A Day In Mainstream School For My Autistic Daughter

I am so grateful that my daughter can talk and that she shares freely with me her worries and stresses of school. This day in the life has been written with her full consent and approval to help others see how challenging mainstream can be for some children with autism and how they can perhaps ‘hold it together’ all day but explode at home. 
img_2266Morning preparation 

I wake up and come downstairs and try not to think about school too much. I get my iPad or toys and set them up just how I like it. I know I need to get dressed and eat but until things are ‘right’ I can’t think about those things. I need to do one thing at a time so please leave me alone. Let me do it my way. Constantly asking me questions is so stressful as is nagging me about time. By the time we need to leave I am already stressed and anxious.

In the playground

I am scanning. This is so hard to see who I need to see when everyone is dressed the same and moving around. The noise, the unpredictable movements, the bags on the ground…that’s a lot to take in for me. I only want to find my best friend and the longer it takes to find her the more I get worried. What if she is off sick? What if she has an appointment today?

IMG_2395The bell

Bells panic me. They mean I have to move somewhere quickly and I sometimes get stressed. Bells mean pressure and children running and they might push me over. I stand in my line and face forwards making sure I don’t look at anyone. The teachers shout about not talking and standing straight but I am doing those already and not sure what I should be doing differently. I turn to see if everyone else is doing what I am doing and now my class is pulled up for me facing the wrong way! I feel to blame. I feel so anxious. I feel different. 

Getting to class

I have to remember to put my bag one place, my packed lunch somewhere else and then hang my coat on the right peg. It can be confusing to remember all that while others are talking and moving all around me and the lights are so bright inside. Sometimes I wait until most of the others are in the class but then I worry I will get shouted at for taking too long! Sometimes I forget I have my school bag as it is on my back and I can’t see it! How can everyone else do this so quickly and easily and I can’t?


I listen so much. In fact I listen so hard to everything that sometimes I can’t do my work because I need to stop and listen to everything the teacher says in case she is talking to me. I want to write neat because I don’t want a row but then they say I need to work faster and I can’t do fast and neat. It is hard to concentrate with others so close to me. They move about and talk and turn pages and it is so distracting sometimes. The walls have so much stuff on them, I can hear the tap dripping and I can hear people walking about.

I am scared to talk in case I get in trouble.

Sometimes I just can’t do the work. Yesterday they wanted us to do a senses poem about fireworks. They told me to imagine being at a bonfire with fireworks but how can you do that if you have never been to a bonfire before? I haven’t. They told me to write about what I would touch but you are not allowed to touch fireworks so I can’t write anything. They told me to write what I can smell but all I can smell right now is disgusting school dinners and I can’t even spell that. I just leave that one too.

Then the teacher gets me in trouble for not doing the task. I want to cry. The tears won’t come out.


I don’t understand this bit. You play with toys so why call it playtime when there are no toys? Just call it ‘talk time’ or ‘stand in the playground time’ instead. I take my own toys out. Then it rains and we have to come inside and I can’t play with my toys and it is so confusing for me. I don’t like changing things. I get cold at playtime because it is hard to fasten my coat and if I take my time the people tell me to hurry up and go outside so I just can’t fasten it up now. I have one area I like to stand and play with my one friend. We play the same game every day. We like it that way. I want to play with others but I can’t because I don’t understand what they are playing. They don’t have toys. I can’t work out made up games like that.


Lunchtime is horrible. We have a short time for everyone in the whole school to eat and they want us all to line up and take turns and sit at huge tables with other children I don’t know. I just want to sit down and get time to eat and not have to hear chatter chatter and smell what everyone else has that I don’t like. It is far too noisy and busy and yet no-one will open my yoghurt or peel my banana. I feel lost and confused and just want out of there. 


I hate PE so much. I never know what we are going to do. Sometimes we do balls and sometimes running and sometimes sports. I hate it all. I know I can’t do it and people laugh. How can I catch a ball when there is so much else going on in the same hall at the same time? I can’t focus. I am so cold. My legs don’t like not having trousers on. My arms miss my cardigan so much. I once fell and hurt myself in PE so I don’t run now because running is dangerous plus they said at assembly to not run in school so I don’t run. Then they tell me to run and I want to ask ‘but you said not to run in school’ but my voice won’t work. I want to cry. The tears won’t come.

I do like school. I like learning and I like doing work. I like having a desk and I really want to be star of the week. I like the other children though I don’t know if they like me. I want to tell you about things that have bothered me like being told to work quicker or not eating. I am tired from it all and now I feel safe. I want to cry. This time the tears will come so please let them. 

I am ok. I just need to let the day at school wash away so I can rest.

School can be hard but then everyday can sometimes be hard when you have autism like me. 

