As an aspie kid, even regular activities such as being at school can be incredibly stressful.
As I enter the school gates, I can sometimes feel anxious simply because I am unsure, even after 7 years at the school. Am I late? Early? I will glance in the window and discover if any classmates have arrived already. This helps to give reassurance that I am doing the right thing,
After hanging up my bags, and having a momentary conversation with a few classmates in the cloakroom, I am often reluctant to enter the classroom first. I feel this is a result of previous entries when my teacher has greeted me in the morning. I dislike it when this happens because I am never certain how to respond. Usually I will mumble a response and attempt to smile away any uncertainty, but it is important to know that I don’t mean any offence by not looking in your direction and not responding confidently. It is normal for me to avoid eye contact and looking at other people’s faces. It is important that my inability to obey the phrase ‘look at me when I’m talking to you’ is understood.
During lessons, I become most confident being left to focus on my work. Maths is by far my favourite subject, mainly because I feel I excel at it. Knowing that I’m doing the right thing is very reassuring for me. However, sometimes direct instructions and questions that are aimed specifically towards me can be a problem .When teachers ask me questions it is far better saying ‘Erin, can you pass me that book?’ rather than ‘Pass me that book please Erin.’ This is because I can become over absorbed in an activity, (especially when reading) resulting in me blocking out any other sounds, until I hear my name. If the question precedes my name, I don’t hear the question I only hear my name. Then I worry because I know I have missed something!
Lunch time can demonstrate a large issue for me; as an aspie kid, I have an enormous sense of right and wrong, therefore, if someone else is misbehaving or just pushing in the queue I can become tense. At times I can actually feel scared. I can’t anticipate when that behaviour will reach its limit. However I will rarely inform anyone else about this during the school day. When I become tense or stressed, I struggle to release my negative emotions which results in me becoming irritable and preferring not to speak. I find that all these emotions just hover in my stomach which leads me to occasional tears and a complete breakdown.
I have a canopy in my class room that I can retreat into but still feel part of the class and importantly, still hear the lesson the teacher is giving. I prefer it this way rather than having to walk out and then worse – back in to the class with everyone looking at me. I need time out to process things – usually after break times because they are so busy.
Home time brings relief to me; if I have been stressed at school I will release all my emotions in the car, explaining it to my mum and calming myself down.
The promise of a new day is a huge consolation; sometimes when something bad happens in the morning and I cry or become deeply annoyed and upset, I just want to start the day again. In my mind I have the concept of every day has to be a good day, and I class days as good, bad, really good, really bad etc. This may seem illogical but I enjoy it. However if a morning has been upsetting, I can become irritable and upset at school for I feel even if I do brilliantly at school today, it can’t be a super good day because I’ve had a bad morning.
I love school. I love learning. It really pleases me when I have done something right. My advice for helping me would be fairly simple: Try and get to know me. Give me praise to boost my confidence – which is low at times. Realise that even though I may be functioning ok, I may actually be in pieces inside. Know that it is impossible for me to keep eye contact with you without it causing me physical discomfort. Try and pick up on my signs that I am uncomfortable –Do I look stiff when I walk? I can’t tell you I am upset about something, but the signs are all there. Teachers will rarely see me upset because I contain it all until I release it at home time. If you notice that I look tense and you understand the reason, the best thing to do is explain things to me gently (if you can, try to make it funny and get me to smile) and reassure me that I’m doing the right thing. This helps me to calm down and become happy again.