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?

Class

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.



Playtime

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

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. 

P.E

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. 

img_2186
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. 

Advertisements

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

  1. So insightful
    Luckily enough to my daughter (aspergers) is vocal like your daughter. It’s nice to hear it from another child’s perspective.
    How old is your daughter please?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This would break your heart 😦 it is breaking mine and i am not her parent so for you, it must be so much worse to hear this. It was good that Niomi could talk to you though. I hope her school puts something in place for her so that she can cope better. Bless her tender heart xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I had flashbacks from my own childhood. I had selective mutism (and possibly autism), 30 years ago in my country they didn’t know much about autism. I have lots of “sensitivities”, to sounds, to light, smells and taste but manageable. Reading this little girl’s point of view of life in general reminds me so much of myself as a child. Normal people will never understand, they “feel” differently. I have two little boys on the spectrum. (excuse my English, is my second language)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I know she says she likes school and likes to learn, but I can’t help feeling that she is under an awful lot of stress & wonder how that will play out in the longer term.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My son, 9, would not be able to articulate this but it is eye-opening (and I have to say quite distressing) to read what school is like for your daughter. Would you mind if I shared this with our school, and in particular my son’s new teacher please? Thank you so much for this post. Big love to your brave girl, and thanks for sharing her story. She has made a difference to this family for sure x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m printing this out to give to my daughter’s school. My 7yo has PDA and I imagine her days are very similar to yours. Well done for speaking out, you’re very brave x

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Broke my heart to read this. I worked in primary school for 22 years, and so much of this rings true as to what happens on a daily basis. Sadly, when you have 30 kids in a class, the extra attention that an autistic child may need gets lost. That’s why teaching assistants are so very important these days, they are the ones who can give the extra attention and make the autistic child feel safe and secure.
    Thank you for sharing this, I’m going to share it on my fb page. x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love this! My daughter cam home today and said she is good girl as she didnt cry today!!! Feel so bad sending her to something that makes her cry every day. She is autistic but has no real support at school as they feel she is fine! She is not, she just can’t tell you! This is a wonderful insight to what might be going in so thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My girl is 14 now but I felt very sad reading this as it took me right back to her primary days which were very stressful for her trying to contain all her frustrations and worries and then the explosion when she used to get home and felt safe enough to let go.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: A Day In Mainstream School For My Autistic Daughter - Mums Advice

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this. My son is 8 and is still waiting for his Autistic triage assessment ( been ongoing since he turned 6). He frequently refuses to do his work at school despite being extremely bright as he struggles to understand and process instructions especially in literacy. He hates making mistakes and doesn’t like to see crossings out on his work. As school won’t let him have a rubber he often gets frustrated as he can’t understand why and thus results in him screwing up the work started. He also doesn’t like PE as he struggles with change and asap to ng to teamwork as he feels out his comfort zone. I just want him to feel supported and happy at school.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing this. I am a teacher of an autistic girl. I do my best for her but I know it’s not good enough because I don’t fully k you for helping me to understand a little more.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So insightful. Thank your daughter for helping me, help other children, that feel like she does. I hope to be able to use what I have learnt from her in my classroom xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is an excellent insight into the day in the school life of a child with Autism, Thank you for sharing. We pulled our ASD son out of school at 7 as he was struggling and very unhappy. We are now homeschooling which is a much better option for us. Best wishes to you and your daughter and once again thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My son got star of the week last week. It was his first week in mainstream school and he has started a year later. I think it was just to try and make him feel welcome but he had to get up in front of the school at assembly to receive it and they all clapped and cheered for him. He was very upset about it all weekend. I wish I could just keep home some days but I know that won’t help anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I love how she’s been able to guide you and communicate with you how her day has been. I’ve often wished my girl could express herself like this, but sadly she can’t. It’s all guesswork on my part, but I’m pretty sure nearly all of that applies to her too! She is most definitely panicked by bells… thanks for sharing #sendbloggers x

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I really love this and how your girl lets you write about what life is like for her…this insight into school is so thought provoking and makes me wonder about my son as he is unable to communicate and reading this makes me wonder if he feels similar…great post as always xx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A very powerful blog through her own words. I wonder if things would improve for this sweet girl if her teachers read this. They need a glimpse into the world of an autistic child. To better understand and support her. Does she not qualify for a SEN TA? I know some mainstream schools have a quiet area for kids who get too overwhelmed. Like a little nook with sensory stuff, where she can lie down and rest. Get away from all the noise, smells a being rushed.

