I have one lasting memory of mainstream primary school. I was four years old and went into assembly. I felt really frightened and held on to the hand of the boy next to me. It felt as if everyone in the hall turned to stare at me. I burst into tears. Luckily I only had to go there for six weeks in total before I went to a special school.
My mum has told me the rest about my time before special school. How I stopped speaking, hated the colour grey (that was the colour of my school trousers), kicked and punched my mum when she tried to take me to school, had nightmares and started sleepwalking, screamed if we drove anywhere near the school. I’m sure that there is more. I can’t believe I have just described myself like that.
I was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder at the age of three and can only remember feeling anxious and worried all the time. I have always worried about doing things for the first time and going to new places. I worry to the point of being physically sick.
I love playing football and have played for a local pan-disability team for about five years. The first time I went I cried and shook with fear and tried to make excuses every week not to go but I kept going and two years ago was chosen to play for Kent. I was so ill before every football match but my mum and dad gave me the confidence to believe that I could actually do it. It was before one of these matches, when I had been sick for the whole two hour journey, that I asked my mum and dad to help me. I hated feeling like this all the time. I was prescribed medication that made me feel less anxious all the time and helped me sleep.
In June 2010 I had to leave my school. I had spent the last two years refusing to discuss leaving and wanted to stay where I was understood for the rest of my life. At one meeting a lady from East Kent College came to see me and I had to leave the room, I was shaking and crying so much my mum had to calm me down. I was so scared about leaving my school.
My only experience of the college had been work experience but I was so frightened and it was so busy that on day three I locked myself in a room and my dad had to come and get me. He found me curled up in a corner shaking when he arrived.
Two ladies from the college came to meet with me before I left school and I really bonded with Colleen. She made me feel at ease and safe. I started college last September and much to everyone’s amazement – and with a lot of support and encouragement from Colleen - I walk to college on my own and walk around the college. I have made lots of friends and it’s nice to know that Colleen is there if I need her. At times I do still feel scared and anxious and I get very tearful but I know it can be sorted out.
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