Francesca Baird – Blogging About Autism: School Days (2)
Autism in females is not well understood: possibly because autistic traits manifest themselves differently in girls than they do in males and girls are better as masking their autistic traits. Therefore, it is of no surprise that many females go through their entire lives without a diagnosis. Through the story of my life (and my experience of living with autism), I hope to raise awareness of autism in females and remove some of the mental health stigmas and misconceptions attached to the label.
The following is a short extract from my book entitled. Label Me: My Journey Towards an Autism Diagnosis
Label Me, from chapter four. School Days
Being Bullied In The Art Class
I somehow managed to avoid being bullied during my first four years of secondary school, probably due to strength in numbers; I had at least one of my five friends in every class, shielding me from any bullying. However, things changed when I entered fifth year and made the brave decision to choose subjects based on my strengths (minimal) and not because my friends were taking them. This inevitably made me vulnerable. When I was not with my friends, I was shy and introverted. Physically a late developer, I was small right through secondary school, and this made me an easy target for bullying.
On the first day of Higher Art, I entered the classroom only to find that we had all been assigned seats. I was indifferent to this as I did not know anyone anyway. Unfortunately, my seat was next to a boy who quickly detected my vulnerabilities and made it his mission to assert his authority over me. It started with commands: “Go and get me the paint”. Initially I tried to ignore him. However, he became more assertive and his tone quite aggressive: “GO AND GET ME THE PAINT”. This was usually enough to make me comply. I was not strong enough to defend myself and I had no-one there to protect me. I didn’t want to tell the teacher either as I did not want to be perceived as a ‘snitch’ and I was worried that it would make the situation worse.
It seemed easier to give in to his demands rather than confront him, so I did everything he asked: “That is the wrong colour of paint, go and get me a different colour”. I sat at a table of four with two other girls and not one person defended me. In hindsight, I think he picked on me to impress a girl that sat opposite me as they started dating shortly afterwards.
Given free reign the bullying escalated and after a few weeks of the same silly comments and demands, out popped something new, a song this time: “I’m sitting beside a little dwarf doo doo…I’m sitting beside a little dwarf”. If I had been able I would have hit back with some witty remark. However, I didn’t have the words. Instead, I silently endured his silly demands, hurtful comments and fantastically original songs for the best part of a year, and it didn’t end there either…
Francesca Baird, 13 February, 2021
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