Francesca Baird: blogging about autism – School Days

francesca with mum and sister. sm

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

In the classroom, I spent most of time in my own head, consumed by my thoughts and unable to digest the teacher’s words. I felt out of my depth, crippled with social anxiety and unable to focus on anything external to my own mind. Inadequate and inferior to my young adult peers, I felt out of place. I was a lost little girl, desperately trying to find her way in life. I didn’t know anything about anything, and I am sure everyone else was aware of my stupidity. If the teacher asked me a question, I was not prepared to embarrass myself by pretending I knew the answer. Even if I had an inkling, I was unlikely to risk being wrong. Consequently, “I don’t know” was a typical response. I looked on as the rest of the class, raised their hand, ready to answer what I can only assume was a very easy question. My only saving grace was my ability to study in the comfort of my home. Not only could I retain information for just as long as I needed to answer exam questions, but I could also reiterate what I had learned under exam conditions, and successfully. Through this method of learning, I was fortunate enough to pass all my exams, both at Standard Grade and at Higher level.

The only subject I particularly enjoyed in school was maths – a subject that has an answer, which is not down to interpretation. I would quite happily spend time trying to solve an equation and felt a great sense of satisfaction when I discovered the answer. I could easily get absorbed in maths, not giving up until the question was answered and understood. In contrast, English was by far my worst subject at school. The reasons for this are: my language is restrictive, I have no imagination and poetry is something I have never understood. Writing essays was, and always has been a struggle for me. My thoughts are a jumbled mess, and I think this comes across in my writing style. I could cope with the basics but as soon I was asked to use my imagination or use descriptive language, I found I was out my depth. Questions that required analysis and interpretation of text were completely outwith my remit. As such, my essays were often short and to the point, lacking any real substance. Despite my failings, I managed to scrape through Higher English – I don’t know how but I won’t complain.

Francesca, 7 February, 2021

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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