There Weren’t Autistic People When I Was At School – Not True

This is something we hear a lot, particularly from folks who went to school before the 2000s.

Well, as an autistic person in their 40s I can assure you – we were there. Many of us were not diagnosed or identified as autistic but we were most definitely there.

We were often the quirky kids. The one with the unique sense of style or humour. Other students and teachers may have called us weird. Some of us owned our weirdness. Others did their very best to hide it at great personal cost.

We were often the ones with the intense interests. The ones who possibly knew more about X Files or Pokémon than anyone else. We were the ones who devoured all the info we could get in our favourite subjects.

We were often the ones who always ate the same lunch every day. The ones who had to get to the dinner hall quickly to make sure they didn’t run out of tuna sandwiches or we wouldn’t know what else to have. We were the first ones to notice the recipes had changed slightly too.

We were often the ones who were socially awkward. We may have unintentionally flirted with you. Or unintentionally mocked you. Believe me when I say that decades later we still replay those moments and cringe.

We were often the ones who were off sick on the team building days. The lack of structure, forced socialising with kids we didn’t know, and limited information made many of us feel physically ill.

We were often the ones who were likely either incredibly well-behaved and well-liked by the teachers, or the ones teachers took a dislike to and we were not sure why. Sometimes we were the “disruptive” ones too, with people not understanding that we were in crisis and in need of help and understanding.

We were often the ones who marched to the beat of our own drum. We did things our own way.

We were in the chess team, dance club, drama productions. We may have been on the debate team, maybe editing the school yearbook.

We were often the ones who drifted from friendship group to friendship group. Many of us had intense friendships with one other person. Many of us loved the library for the peace and quiet. A place where talking to others was frowned upon. Many of us revelled in some precious time alone.

We were often the ones most distressed at fire alarms and the school bell. The noise was just too much. We were often the ones who hid in the toilets at break time for some respite.

So yes, we were in your classes at school. We probably sat next to you at times. We may have eaten lunch together. You may have worked with us on some projects. We may even have been your friend.

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My Lived Experience

Asking me to talk about ‘my experience of autism’ is as odd as being asked what my experience is of having blue eyes.


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What knowing I am autistic means to me

After 39 and a half years of not knowing what made me tick, why I communicated and behaved the way I did, I finally got confirmation that I am autistic.

My Autistic Journey

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Growing Up Undiagnosed

I was diagnosed as autistic eleven years ago at age 21. I had spent my entire life feeling different, not quite fitting in, but not knowing why.

Trusting What Remains

I struggle to trust my processing of this world, but I’ve found other feelings to rely on.