Life with ASD and Dealing with Unhealthy Environments
I could start with the obvious and say I always felt different from everyone else and how I got diagnosed and my journey there but this is not what this is about. This is about my life for the past year and perhaps some advice about how to deal with unhealthy environments. For context my conditions include ASD, tourettes syndrome, dyspraxia, IBS and a learning difficulty along with anxiety and depression (depression is undiagnosed). For context (again) I had started volunteering at a local pool as a swimming teacher’s assistant.
We are going to start in September the start of my last academic year in Sixth Form. All was going well. I had just dropped Chemistry, my worst subject, and was underway with an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) about my favourite sport - synchronised swimming, Problems began when I had a new Psychology teacher. She was a lovely lady but a harsh marker meaning I got my first U (unclassified) in my 16 mark questions in psychology,. I had already put pressure on myself to do well but this was reinforced by all my teachers, especially in Psychology, and the fact I had done badly was almost unbearable. The fact I was at a grammar school did not help this one bit. Then we had to do Shakespeare in English Literature which would have been okay had it been an easy play such as Hamlet but we had to do ‘Measure for Measure’. The pressure mounted even more and as I was struggling for the first time in my best subject, By October I was constantly studying trying to meet my expectations of both myself and my teachers. Even when I did well it was never good enough. I was burning myself out, having to go to bed at 7 every night. I cried regularly about not being good enough, I became defensive and withdrawn, I remember one particular event where my friend asked me what it was like to be and that’s as far as she got. I cut in being defensive about my disabilities and how they do not affect me when it was becoming obvious that they were, My tics were prominent due to the anxiety I felt around exams and doing well, This meant the bullies got worse, constantly imitating my tics and laughing as if it was a funny joke, this made me feel completely alone as no one else at school had to deal with this - not even my friends. The school said I should ignore them unless I want everyone to know I have tourettes syndrome. I thought it was pretty obvious to everyone I had tourettes syndrome but I chose to ignore them as I thought if they knew that would give them more ammunition. Then the October holidays came around and I realised how much I hated school and how ill it was making me, My Mum had to force me to go in on the first day back (along with my Head of Year), They wanted me to stay as school dropouts do not have a good reputation, It was a SEN (special educational needs) Assistant who helped me to convince them. She asked me what I would do if I could do anything in the world. I replied be a swimming teacher. She helped convince my Mum and my Head of Year. I spent that week emailing people (including the pool I volunteered at) trying to find a job to support my mum but also to allow me to drop out of school, I applied for all sorts of jobs just in case the swimming teaching wasn’t meant to be. It was if you were wondering, I am now almost a qualified swimming teacher, soon to be synchronised swimming coach and judge, School (along with work environments), even though it tries, is not a healthy environment for everyone and there are other options if you are struggling - you just have to look for the opportunity.