Before you read this, I just want to say: Don't get discouraged. My situation is mine alone and doesn't necessarily reflect on yours. If you DO get discouraged while reading this, please read the last paragraph before discarding everything. There is hope for people with Autism. Again, my situation is mine alone. What I can take isn't the same as what you can take.
I was just watching a documentary about highly gifted children in school. While they were talking about being bored and bullied in regular classes, I broke down and cried.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not highly gifted. I got a huge difference in performal and verbal IQ. My verbal IQ is very high and my performal IQ is very low. This is a lot of psychological talk, which basically means (all psychologists in the world, don’t go shooting me down now, I know this doesn’t cover all bases. Feel free to better explain this if you want, I just don’t know a better way.) that I’m very good at understanding and copying language, both written and spoken, but that I’m terrible at things that need to be done and processed.
How is this seen in life? You’ll see that I sound very intelligent and even learn very fast, making me great at most (not all) things in school, but that I’m very slow. At school I get one of the highest grades, while being behind on all my homework, even when I take hours more to try and complete it.
On top of all of this I’m chronically fatigued, which causes me to not even have enough energy to get enough hours at work. I also have Asperger’s, which is great in studying (hyperfocussing), but terrible in the sense of understanding social interacting. Combine these things and here we have me, a child that has the highest grades, is always behind on her schoolwork and gets bullied all the time.
All of this caused me to collapse a lot of times and needing to get to lower levels at school, because they also require less homework and less speed. At the same time it made me more bored in the sense that I wasn’t challenged with my brain. I still had to work hard to keep up with the speed, but it was just because I don’t perform as quick, not because I didn’t understand it. Now imagine a child who keeps stating she’s bored and who isn’t thrilled with joy when receiving yet another 10 (an A or 100%) for her work. Result? More bullying.
Here I was. Getting the best grades, while hardly studying for tests, but working my butt off to get stuff done and being bullied all the time. If you’ve read this far, you’ll understand I was very depressed. At some point I found my Kansas (see my first blogpost if you don’t know what that is), which is events, and I made some friends at those events. This slowly but surely got me out of my depression, but I still was unhappy at school and only went back there, because I needed to graduate.
Later I would study for being a pastry baker at level 2. As it turned out, I couldn’t take the school hours AND the internship, so I had to quit the education. I ended up finishing the year graduating as an assistant baker. I was very happy with the paper and it’s because of that that I can now do the job I can (I work at La Place, a diner in a shop that sells clothes and some other stuff).
But still I feel down. I love my new work place in the sense of that I’m having fun and I want to keep doing this for some time longer. Don’t get me wrong. But I don’t feel mentally challenged all that much. I seek challenges in my work now in the sense that I’m trying to remember everything I have to do as quickly as possible, but it’s not the same as the challenge a high level school gives you.
In my opinion this is a true loss in the school market. I wish there was a school where I could study anything I’d like to study and take all the time I need and work the hours that I can do. I don’t care if I take longer then. There ARE schools that allow you to take longer, but they still want you to make the school hours and to finish your internship and I simply can’t. Right now I’m working 15 hours a week, divided in 3 days in the week, so that I can have a rest day in-between everything. (Monday, Wednesday, Friday are my workdays) I haven’t found a school AND internship combined that is within my interest and that offers this.
Every time I read or watch something about children who feel bored, left out and sometimes even bullied at school, I tear up. I still feel very sad about this subject.
I want to add a note to this blogpost. Everyone with autism: Don’t despair after reading this! There are perfectly good schools for people with autism! In fact, studying with Autism is very much possible and even very easy if you find the right school! There are even specialized schools for people with Autism! I’m talking about my chronic fatigue COMBINED with my Asperger’s influencing everything so much, that I have needs that schools just don’t meet (or I just haven’t found that school yet… tell me if there is one). This doesn’t reflect at all at all people with Autism.
I’ve met many people with Autism who were very successful at school. Don’t get discouraged.