School was always a challenge for me. It isn’t that I didn’t understand the work, but in so many ways it was an uncomfortable place for me to be. I think it might have been helpful if they knew I had Autism. If they knew that I couldn’t be who they wanted me to be, maybe they would have encouraged me in what I could do. But they didn’t know.
I knew that I was different from the other children. I didn’t think, talk, play, or interact like them. Frequently they would call me out on this. I couldn’t be someone that I wasn’t. In the earlier grades, I didn’t even know that I was supposed to try.
Participating in class was often impossible for me. I knew that the teachers thought I was slow, unmotivated, far too shy… I knew what they thought, but I couldn’t explain myself. The words wouldn’t come out.
I resented the fact that they thought I was slow. Just because I couldn’t speak, didn’t mean I didn’t understand. Just because I didn’t finish or hand in the projects, didn’t mean I wasn’t motivated to do the work. I couldn’t form the connections to speak, but within my mind, my thoughts were vast and detailed. I was afraid of being called out for mistakes on my projects. That is why I didn’t hand them in.
People make judgments based on what they see, but what people see is such a small piece of what is true. That always seemed so unfair to me. However, being the quiet, frightened child that I was, it was easier to sit quietly and take it then it was to try to explain with words that wouldn’t come out.
I have autism, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand. My intelligence is at the very least average. Probably a little higher than that. It wasn’t until college that that was shown, however. In college, when I was studying topics I was particularly interested in, my grades became very high. When a lot of the class was failing, I was getting honours marks.
For so long, the teachers and students alike, treated me as if I was ‘stupid.’ For so long that is what they thought, and while I resented it, I also over time believed they must be correct.
It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned they were wrong.