Shane’s story of being autistic in school: ‘I was the odd one in the class’:

Being autistic in school: ‘I was the odd one in the class’:

Tania’s note: My ASD youngest often complains to me about hearing only the parent voice and not the young person (I'm still waiting for their own contribution 😉 ). However, late last year, we both went to Ambitious About Autism's "We Need An Education" debate. I was so impressed by their Youth Patrons, I invited them to become columnists as a voice for young autistic people on SNJ. I’m really thrilled that this is the first post from one of the youth patrons, Shane Gunesh, a 19-year-old student from Enfield. Today, Shane talks about his time at school and how he coped with the difficulties of being in class. Please do share these articles with your schools, to increase teachers' understanding of the young person's experience.

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No one really wanted to play with me in mainstream school...

My name is Shane Gunesh and I’m 19 years old. Being autistic hasn’t been easy for me. I have always found it very challenging to talk to people and make friends.

I was always the shy little boy who spent most of the time with adults. Children didn’t want to play with me. I didn’t know how to play with them. When I was at mainstream school, I would spend most of the time with the support teacher during school trips. This made me feel sad to always stay with adults.

No one really wanted to play with me. Some children seemed to avoid me.

I can also get laughed at because I don’t always say things that make sense. Once, I was asked to watch a movie about a Volcano in geography and comment on it. I said I could see a “flood” coming out of the mountain rather than “lava”. Everybody laughed at me.

Shane Gunesh
Shane Gunesh posing at the recent Ambitious About Autism “We Need an Education” debate

Even my support assistant said in the annual review meeting that if I never heard about lava then I would not be able to do the work in a mainstream school; my level of understanding was too low.

I was the odd one in the class who always needed help with my work. I find it difficult to process the language and most of the time I don’t really know what to say to people.

I'm scared of saying the wrong thing...

I have often seen in some of my reports that I am contented to stay on my own. The truth is that I don’t really know how to start a conversation. This is too scary for me. I am scared that I will say the wrong thing and people will laugh at me.

As I am growing up, I now am finding it a bit easier to respond to people. Since I’ve joined the Youth Council at Ambitious about Autism, I have had the chance to express my views. everyone listens to me and this makes me feel good about myself.

I have set up some challenges for myself this year. I want to travel independently on the bus to some places and find my way back home. It is going to be very challenging, because I always get very confused when there are too may diversions or changes.

Because of my autism, there are many things that I can’t do or understand. I am a slow learner, but I know that: “If I believe I can, then I will”

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SOme of the patrons at Ambitious About Autism
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Ambitious About Autism Youth Patrons

Youth Patrons at Ambitious About Autism
Ambitious about Autism’s Youth Council is a group of autistic 16-25 year olds who meet at least four times a year to discuss and plan campaigns, events and consultations. The Youth Council make sure that all the work we do at Ambitious about Autism reflects the views and needs of autistic children and young people.
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