at once. I’ve had experiences in the past of not being able to say no, and then becoming overwhelmed consequently.  I slow down and revaluate my overall situation helps me prioritise work goals across projects.

Neurodiversity Week is a yearly opportunity to share what can be achieved when you work in a supportive environment. Unity Works is known for supporting adults with a learning disability into paid employment, by finding the employer most suited to them. At Unity Works there are members of staff that identify as neurodivergent who feel the same way as me.

As staff members we are supported on an individual and team basis, to manage expectations and maximise our full potential. We can empathise with our clients that share their personal experiences of being neurodiverse, and how it impacts them daily. This is acknowledged by myself in my Employer Engagement role, when building relationships with employers to find opportunities for the people we support.

Having a successful career is one thing, but being recognised for what you are good at is something that it is important to a neurodiverse individual. It can one specific thing, or the ability to be versatile in your role or a team setting so long as there supported. Raising awareness of Neurodiversity Week has been fantastic at highlighting the talents and skills that neurodiverse people, but that is not enough. If employers commit to being practical from a HR and individual point of view, to create more inclusive recruitment practices the UK workforce will be a far more diverse place to be part of.