• saffronkatie

My Life in Education

I thought that this week I would give you an insight into what my educational experience was like, I still haven’t finished my university degree yet, about to enter my third and final year having thankfully passed my second year with a merit. My results came in last week and despite this year’s challenges I am very relieved with my results.

I am one of those people who thrived being in education. It would not have mattered what sort of school I was in because I would’ve loved it anyway. And with that, I was commonly known as the teacher’s pet.

I don’t remember much about my primary school. I went to the same primary school that my family went to. I was terrible at handwriting. I’m lefthanded and once they taught me that I must write joined-up, my handwriting became illegible, and it remained that way until secondary school. I got on well with every teacher I had. Friendship wise, I had made a few friends, and these stayed constant right to the end, and I had one particular friend who was equal to me in every way, we were always together, and we coined ourselves ‘equal bananas.’ I was involved with everything, played all the musical instruments, the recorder and the cornet (my family loved the cornet the most!)

Where I live, was one of the last counties to have the three-tier model of schools. I was the last year to go to middle school because after that they all closed down and moved to the current two-tier model. My middle school actually burned down in 2008, and after that it was portacabins because they knew it would be closing soon anyway. I was only at middle school for Year 5 and 6. Middle school was great for me, I loved it. It was a very musical school, so we often did performances and I joined in with everything I could. I really enjoyed playing the handbells. I often went visiting places and putting on a performance with the handbells. Everyone also got the choice to learn to play an instrument. I decided to play the violin, and so I joined the school orchestra too. This is where I started to struggle with friends. I still had the same group of friends from primary and we had made some new ones which was great. But I started to get bullied because I was weird. They started leaving me out of everything and moving away from me and saying comments and giving me looks when I was near them. When I eventually realised what it was I spoke to a teacher, and nothing was done about it. I was glad to leave them when I left school. In year 6 I had to do my SATs, and I was not very good at writing or maths, so these weren’t very high scores.

Secondary school was perhaps the hardest time for me. Years 7,8 and 9 were more peaceful, but in the lead up to GCSEs it became a nightmare. Up until now, all my reports had all been the same. All the teachers liked having me in their lessons and to them I was a model student. And I always had the same criticism, I needed to be more analytical and evaluative. Something I still get picked up on now and still have not mastered the art of doing that even at university. The final two years at secondary school became harder for me. I was having a difficult time at home and all my grades had come down. I received a lot of support from this, I had one teacher who helped me all the way through this and that meant so much to me. She went above and beyond for me and even now after leaving 4 years ago, I am still in contact with her, and she likes hearing about how I’m doing. I even told her about my autism diagnosis, and she was so happy that I had found out who I was and just generally doing so much better than when she first knew me. School became like a special interest to me. It was a safe place where I knew I could be, I would often be the first person in school. Year 11 absolutely sucked. I found out I had severe test anxiety and would panic during my exams, and I fell out with my group of friends who had been a constant. All because they had finally caught on that I was a bit weird. There was a big argument because they were protecting their diagnosed autistic friend yet shunning me on my not-yet-diagnosed-yet-actually-autistic traits. That marked the end of being able to make friends.

My 2 years of college were completely the opposite. I had lost my friends and seem unable to make new ones or even talk to people in my course that I deeply withdrew and became isolated. Never spoke to anyone and always sat on my own. However, I found my current interest of Politics here and I’m still pursuing that, so that’s one good thing that came out of college. Starting university also seemed to take on this new look. I struggled at university to talk to people, and I didn’t like the expectation of the student life of going out, getting drunk and having parties. That just is not me. But luckily I then received my autism diagnosis, and everything changed, and I’ve made it to my third year! I still don’t talk to people on my course though.

Autistic peoples experience of education is so different. I know how different mine is. I genuinely loved school and everything about it. Yes, it would’ve been easier if the teachers noticed my autism traits but that wouldn’t have changed how I felt about being in education.

#ActuallyAutistic #Education

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