    Will be following your sweet girls journey x

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Very powerful read. Even though my son has Aspergers (He is now 20 years old and is doing Astrophysics at university) and also my husband (who was diagnosed at 40) It still makes me shudder when I think of their daily struggles. Thank you and your lovely little girl for sharing this with us and helping us NT people understand just that little bit more. I hope things get easier for her (and you) and that she finds her happy place to learn. My son used to bury himself in a book (and still does) xox

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is heartbreaking. My little boy is 4 and has just started school. He is just starting to say words so hopefully he will be able to tell me when he gets stressed out. He has autism and communicates by throwing things and get so frustrated. I really hope your daughters school help her. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This is heartbreaking and yet I feel it helps. My son struggles everyday in school and I still say that lack of info and awareness between staff causes so much stress for him and other children on the spectrum. I’m still torn between taking him out to homeschool as I think the level of stress in mainstream is too much for him. On another note I feel that good teaching assistants are so needed but not all are as wonderful as you’d hope. I’ve had incidents that have made him more anxious thanks to frankly uncaring TA’s. Anyway I wish your wee girl all the best, she’s braver than most.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Naomi that was exceptional. I hated the schools I went to. When my family visited friends and relations I reckon they thought I was trying to be awkward as my brothers enjoyed the school.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I feel for your daughter and am so glad she has your support. This description should be included in every teacher’s training although I know some teachers are not empathetic. I am even more concerned for secondary schools. The whole structure and noise is more chaotic and difficult for teachers to control with both teachers and children moving classrooms throughout the day and a looser connection with each individual teacher. It can be difficult to meet the needs of a child who can’t stay quiet and sit still because he has ADHD or numerous other personal issues as well as a child with aspergers needing time, order and room to think. Often we fail them both.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Thank you so much! The world needs more information like this to help people understand what it is like. My son (undiagnosed) had a complete breakdown at age 9 from his experiences at mainstream school.

    Like

  25. Thank you for sharing this. I work in an ASN school and support many children with autism. Please share this post with your daughter’s school so they can hear her voice and support her appropriately.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s perspective. I am a paraprofessional who works with autistic students in the public school system. Reading your article, gives me insight on how difficult it is for the students. I need to keep this in mind throughtout my work day. Does your daughter have the opportunity to have an aide with her in the classroom?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. This is an amazing insight into school life for our autistic kids. Makes me sick to my stomach to think about the stress they are under every single day! Mainstream just doesn’t help for a lot of kids like mine. Very courageous for your daughter to explain herself and her world so eloquently.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Pingback: Mainstream School and Autism – Options for College Success Blog

  29. My son is 10, he really appreciated Naomi’s take on food & eating. I just mentioned she had written more and he just ran to the living room and sat down eagerly to hear her take on school. He has been tearful all afternoon, he attends mainstream school as well.
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  30. What a brave and honest post, thank you.
    I hope it’s ok for me to share this on my Facebook teaching page for other teachers to read. It’s so important for people to understand what school can be like for some of our students. My wish is that in future, better understanding will mean that children have an easier time in school.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. What a wonderful girl you have and so important to share and record her anxieties. I am a parent to a 6yr old daughter with ASD and a teacher. Raising awareness is vital so thank you so much for sharing this. I have shared it with many colleagues and friends xx

    Liked by 1 person

  32. You are an amazing young lady ,to cope as well as you do within a mainstream school ,and to be able to share your experiences and inner most feelings shows great courage &fortitude .Every teacher and all staff within every school should read your diary, it gives a valuable insight which needs addressing asap.Many issues you face could be addressed,why is it only down to the person with additional needs to adjust some responsibility on staff to adjust or at least to be aware of the pupils needs as an individual.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. i used to be a teacher in a UK state school! Now substitute in an American high school. Mostly in special needs classes.Autism is NOT the most limiting need in these classes.These iare a dedicated class for children with many types of difficulties, but they are integrated in the normal classes, where appropriate, where they are able to suceed and have positive feedback. I find this is a positive way forward. Many of our students have gotten decent paid jobs, for instance, as front door greeters at very high end retail stores and do so successfully. If you want to weep , watch a child whom a teacher identified Was very good at weightlifting, and who won the special Olympics medal in that section, be celebrated by 2,000 students in his state school, standing up and cheer him in assembly !!! Some children will never be able to cope with the “normal “school day, rather tthe school should find out how to meet their needs in some special classes and what classes they can be integrated into and be successful!

    Like

  34. I have 2 children with Asperger’s both are very different in terms of need. My little girl is 9, she has just read your daughter article and said wow Mum there is someone just like me! She got comfort reading that there are people who feel the same way, she does so thank you for that. In relation to teacher Linda above… Most of our Children have aspirations, but many teachers don’t look hard enough to unlock their very special potential, some have the ability to go beyond being a door greeter in a shop. It’s that potential that needs to be nurtured, my son found it in a specialist secondary school for Autism. He has progressed from being the child who needed help in mainstream to being the house captain in school, and having just completed a B tech in media studies at 14. There are no 2 children on the spectrum the same so therefore there is no quick fix… You simply have to look inside and find a way to help them to find their comfortable way to learn. Mainstream is often to busy with huge class sizes to do this.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Could you notnshowmthismto her class teacher so that she has a better understanding of what it is like for your daughter. She sounds like a clever, brave little girl.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s