By Maria from Murrumbeena
Being neurologically diverse myself -- I am a high-functioning autistic -- I have some sympathy with the girl below. I too realized from an early age that I was different and found normal classrooms stifling.
But schools are tasked with all sorts of requirements so asking for special attention to non-neurotypicals may be piling too much onto them. Certainly, school health personnel should be trained to diagnose and communicate such abnormalities but after that I think the main burden of coping has to fall on the pupil and his/her family
When I was younger, I often thought something was wrong with me. Why was I so different from my classmates? I was made to feel broken.
I wasn't struggling with schoolwork; I love to learn. I just hated the environment. Noisy open plan classrooms, the expectation to concentrate for long periods and being confined to a desk.
But in year 8, I received a diagnosis of ADHD, Anxiety and Sensory Processing Disorder. A huge wave of relief came over me.
Imagine your brain as roads and each thought is a car. "Neurotypical" brains have traffic lights and road signs to keep thoughts organised and to stop the distracting thoughts from going on the main roads. ADHD brains don't have that.
So, there's a lot more cars on the main roads and the unnecessary information doesn't get filtered out.
But it turns out, I was not alone. After being unable to focus in class and turned away from the wellbeing office as they were full, I saw a year seven girl also waiting around.
She told me she had ADHD and anxiety and was being sent home. Although she wanted to stay and learn. She was a younger reflection of me.
This encounter flipped a switch inside my head.
I want high schools to start taking mental health and neurodiversity seriously. I'm going to continue raising awareness, educating, and advocating for fellow neurodiverse brains.
I will finish high school and get my education, even if it is the hard way.
To anyone like me, you are not alone. You do not need to be fixed because you are not broken. The system that is educating us is broken.