95 thoughts on “A Day In Mainstream School For My Autistic Daughter

  1. Why make your daughter suffer through the stress and anxiety of mainstream school everyday rather than have her learn in a more positive environment tailored to her such as a base or support school?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Because there is no other school,suitable for her and so many if these issues like the bell and PE would still have to happen in a base anyway.
      Her school are brilliant and have already put more support in now they are aware of these issues but she needed to tell us before we could help her.


    • You do realise there are more children like this than there are specialised places for them? I’ve had it both ways with my children, and it is not as easy as your comment assumes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your daughter is brave and sweet but I’m going to agree with other posters in that I don’t think the level of stress she’s dealing with on a daily basis is doing much good.
    There are options, you have to push and be ruthless to get her the support she needs. I would look to other schools or home education. At the end of the day what schools say and what they do are two very different things. She looks worn out in those pictures and understandably so, I would consider your options carefully. I see a tired little girl who is most likely sick of suffering through days like that. As a mother to a child with additional needs I know how hard it is but you have to really think on is this, once that gap widens with her classmates in a couple of years then you’ll get added stress. I speak from experience and I hope this doesn’t come off as pushy but please consider things now,and have a plan ready to save yourself and your daughter from untold stress and heartache. I say it over and over again – do not buy all that the schools tell you. Mainstream schools don’t do enough, it’s impossible for them to focus on so many children let alone those with ads, ADHD etc. I wish your daughter all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I volunteer in her school so know that more help has been put in place. All professionals working with my family are aware of what she has written and doing all they can to support her. There are no other suitable placements and academically she is doing great so inclusion is what my authority does. They proportion of children like her in mainstream is increasing daily so I feel it is about helping her and working with her school to improve her current placement before any extreme measures regarding moving her are considered.
      Her school need a chance to fix what they never knew was broken until she told them and I am working with them to do this. She also has an eating disorder (as previous blogs will fill you in on) so often looks worn out and ill sadly.
      Thank you for reading and commenting


  3. My daughter is now 15. Your daughter’s experience reminds me so much of hers. Daughter still comes home and unloads her feelings about teacher’s telling off her or her classmates. I didn’t know it was autism until she was diagnosed at 8.5. She had a breakdown at 10.5 years. She went to a Special school at 11.5. It has been a bit easier at the Special school, but there are still times that, I feel, some teachers/LSAs don’t understand autism. You are fantastic for working at her school and helping the school adapt to her needs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a brave little 8yr old girl and written with such articulation and honesty… It reduces me to tears reading it as it sounds familiar to our family…. Thank you for highlighting what it is like in the eyes of a child with autism in school as we adults and parents might not truely understand what a challenge it is on a day to day basis for you… Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done, autism makes the world so difficult to live in.my son diagnosed at 23 had weathered exactly what was described all his childhood but never could explain until he went to college .just one too many changes and some maturity helped release the difficulties of a life time. But no one worked it out till I presented a dosier of his experiences during his growing up which he helped me to compile. Diagnosis brings relief when at last you know what the individual with it and the family are dealing with. Diagnosis is paramount and clear support is necessary. Good luck to all who deal with this condition daily .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That is so raw and honest. But I feel so sad for your daughter that the school is not supporting her in small ways which would make it easier for her. Little things like allowing her to get her bag on its peg and everything sorted before or after the other students to avoid the mele. A kind face to check if she needs help with her coat, a space to play with her friend where she feels comfortable. An aide to make sure her yoghurt is opened and banana peeled. Schools cannot change the overall fact they are loud busy places, but the right ones find ways to make the daily experiences less jarring.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Her story is so sad and so typical, it’s so close to my Son’s experiences in mainstream school, eventually he had to leave as the pressure took it’s toll. I hope that this circulates around her school. It’s these kind of testimonies that can help to change things. From my perspective I can only describe her experiences at school as abusive, she needs protection as well as understanding and acceptance.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This could have been written by my daughter. She has struggled in mainstream. Since going to secondary school things have deteriorated – she started to hurt herself, stopped eating. There’s a unit for autistic children attached to her school, we would like her to go there but school says they have to prove that what they’re doing hasn’t worked before they can ‘go to panel’ (whatever that means). Which part of my 12 year old saying she wants to die shows that mainstream is working? She’s not been in school for a month now. I’ve asked them to send work home. They haven’t. I’ve asked about home tuition temporarily on medical grounds ( backed up by our GP). Again this is a ‘ panel decision’ they say. She wants to learn, to go on to University. She is not being allowed. I’ve contacted SNAP, my MP, Assembly Members. Nobody is listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This could have been written by my nearly 8yr old girl, so many similarities. She comes home and rips off her toenails some days when it’s all been just too much
    I worry about secondary school so much, her school at the moment are really on top of most of it and really support her as much as they can
    PE days are by far the worst!
    Big hugs to your little girl x

    Liked by 1 person

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