School Was the Hardest thing About Growing Up Autistic

Someone asked about how I was in school.

I was in special education when I was young (early elementary school) and had tutor a few years later. I was a b-c (sometimes d student) with poor social skills. However, I still feel I was “smart” just not smart AT school.

Things that bore me go in one ear and out the other while things that catch my attention and interest me I can learn every detail about. That’s just how I learn.

School wanted me to learn boring things that seemed completely irrelevant and I had a lot of trouble with that.  My other problem at school is that we were expected to sit still for long periods of time without fidgeting. At home I had fidget toys all around me (pinwheels, kaleidoscopes, silly putty, and more). At school no toys were allowed

Teachers saw me as a problem, something they did not want to deal with. They wanted to send me away or pass me along. I even had one teacher tell me I “should have failed her class but she passed me just so she would not have to see me again next year.”

I started school young, excited, and ready to learn. I’ve always had a passion for learning but school almost beat that out of me. By the time I left school I didn’t even know who I was anymore.

School didn’t want me and college was never a real option for me.  I was dismissed over and over again by people who should have motivated me.

Every day I am grateful that I am self motivated. When I want something I push myself for it. I know not everyone has this skill – I wish I could share it with anyone who needs it.

Growing up in my own little bubble, the world in my head is magical and bold. My whole life it has felt as if people are constantly trying to pull me out of that bubble – but the bubble is where I want to be. I am the bubble and the bubble is me.

School wanted me to be a cube but all my edges were rounded. Why could I not just be myself?


#ActuallyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #AutismAwarenes #AutismAcceptance


28 thoughts on “School Was the Hardest thing About Growing Up Autistic”

  1. i liked reading just for pleasure until the 2nd grade. school managed to kill that, but i still read lots for information. reading fiction was no longer really enjoyable. when i was in high school i started reading dostoyevesky while i was in detention– i snagged it from the library. the owner of the school found out (he was a fan too, possibly the reason the book was the library) and gave me a new paperback with two of dostoyeveskys books in it.

    after high school i picked up reading for pleasure again. school sucked every bit of fun out of learning. i would be a venture capitalists wet dream if i had power– id gut schools left and right, not based on test scores but based on lack of offering students a good experience. the thing is, this is probably what needs to happen. its a good thing i dont have any power, because i dont think anyone really knows how to fix it. most people are busy denying the problem, or alternatively covering it in bandages.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hello. Such an interesting read. I am sorry to hear about your school experiences. i am not autistic, but I also feel very strongly about teaching to children’s interests and needs, rather than a strict curriculum that teachers are not allowed to tailor to their students.
    I feel like this for 2 reasons – at school i worked so hard and did well, but not because I was clever, or because i had any interest in the subjects (in fact i never really stopped to even think about what i was interested in). The school system focused on passing tests. I used to have a great memory. i’d learn information off by heart, write it down in a test, and then forget the information instantly. i feel I left school with good grades, but no knowledge. I left school with no idea about my own interests. How is this a good preparation for life? The other reason I am passionate about education is because i am a teacher. i teach early years children (3-5 year olds). it is so important that children’s needs and interests are addressed at this young age. How can young children be expected to learn something if they are not interested in it? I have actually had discussions with teachers who believe a model of education where teachers observe the children as individuals, and base activities and topics around there interests, should be something that extends to education far past the age of 5.
    Anyway, thank you for sharing your experiences…
    P.S. fiddle toys are beneficial for children (and adults!) and I am so sorry to hear that your school did not allow them. Take care and i look forward to reading more about your life. Carly

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! School was a long time ago for me now. Hopefully we will figure it out sooner rather than later. I think the government wants a bunch of people who can’t think for themselves. Makes us easier to control. I hope I am wrong but that is how it felt growing up. Teachers were bent on pushing all the uniqueness out of me.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi, i work for a public education dept in Australia. I am their senior autism advisor. Could I please share you post with my colleagues to help them understand how many autistics experience school? I am also autistic but because I was academic school was quite different for me than for you. If you say yes, how would you like citing? Kind regards Emma

    Dr Emma Goodall. Autism Consultant & Author http;// http;//

    On 11 Apr 2017 6:41 p.m., “Anonymously Autistic” wrote:

    > anonymouslyautistic posted: “Someone asked about how I was in school. I > was in special education when I was young (early elementary school) and had > tutor a few years later. I was a b-c (sometimes d student) with poor social > skills. However, I still feel I was “smart” just not smart ” >

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hello Emma – thank you so much for asking. Please do share I would love any opportunity to help make school a better place for all kids. Normally I just ask that you share a link back to the original content and my pen name is Anna Archer.


