Why Kids with Autism and ADHD Rarely Thrive in School
by Lisa Jo Rudy
You get up in the morning, and are transported to work at exactly the same time every day, along with up to thirty other people. Before you even get on board the bus, you know that many of the people on the bus will avoid you. Others make a lot of noise, or sing, or throw spitballs – and that’s before your first cup of coffee.
Once at work, you have not one but possibly as many as six or eight different bosses. Each has a slightly different set of rules and expectations, which you must memorize (if you don’t, you’ll receive a poor review, which has the potential to negatively influence your entire life).
Each of these bosses expects you not only to do the work assigned, but to do it well – even if it’s in an area you find most difficult. No, you can’t just be an accountant because you’re good at math – you must also show your ability in the advertising department and in sales, and on the production line. Of course, you are required to join the company softball team (and you’ll be jeered if you miss on the ball). On your “off” hours, you’re scrutinized for your ability to get along with your workmates, and if you fail you will have to practice your “social skills” on a daily basis.
If you don’t understand what one of your bosses is saying, you may raise your hand (in front of 20 judgemental peers) and ask a question. But no, there’s really no time to ask a question privately. So if you didn’t understand the first time, you have a choice of humiliating yourself now, or later.
No, you may not eat lunch outside the office lunch room. Nor may you take coffee breaks.
Once at home, the workday isn’t over. There are – almost every day – pages of additional work to complete before you may relax. And often there are extra assignments that relate, not to your area of strength or expertise, but to your boss’s expectations.
Add to all this the reality that, while your workmates may find all of this easy (and some of it fun), you find a good deal of it confusing, overwhelming, or intolerably dull. Yet your parents, whom you love, are sure that this experience is wonderful, and that your ability to perform is the most important thing in the world. In fact, they’ll do anything in the world to be sure you succeed in your workplace – even if it means you miss out on anything you might actually WANT to do.
Like reading a comic book.
Or joining a fantasy game online.
Or becoming terrific at karate.
Or being outside.
Or even hanging out with people who are older, or younger, or different, from you.
Adults forced to live in such an uncongenial world would surely find themselves anxious, depressed, and rebellious. Why wouldn’t a child feel the same?