Navigating school as an autistic young person
Life can be very complicated for an autistic person
Navigating the world as an autistic person can be much more complicated than it is for someone who’s neurotypical. On top of the usual stresses and strains of everyday life, we have to cope with issues specific to autism, like autistic burnout and sensory overload.
I found school really difficult
School was very challenging for me. The environment was extremely noisy and busy. I had to contain so many different feelings and emotions just to avoid a meltdown.
My frustrations could come across as being disrespectful, or even like I was misbehaving. It makes me very sad to think back now, because this was never my intention. I just wanted to be able to be my true self, without fear of judgement.
I was lucky to have a teacher who understood me
In Sixth Form, I was very lucky to have one teacher who really understood me.
She dedicated a weekly timeslot for me to talk to her about anything that wasn’t going right. She sat with and supported me during times I was distressed. She would listen to me and together we were able to solve any potential issues. I felt understood and didn’t have to hide my feelings anymore. It was a massive relief to finally be able to be myself.
There needs to be more awareness about autism in schools
The support my teacher gave me helped me stay in school and maximise my potential. But many autistic young people and children haven’t been as fortunate.
I hope in future, there’s more awareness about the challenges we face, so autistic people in school feel understood and can get the right support. We want to learn, make friends and be ourselves, just like everyone else. It shouldn’t have to come down to luck.
About the author
Emily is an autistic 19 year old and is a member of Ambitious about Autism's Youth Council.
- Read what Josefina has to say about autistic burnout during the pandemic
- Read our top tips for communicating effectively with autistic people
- Download our tips for autistic young people on managing anxiety
- Find out more about education support.