  4. This was really enlightening, and it gave me a sense of the school experience for special needs students. As a former special education teacher, it is indeed, very sad to know that there are teachers who aren’t affirming students, or motivating them to enjoy learning in the school setting-whether classroom or entire building.
    Every student is unique and no matter the ‘diagnosis’, they have strengths and preferences as any other. Expression may be different; we are supposed to identify them and build from that perspective. Boring! If I were a student today, I would probably feel as you did, too. Educators continue to teach what they want students to know rather than what they want to learn and what they need to learn-today and tomorrow. Relevance is necessary. I applaud your motivation from within, and respect your courage to share your story. You use your voice, and it speaks to us all in ways that make us reflect and grow.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, very much understand. I could research and read all day about things that interested me, but the things that bored me were torture to learn. I think only my intense desperation to please compelled me for the most part on my grades most years-though middle school and the early part of high school saw a drop as my depression worsened. The last couple of years of high school, I really got to begin tailoring my schedule towards my passions a bit more as some dreaded requirements were fulfilled by then. Got my grades back up, at least, even though school remained a social and emotional minefield in lots of ways. I never felt comfortable with the idea of college-that would bring new level of requirements I felt certain I’d fail at. So, out into the working world it was and a whole new nightmare. lol. But, at least, I guess, I have gained insights over those years to advocate for my children. Thanks for putting a voice to a far too common struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so sorry that your school experience was challenging. You will be happy to know there are schools out there today where not only is it okay to fidget, but we provide fidget toys!! Thank you for your words and guidance. We still have a lot to learn and we cannot without you!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Aside from the bullying in later years, I found school boring. Each grade was a means to an end, the end being graduation. Sensory sensitivities and not being able to relate to other kids in a traditional way along with not being able to move around was time to be endured, not enjoyed. Teachers tried to get rid of me as well. A behavioral school is what was suggested, where the “bad kids” went. My parents had to fight them.
    I had one teacher in 1st grade who came up with an idea for my consistent doodling stim. I could have two notebooks-one for note taking and another for doodling. As long as I was able to focus on the lesson, which I was, no problem. Common sense and empathy can go far. Hopefully, someone reading this will take note.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. For me, it was the opposite. School was the easy part. I struggled socially and had a massively dysfunctional home life, and so doing well in my classes was something that I could accomplish and have some control over in the midst of the larger mess of my life. I finished high school as valedictorian and had a 1500+ SAT, even though, by graduation time, I still had no idea how to date or socialize apart from a small group of friends with whom I had a common interest. But, that was the eighties, when the deficits of people like me were completely overlooked as long as we had high grades in school. So, when I went to an Ivy-tier college and lived in a dorm for four years, I had an extremely tough time since I was so far behind everyone around me in terms of social and emotional maturity. I am still amazed that I made it through all of that. Now, I am a high school teacher and have been doing this for 22 years. Since I began having autistic kids of my own and learned that I am an Aspie, I have been paying uber-close attention to students of mine who are either diagnosed as autistic or whom I think are autistic (twice in the last two years, students whom I have suspected of being autistic have had that verified), and I try to accommodate and guide them. Some of them are much as you described yourself in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Interesting, insight in the world of education. As a student my life was spent avoiding school and skipping out to go to my own classes at the museum of science in Buffalo New York. During my truancy hearing for not attending classes I told them I learned more at the museum. The judge said going to school was the only way to learn. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The problem isn’t necessarily schools, but Government control of schools. Statism is trying to condition us to believe that life is a jail sentence. For example, our ancestors broke their backs to try and get to Heaven. However the past four to five generations have defaulted into believing they were condemned to Hell. It’s all because of the tacit implications of Government education.

    Here in rural Ireland, there are kids brought up practically in bars and get sucked into all the decadent rumours of the day. This dysfunction means that whenever they’re grouped in with kids who give a fuck, they make the achievers’ lives Hell.

    It’s all part of a concerted effort to reward scepticism and punish faith; i.e. the long march through the institutions.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Damn…the teach who said “should have failed her class but she passed me just so she would not have to see me again next year” was messed up. It’s not schools fault. I think school is a great institution, I just think that the teachers in these institutions and who were to be responsible for your education were messed up. They were only caught up on bringing you up academically and not personally too.
    YOU didn’t fail them, they failed you. Unfortunately there are teachers out there that want their job as teachers to be “easy”, but what does that say about them? A whole lot. They weren’t trying to help you. If they couldn’t help you themselves maybe they could have taken professional development classes on how to help students with autism or work with another colleague or something. Their exceptions were too high on you and not on themselves. DId they even TRY to get to know you as a person???
    Anyway, you should be proud that you didn’t give up on yourself. I think that would have been even a worse tragedy. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “YOU didn’t fail them, they failed you. ” – Thank you. I know this NOW that I am older, but for a long time I did not. Teachers were very abusive. It was OVER 30 years ago in a small town where girls were held to VERY high standards.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Anne,

    Glad you had coping skills to navigate school and get the most out of it.

    Gary On Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 2:14 AM Anonymously Autistic wrote:

    > anonymouslyautistic posted: “Someone asked about how I was in school. I > was in special education when I was young (early elementary school) and had > tutor a few years later. I was a b-c (sometimes d student) with poor social > skills. However, I still feel I was “smart” just not smart ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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