Realizing Grades Aren't Everything as a Student With Autism


I struggled in school every single day. When I misunderstood something, I was told to ask for help. Yet when I did ask for help, I was told I was fine and I should stop worrying so much. Had I received my autism spectrum diagnosis when I was first assessed in sixth grade, I may not have struggled for the following four years until my official diagnosis in tenth grade. However, my diagnosis was originally dismissed, and instead I was seen as this anxious perfectionist who needed to learn how to relax more. But I couldn’t relax. I was still struggling. I was still misunderstanding things. I wasn’t misunderstanding just the material, but I also totally missed the bigger concept of learning how to learn.

When I was growing up, I didn’t strive to get all As simply because I felt I could achieve them; I did it because I thought I was supposed to get them. This came at a price: many, many meltdowns. And although my parents tried to explain to me it was okay to get lower grades as long as I was trying my best, I still thought that “trying my best” meant getting an A. Because that’s how people received awards and recognition. I hadn’t received any awards for my grades yet, so I thought I must not be doing my best. I still remember the awards ceremony and seeing my classmates getting awards. I would listen for my name, but I would never hear it. When I finally did receive an award such as honor roll, I wondered how I would ever keep up with the grades.

I realize now that awards aren’t always everything, and I understand that “trying my best” doesn’t always mean getting an A. At the same time, I am still trying to find that balance between “trying my best” and “perfectionism.” But kids are impressionable, and I don’t think it helps that schools give better and better awards to those with higher and higher grades. It’s great to acknowledge students, but make sure you are acknowledging them for the effort they put into trying to do their work, not just their ability to do it.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us an unexpected moment with a teacher, parent or student during your (or your loved one’s) school year. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

3 Tips for Living With a Roommate Who Has Autism

You are probably going to have to have roommates sooner or later. If you’re wondering “What do I do if one of my roommates has autism?” — these tips may help you! If you have videos you’d like to see made, please send me your ideas at [email protected]

Restaurant Owner Has Strong Message for Patrons Who Disrespected Autistic Waiter

Grenache restaurant in Manchester, England, wrote a “strongly worded” message on its Facebook page on Thursday, March 3, after a group of patrons made rude remarks about one of their employees, Andy Foster, who has autism. Mike Jennings, the owner of Grenache, told the Manchester Evening News the customers refused Foster’s service, and instead asked what [...]

To the Parents of Children With Autism: I See You

To the parents out there who spend their weeks consciously trying to attend to their child’s needs (special or otherwise) and still feel like at the end of the week it’s not enough – I see you. To the parents who cut their children’s sandwiches up in specific ways and serve them on certain plates and [...]

Why I’m Proud My Autistic Son Said ‘No’ Today

I’m so very proud of my son today. He had an outing planned with a local Scouts group; it was to be the first time he would go on a trip with them, and he was excited but also anxious. What would the other kids talk about?  Would he have fun?  Would they hold his hand [...]