My Asperger’s diagnosis has brought many issues to the fore, not least my pitiful state of education.
Despite my love affair with learning, I have only the barest formal qualifications. I try not to be bitter about the delay in my diagnosis and that I received no support at school, either educationally, or pastorally: it’s hard to study when the girl behind is flicking Tip-Ex in your hair (again) and the teacher is laughing (again) because she’s too incompetent to do anything else.
I escaped the savagery of school at fifteen, with the minimum qualifications. My parents were horrified, in a predictably middle-class way, and packed me off to sixth-form college threatening withdrawal of all my human rights. Having had enough of being pushed around, I left home.
I stayed on at college though, and did manage to gain an A-level. You see, I still loved learning, it was just life I couldn’t cope with.
I lasted 13-months in the workplace (nuff said). After three years of self-employment, I gave in to the realisation that I had to get more qualifications; £90 a week was just not enough to live on. Even then.
And so to university. Again I loved the learning; but again I couldn’t hack the rest of it. I had a breakdown after three years, and dropped out with nothing to show for the bad taste in my mouth.
I’m still scraping a living. I sometimes wonder how different life would have been if I’d been diagnosed as a child, but I don’t believe in regrets; I believe only in moving forward from this point.
It’s taken me fifteen years this time, but I feel ready to give education another go; this autumn, my youngest will be starting school. And so will I. Wish me luck. I want to get it right this time.