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  • Writer's pictureAmy Quinn

Not-So-Special Education

I have noticed that when I left a school and moved to a different one, I missed the previous school a lot.

However, it's not because of the reasons you may be thinking of, such as leaving behind friends. It's more because of leaving behind the teachers and the things that I learnt in each school.

Ableism is rooted in the depths of society. It is taught first in education from the moment children start attending pre-school.

It is being separated from your age group because you need “special education,” due to different needs that you may have from your peers, such as developing the ability to talk later and not properly understanding what creative activities are supposed to be.

But even when children are put in “special education,” they are still good at other things, like having developed the ability to read before going to school.

It is this separation aspect of education that many children face. They learn differently than their peers, which leads to not being able to fit in with their peers when they join their peers in the “normal” classes and being bullied for having been in the “special education.”

Therefore, many of these children have difficulties fitting in with other children, which is the part that enables them to make friends and enable them to live potentially happier.

In addition, many of these children find that their teachers often become their best friends due to the fact that they find social situations with their peers difficult but not with their teachers. This then leads to other children thinking that they have become the “teacher’s pet” because they are hanging around the teacher the whole time and not actually their peers.

I love going to school and college because it is quite exciting to learn new things every time I’m in but it is one of the only things I like about school and college.

The subjects that I study at the moment are subjects that I'm actually interested in, as opposed to those that are requirements.

However, teachers often request that we do group work, which I don’t like if the individual work within the group has not already been assigned to us.

We would have to assign it among ourselves and communicate about what work we’re doing to each other. This is sometimes more difficult due to the communication skills involved in group work.

In my last school, there was a very set routine of what we had to do when, including homework, such as what homework was meant to be set on what night and when was the allocated time to do it.

Everything was routine set, except for a couple of hours of free time in the late afternoons, which was very good for me. I found out that I really liked this idea of having a routine for everything you do in the day.

But, I have since changed school and my routine is practically non-existent now, except for the timetabled lessons and the times when I get the bus. I often don’t know what to do with myself when I’m at home because I don’t have that set routine of what to do when.

Also, previously I was told exactly how much homework and extra work I should be doing each week for each class and when it should be but now, the teachers assume that all the students know exactly what to do for extra work and homework.

The routine being set for me meant that I didn’t have to do that and now I don’t know how to organise my time between college work and other things that I want to do.

However, these are only the things that I actually miss from school.

I don't have to endure all the social situations in school, within lessons, and during breaks and lunchtimes.

The lunchtimes and break times where I have often sat alone in the library because I didn’t know who to sit with or if I did sit with people.

I always knew that I was on the outside of the group; even though I tried to include myself, I couldn’t seem to join in the conversations and carry them on.

Even though most people would say that whenever they leave a school, they miss their friends the most, I would not say that because when I make friends in school, I’m not sure if they ever become my “real” friends.

Many people could help to make everyone feel accepted, included, and loved by friends. This would help many people to not feel alone. Instead, they would feel more accepted by the people around them.

If you think that there may be a chance that other people are feeling lonely, then try to talk to them and be friends with them.

Try to make simple conversations with these people at first to get to know them, which will help them not feel secluded.

I became best friends with a girl a couple of years older than me when I was on a school trip. I felt really lonely.

All the other people I knew wanted to have a party in their hotel room but I just wanted quiet.

She noticed that I wasn’t hanging out with many other people and made me feel like I had someone to talk to whenever I had anything on my mind.

This made me feel appreciated and that I wasn’t as lonely as I thought I was, because I discovered that there are people out there who can make people feel like they’re happy and content again.

Amy Quinn is an autistic 17-year-old student who understands that not all autistic people ‘look autistic’ or have the typical traits and is trying to raise awareness and of the difficulties surrounding this.

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