I have tried to write this blog several times, but every time I have attempted to write it is has brought back all the horrible emotions and feelings that I experienced when I was in secondary school. This not an attack on the school I attended or anything like that, this is just the truth and hopefully with the truth it might help others reading this, especially teachers because it didn’t have to be so hard. In future blogs, I will go into more detail about what happened and how it could have been prevented but I feel it is important to give you a general understanding first.
The reason it was so hard for me to write this is that I was bullied in school, not just by students but also by teachers. I believe this happened because I was different and needed a little more help than others. The school in question was offered all the help that they needed to understand AS. They were offered help from the SENO, my medical team and Aspire even went into the school to talk to the teachers in more detail. I got everything I needed from the department of education but not from the school, it was not a lack of resources. They were supposed to develop an individual education plan which all students who have a disability are meant to have, I never saw this nor did my mum. It is important that if you tell someone on the Autistic Spectrum you are going to do something you follow it through otherwise it causes a lot of anxiety as we can be very rigid in our thoughts and not very flexible.
The bullying and the stress in school lead to me start self-harming, I used self-harm as a way of dealing with the way I was treated in school, the school knew all this was going on and still didn’t act properly. I had a list for each class teacher with tips to make it easier for them and me, the way they acted it was obvious most of the teachers did not read it. I remember one meeting where the so called head of special needs in this school asked my mum was she going to do with me after the Junior Cert. This was a very strange and unusual comment to come from someone whose job was meant to help students, keep them in school and make it easier.
Things got so bad that my mum took me out of school, I don’t like to think where I would be today if I had stayed, I don’t think it would have been good, I don’t think I would still be here and that is not an exaggeration. I would encourage parents and teachers to listen to the child what they have to say is very important. Some people said if I came out of school I would not be able to settle back in but the break was the best thing for me. School is meant to be a place of learning and not a place that you go into crying every morning and spend every night wide awake worrying about what is going to happen the next day. A few years later I saw the principal of my old school talking about mental health on TV and how they care about every student’s mental health and how if somebody is being bullied they deal with it, this hurt me as this was not the case for me in that school.
I was home educated in 3rd year, I did my Junior Cert and went to a new school in Transition year and then I did my Leaving Cert in my new school. It was not all easy but the new school was much better and I got a lot of help and support in this school.
Tips to help a Child with ASD in School:
- Listen to the child
- Individual Education Plan
- A Laptop,
- Teach to Type in Primary School – I learnt to type on an Alpha Smart
- Movement Breaks
- Homework Sheet
- An Organisational White Board so they know what is happening next
- A set of books for school and home
- Ear Plugs if school is too noisy
- Separate centre for exams
- Accept the child for who they are
Thank you for reading my general blog on school. For those of you who are currently still in school and or who don’t feel like they fit in just remember that one day you will and that the bullies usually go on to have the boring jobs and live mundane lives!