This is a topic that I very rarely discuss in life. It is about a certain condition which relates to certain difficulties. It is quite a sensitive topic, because X% of the world, including myself, obtain the condition. This is known as Asperger’s, a mild relation to autism. This had quite a large effect on my life. I didn’t know I had it until my teens, when I asked my parents about why I’ve been involved in certain events.
At various schools, I was involved in a unit known as ‘Speech & Language’, in which the teachers are also learning supporters. This would make sense. But my school life was pretty over limiting. For example, I had made plenty of friends at school and because I lived too ridiculously far away, there was always transportation arranged for special needs. This meant that there were always strict schedules and I never got much time to hang around with mates after school or goof off in the nearby villages.
I went to two primary schools; the first one was Barley Croft in Beaumont Leys, Leicestershire, which I do not obtain much memory of or remember many people from. What I remember was that we were always in the same classroom and we never got to know many of the non S&L students. Actually there was one event, whilst at this school, I particularly remember; Michael Wilson, also known as Cobra from Gladiators (that’s a UK based TV entertainment programme), once came to give a speech at the school. The speech was epic, though I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I still own a photograph of him with his signature. But apart from that, I don’t remember much about the school, with the exception of that event.
The second school I attended was Glenfield, which I liked better; I got to experience more classrooms. As a Year 4 student, I was in a mainstream English/Maths. This was repeated when I was in Year 6, but added to that, each Monday and Tuesday afternoon saw my sessions with a mainstream Year 6 class. Unfortunately there were still some limitations, i.e. the transport to/from school and I felt different from the other students in my classroom; some of them would act obnoxiously and I attempted not to have anything to do with it.
When I moved onto Stonehill High School, my middle school which was based in Birstall, this demonstrated a definite interaction with the mainstream students; this occurred during many of the lessons I had. However I felt that the S&L faculty was overprotective of those with learning difficulties. For instance, we were told that we could only go outside during break-times if there was somebody to accompany us. I would say that is rather extreme, because there were times when it was a beautiful day and I wanted to receive fresh air and because the area was the S&L centre and it was quite a small and crammed area. Luckily, I did find people to go and play outside with at times and I found this more fun, but this didn’t always happen.
Longslade, which has always been my favourite school, demonstrated my increased freedom. I interacted with the students better, no matter their conditions. At times, anybody could go out to the local village, but only at break-times (also know as recess) and, if you were a sixth form student, during free periods. I still had special needs transport arranged before the start and at the end of school times. Plus, I had what you call ‘life skills’ lessons. These were my least favourite subjects; the reason was because there were particular topics covered that I felt I already learned as an elementary school student, i.e. 12-hour clocks, problems demonstrated via pictures, etc. Plus I felt like I was missing out on more exciting stuff; originally I had picked to study Geography as a humanities subject, but then I was told I had to do life skills. It was a shame, because I would’ve learned about various cultures around the world. I couldn’t study Religious Education either for the same reason. However I feel that I have achieved plenty of independence and responsibility. This is one of the reasons why I owe so much to Longslade and describe it as my favourite school. I owed so much to the school I once attended an event which celebrated fifty years of its origin. If there was one example of independence I gained, that would be a field trip in Saltzburg, Austria, that I attended; the occasion was to take skiing lessons.
After completing A-Levels, I attended two colleges and hoped that I would feel more independent and forget about my Asperger’s. But it could not be escaped; for each lecture, I had a support assistant sit near me to take notes and I remain grateful that they were only attempting to help my understanding of each topic, but sometimes I found it embarrassing and slightly distracting; sometimes I would jot certain notes down while taking in what the lecturer said and the support assistant would tell me not to write something down and as a result, I would lose my place. Luckily, when I attended university, this did not happen. I was happier, because I wanted to experience lectures without the help of special needs. This equalled independence and fewer distractions from certain things.
So throughout the years, despite my condition, I have experienced friendships with various people, not just those who are autistic. I had very few enemies, but that’s part of life. I try not to let my condition get into my way, but there are times when people keep bringing it up, which leads to the result of not being able to escape from it. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this, but there are people who refer to people with Asperger’s as ‘retards’ (I’m sorry I had to say that), but I am strong and there is the old saying that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones’. Added to that, names cannot hurt me. There were times when I was prone to lose my temper whenever I was provoked, but I have gotten over it.
After all, those with Asperger’s have made a valid contribution to society. Apparently, even numerous celebrities contain Asperger’s . These include;
• Albert Einstein
• Gary Numan – the synth-pop musician
• Dan Ackroyd – film actor whose works include The Blues Brothers, Trading Places and Ghostbusters
• Woody Allen – jazz musician and film director; one of his films being Sleeper. Apparently he prefers showers with plug-holes in the corner rather than the middle
• Steven Spielberg(?) – my personal favourite film director of all time. It is hinted that he does/did haveAsperger’s .
And yet, all these people have achieved huge successes in life, so one cannot automatically assume that all the autistic are ‘retarded’. Retarded means backward in mental or physical development. Asperger’s is just a mild learning difficulty, so there is a huge difference.