Why Schools Aren’t an Emotionally Safe Space for the Neurodivergent

Yesterday, my new friend came over to help me clear out the gymnastics room. She was in awe of @PanKwake. The videos she makes. The Jumping Clay sculptures she creates. The various rooms in our @HomeCrazzyHome that she has designed. And just her ability to articulate her thoughts and feelings.

I know all this, but sometimes even I forget how truly exceptional my daughter is. Not merely as an autistic person or a teen, but as a human being. Period. I know of few adults who know themselves as well as this not-quite fifteen-year-old.

That was not the road she was on when she went to school. Nor the outcome I have seen for other autistic and PDA young people who go to school.

Your child needs to get over it. She needs to grow a thicker skin. That is just how the world works.

Those are almost the exact words that we heard from the Early Years Head when we complained that PanKwake was being bullied.

And when I said…But you have a Zero-Tolerance policy.

Her response was….That is just political correctness.

As angry as those words still make me a decade later, I actually owe her gratitude. That was the moment that PanKwake’s father stopped objecting to home ed. And sent us down this yellow-brick road of Radical Unschooling and self-directed learning.

Here is the truth…

All my years of involvement in numerous special needs and home ed activities,

I have never met a secondary (Junior High and High School for my American readers) that was NOT bullied at school.

I have a met a handful of primary (elementary) ones with really supportive and truly inclusive schools that were not. But they were the exception not the rule.

PanKwake’s story is much more common. She was bullied so badly in RECEPTION (nursery school/kindergarten – Americans) that I lost my child. Her self-esteem was so low that she asked me dozens of time every single day…

Mommy, am I dumb?

Mommy, am I stupid?

Mommy, am I ugly?

It took me almost two years to restore her self-esteem. Two years of home education to rebuild her self-image…and give me back my bright, happy little girl that I had entrusted to these people.

I shudder to think where she would be, what she would be like, if I had not made the decision to home educate her. But even outsiders, like my friend, make comments that confirm my belief…

@PanKwake would not be the happy, self-motivated,a dn compassionate human being she is today, if we had left her in school.

When you choose to home educate your neurodivergent young person expect to hear this one A LOT…

Yes, but what about socialization? They need to learn to interact with other people.

Yes, yes, they do. But school is no place to learn socialization…not even for neurotypicals and certainly not for neurodivergents. 

At school, bullies rule. And sometimes the biggest bully is the teacher or the head teacher. They do their best to intimidate not just our young ones but parents as well.

The other thing that PanKwake’s dad and I were told during THAT meeting…

Bullying is the way things work in this world.

Honestly, at almost sixty, I continue to struggle the trauma inflicted upon me by my own experience with schools. The feelings of inadequacy and the self-doubt that twelve years of bullying instilled in my mind remains one of my biggest hurdles to being the person I meant to be, the one I am inside. I fight that feeling every time I put myself out there. ‘Do they really like me?’ For someone who was repeatedly tricked and betrayed by bullies every time I tried to make friends, it is something that follows you for the rest of your life.

But not in our world. Not at this #HomeCrazzyHome.

I hope my words have painted a clear enough picture for you. The difference between the delightful young woman I am proud to call my daughter now…the one we had a decade ago who asked those horrid questions…and the other neurodivergent young people we know who are in school or have just come out…is heart-breaking.

No, schools CANNOT or will not meet the needs of our #Neurodivergent little humans -Emotionally either.

Published by Tara Cox

Writer of Literary Erotica Real-life, hot sex, deep meaning... In my day job, I am homemaker, home educator, urban farmer, and homesteader at our @HomeCrazzyHome.

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