Updated: Aug 26, 2021
When I used to be in school, I loved the structure of it. It gave me a really solid routine and it helped a lot to sort myself out. Previous to this I’d been at home and I’d been in a really bad place – trying to recover from what I was told was a nervous breakdown. But, when school holidays came around I sort of fell apart. The only other routine I’d had recently was when I was recovering, so I was just in bed a lot, really depressed and scared to go out etc – not knowing what was wrong with me, so I just started to slip back into not doing anything. The longer the school holiday, the worse it got, and the harder it was to go back to school again. I often had the first day back off school because I’d panicked and didn’t make it all the way there, or sometimes, not even out of the front door.
So, as you can imagine, the summer holiday was a nightmare for me. Especially as my only proper friend went to his family’s ‘second home’ type thing, for pretty much the entire summer. I started finding it difficult to sleep properly, especially at night when I was supposed to be asleep. I tried to fall into a ‘home’ routine, and went to town with my Mum – which wasn’t always helpful as I panicked when I saw people from school. I don’t like seeing people whom I only see in one place, somewhere else as I don’t know how to talk to them about anything else other than about things to do with where I normally see them. Example; I could talk to people from school, about school, at school. Line drawn, can’t speak to them anywhere else about normal things.
Anyway, the summer when I was trying desperately to get a specific diagnosis, I’d been at school, two years behind, doing my GCSE’s for one year and it had gone pretty well. Aside from the uniform; I didn’t like the jumper, which was fine when I first went because it wasn’t cold enough, but then in winter they said I could wear a plain black one (rather than the burgundy, logo one). I also didn’t like wearing the shirt on its own, because it was; see through, baggy, uncomfortable when tucked in and the logo rubbed on my skin and it was itchy. So they let me wear a plain white linen shirt instead. And they let me wear slightly different trousers because I don’t like the material of normal school trousers. I didn’t look too different, and still looked smart. But, when the school got a new head teacher, he wanted me to wear proper uniform, and as the head of the special needs department had (for some reason) said that having issues with materials didn’t come under my diagnosis, I needed to get a letter from a professional saying otherwise.
So, instead of being diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, I needed to be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and to have it noted that it is typical to have sensitivity to certain materials. Which is what I busied myself with during the school holiday. I also came across a pitfall when I realized that, at 17, there wasn’t much in the way of help. I wanted someone to help me sort out my disability related problems with school and to help me fill out my Disability Living Allowance forms. There’s a group that offer help called the Adults with Asperger’s Team. But, they could only deal with people from age 18, and their children’s unit, with people up to 16. I don’t know if this is a common thing across the board, but to me that seems pretty shocking for 17 year olds… Anyway, I did get my diagnosis and everything, but the school didn’t budge and I ended up leaving. Luckily, I did some part time study for a bit – long enough to come out with a B in English GCSE and a C in Math GCSE.