Good day, I thought that on this blog I would talk about the help I received as a child and whether I personally think it helped in any way or hindered my progress through life. Where I normally talk about Autism, most of this happened when I was unaware that I had it. I would begin life struggling to do anything really but by the way I became an adult I was just as capable as anyone was but along the way, I felt like I had reached that point but couldn’t find anyone who believed me so I had to have help in school to which I didn’t always want and I’ll explain why in this blog.
When I was younger, the simplest of tasks seemed to be a little bit of a challenge to me, where for everyone else was simple, easy and came naturally to them. Walking and talking were both late into the station for me, delayed by measures that were never understood at such a young age, I paid no heed to either one but everyone around me were very concerned about falling behind everyone in my schools.
As well as going to my hometowns school, I also went to a special needs school, which I have nothing but fantastic memories of that place, more so than my other school. I don’t know why the special needs school was better than the mainstream school, probably because the former had more children that were like me in certain ways and we could relate, whereas the latter was full of children that could adapt and learn without much assistance but I went to both schools during the week but as the years went by, I would slowly begin to go to the school in my hometown a bit more and by the time I turned 7, I left the special needs school as I didn’t have a need to attend anymore.
From 1992 to 1997 I attended that school and they were the best 5 years that I had at any place of education, at least until I started college in 2006 but that’s a long wait and the time in between were dark days for me as a person, ones that I feel hindered any progress and left me doubting myself and seeing no hope for any kind of future but every time I say this in a blog, I think hard and wonder…were they really as bad as I always make them seem? Well I went from having good friends to no friends to speak of in the space of a couple of years as everyone at the other school found me weird and wanted nothing to do with me, reasons I didn’t understand at that time as I didn’t even know that I had Autism at this stage. Yes I was bullied, never beaten up or anything but made to feel like a no one which didn’t help the situation when I had never experienced such isolation before. Treat like I was incapable by teachers and students…doesn’t make one confident for the future, does it?
Leaving that special needs school was painful for me and to be honest, a part of me died that day or should I say any happiness I had enjoyed in life up to that point, wiped out by the cold reality of real life and it sounds dramatic saying that but when I look back at my life, moving schools was the equivalent of being thrown into shark infested waters, something that I was not really prepared for mentally. A couple of years later, it became a realisation that it might be years before I can find the confidence I had gained at my previous school, to be made to feel normal, that was all I ever wanted and to be honest, it was what was needed for me to grow as a person as well but as I discovered over the next 5 to 6 years, no one would listen.
Hang on, I slightly take that back a little, some people did listen as I had 2 helpers in my primary school that were kind and did help me in a way that I needed, they treated me with kindness and respect and for brief moments, I began to think that everything would be ok…only for all of that to be dashed away once secondary school started but I won’t even mention that place anymore so lets move on!
I found out when I was a little bit older that I needed a lot more attention than many other children in my year did and I was stunned by that because I didn’t even notice that I was getting any of it, assuming that others had help in classes as well, I never really paid any attention to it…after all I was still a child who didn’t think much about stuff like that. I always had a helper for classes and some were really good with me but as I grew, having a helper just seemed to bother and hinder me because I didn’t feel like I was doing that much of the work if I had a cheat code to help me out. To be honest, my person just sounds like a ungrateful moaner who was ungrateful for having help at all but hear me out when I say that I felt like I didn’t need it, I wanted to accept the responsibility of taking on all of my work because I believed I had what it took to get decent grades if given the chance but by the time my GCSES came about, I was diagnosed with Autism and thrown in a small group with delinquents who were very distracting and was only allowed to do 3 GCSES, Maths, English and Science….doesn’t scream having faith in you that much, does it?
All of that help in school ended up in nothing in the end really, just a waste of time because no one knew what I had until it was too late and to be honest, I’m glad they didn’t know earlier on because lord knows what they would have done then…it was still a time that not many knew what Autism was! 2006 was a year where everything changed because guess what? I knew what I needed and I went to college to get away for that god forsaken and clueless area that did nothing for me, I went back to the town where the special needs school had been and went to college and spent the next 5 years rewriting what I considered to be wrongs given to me as I had a nasty taste in my mouth, which to be honest..I still somewhat have of that place.
I still had some help in college as well but it was voluntary and others had it as well so I didn’t feel alone and I was made to feel like I could figure it out for myself which was what I wanted and…I did, I got better marks immediately, what a surprise, so much time wasted before hand and for nothing…I felt robbed of years of my life, all because some people took a look at me and didn’t see much and like a wad of gum, I was thrown away pretty much. College gave me my confidence back and I accepted some help because it benefited me and helped me grow, which was how I should have felt earlier on and even in University, I had a helper that I saw once a week who was the best helper I ever had, she was so good and gave great advice that when she sadly left before my final year began, I declined the offer of a new helper and spent the 3rd year doing my own work, I didn’t want anyone else…she was to special to me because she did the one thing that those other helpers in my childhood (minus 2) failed to do…treat me like I could do it, like they had faith that I would get it and that was something I rarely felt in school.
To sum all of that up, what I feel like the issue was that before I was diagnosed with Autism, things weren’t terrible, sure school wasn’t the best and I was unaware of what I had and perhaps I didn’t help myself with actions in my childhood as I didn’t understand but sympathy for such things was non existent amongst most people back then so I felt like an outcast and wasn’t given a chance to learn and grow because of it which continued on until I left school and begun college where I finally was able to understand because people gave me a chance, which was all I ever needed.
When I was taken from most classes in High school and put into a smaller one, it was because no one knew what Autism was but they immediately assumed that was what was best for me which was wrong because they just assumed it was one thing but I don’t have a high dose of it, which I was unaware of at the time as I believed what I was told at that stage and it made me resent everything, I turned bitter and negative because I felt that was how the world felt about me. What hope for a future did I have when everyone had turned against me in a sense, well not everyone against me but not much belief was there but it did make me determined…I was so desperate to wipe the smug grins off my doubters that I pushed myself for years afterwards to accomplish something without help and when I graduated from University with a 2:1 and award for overall achievement…I felt like I had done that but even so…if I had those years back where I could have focused on what I wanted to do with my life…maybe I would have gone down another more promising path, who knows.
The help during my time in education both help and hindered me at certain times but for other people, maybe they need help all the way through but not everyone with Autism does and that was my issue, it was assumed that Autism was the same with everyone who had it so I got the same help that someone with high Autism would but I didn’t need it and it hindered me in a big way. As for now, I guess I am happy that it showed that I at least never gave up on myself or I doubt I’d have ever wanted to go to college after all of that, nor would have met the friends I have today or my eventual wife…it’s funny when you think that if you had one or two things differently, you might not have what you have today in a way…I guess everything happens for a reason.