Hello online world. I have missed you and your cathartic nature.
Well…it’s been over a year! So much has changed yet so much is still the same. But I’m only going to focus on the biggest new thing which I think is going to drive my further blogs: I am training to be a drama teacher.
*Dun, dun, dun* dramatic music
What?!!!! Is the response I expect to get when people know I’m autistic and training to be a drama teacher. I am wanting to teach a subject that constantly stretches and forces me to look directly in the face of all (well a lot of) what I find difficult. Though this is true I take a different stance. This is the subject that saved my life taught me things I never thought I’d learn. But this is not what this post is about today. Today I write because I want to come back to blogging. I think this year more than ever I am going to need it. An outlet for all my thoughts that cloud my brain that others will simply not understand. So I’m going to take you through my first couple of weeks as a teacher trainer.
I step foot in my new school for Inset day. My heart is beating rapidly and I am already looking around at the new sights, smells, noises and already looking for my nearest exit. Though the feelings are strong I quickly find my mentor for my teacher training year. A small, positive, energetic woman and full of life. Nerves kick in as I am a gangly, pessimistic, lethargic person and feel like I’m not going to fit in. Though I had met her before on interview I still was nervous as this was my first proper day. I lucked out to be honest. Everyone at the school is lovely, kind and welcoming. I feel oddly relaxed, which then in turn makes me nervous.
But something is hanging over my head. AUTISM. It’s all my brain can think about during my next couple of days there. I like to be open with it otherwise it becomes a secret, something to be ashamed of, it makes all my symptoms worse then. But how to do it? How to ‘come out’? I compare it to that because it is not something people will assume about you because the assumption is that everyone is neurotypical because that’s the majority. So I plod along walking around with this secret dragging behind me. Thinking every conversation is going to be about how weird I am or different I am. Eventually I pluck up the courage and get advise from HR then I tell everyone who is in frequent ‘contact’ with me. So I awkwardly declare ‘I’m autistic’ and the overwhelming response is ‘okay let us know if there’s anything we can do for you’ (that is paraphrasing of course). Suddenly that weight once dragging behind me is gone. I feel like the luckiest person in the world because that could have gone so differently and I understand how often it does go poorly. I realise that actually it’s quite sad that I should feel lucky about fair treatment which is the law. Anyway it doesn’t all stay unicorns and rainbows.
Bringing it to present week I have been at the university doing my theory induction. This was always going to be the test for me. A group of my peers. I find the most difficult interactions to be the ones with my peers because the rules are so abstract. With people in a higher position then you (like a boss) the rules are clear, I have to be professional and listen to what they say and articulate myself in a professional manner. With people who are in a lower position (students) the rules are also clear, I have to be direct and clear, giving instructions and expecting them to listen, etc. But with peers there are no such rules like this, everyone is on an even playing field and I just don’t get that. What boundaries can I cross or not? Peers involve having the ability to understand individuals more so than when socialising with people of a certain group or rank. If that’s makes sense. So I do the whole ‘coming out’ thing again but this time it was during a sharing activity so it fit in quite well, seamlessly done. Though draining I knew it was the right thing to do. So I think got this all will be fine, no anxiety for me. Not quite how it went down.
So I’m at uni and I have a little ‘moment’. It’s Friday and all I have had for the week is groups of people talking, talking, talking, noise, noise, noise!! I’ve been having headaches for the past couple of days due to sensory overload and I am sitting outside (during one of the breaks) with my head in my hands trying to block at least one sense. I then hear my drama trainee group come towards me and ask what’s wrong. At this point I have lost the power of speech, that tends to happen when I’m experiencing overload speech is the first thing to go for me. Instead of ignoring me one asks if I want a hug. I nod. One of the girls then hugs me doing a circular stroking motion on my back, that wasn’t necessarily the most enjoyable thing but it was the thought and I got used to the sensation after a while. Anyway, the point is my peers were lovely to me. It made me feel reassured that maybe I will be able to get on with peers. Most of my friends at this point were usually a lot older then me or is higher positions at work but for like the first time ever I thought maybe I could be in a group of my peers who were going to accept me, for me.
Quite a long post, sorry but before I went on I wanted to establish context to my next posts and also get this off my chest. I am lucky but declaring my autism is just the first step. There will be lots of new challenges; how to manage my autism in the classroom/staffroom/office etc, how to create meaningful connections with the people I’m about to embark on this training journey with, how to manage my anxiety ensuring I am taking care of my wellbeing. When I decided to write this post I genuinely thought it was going to be quite negative but actually what it has done it made me reflect and show me the good and what I have achieved. This is why I blog to help put into perspective my life and I hope to continue doing so while also reading others. I hope I have time for this and I want to thank this online community that I can always fall back on.
Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it. Peace out!