One of the questions often asked is what advice we would give our younger selves. A friend of mine said that I had become that teacher and I wish to provide some context.

I remembered my Year Three Teacher writing on my report card that I was easily led and needed to learn for myself to avoid getting into trouble. I still remember my orientation day at my first primary school, a school which, only a few years earlier, was a country style one teacher school contained in one building. A number of my colleagues from kindergarten went to the same primary school, but we were put into different classes. Some of them moved on and made new friends, but one kid from kindergarten was in my class and we became friends for no other reason than we were both in the same class.

This particular kid did things that were against school rules and would push me to follow suit. The teacher we had that year was a bully and her insistence upon coming to school, apart from a few days when she lost her voice, was not out of dedication but to avoid being stuck at home with her infant daughter. She wasn’t a good teacher, either.

There were several times when, if I had been the teacher and the student was my younger self, I would have said, “Please stay back after class, I want to talk to you.” Then, I would have said, “Look at your spelling results. You’re very clever. Look at your grammar results, you love same sound words, and you love being able to solve mysteries with words. Now, let’s try to use some of those strategies to solve a few problems. Most of the time, you know what the school rules are. Now, do you think that this boy who is asking you to do things or pushing you to, is being a friend? Let’s have a read of Chapter 15 of Danny the Champion of the World. See how Sidney Morgan, when Captain Lancaster caught Danny giving him an answer said that it was his fault? Do you think that this boy would say, “Sorry, it was my fault.”? “No.” “That’s right. He probably wouldn’t. I know you’re being picked on, and I know that you’re thinking, “Oh, I need to have some friends,” but he’s no better than the bullies.”

“Now, we’ll come to another one. You wrote some lines for your friend. Why?” “Because he told me to.” Rather than, “I’m sick of this, because he told me to,” I would have said, “Okay, that was for him. Do you think that was being a friend? No, it wasn’t, he was just using you to get him out of trouble.”

Nobody is worth having as a friend if they’re not genuine. A person who tries to make you break the rules is not a friend, so, I want you to be strong and stand up to him. You might not have friends, but maybe, just maybe, if some of the others see you not being pushed around, they won’t push you around.

People sometimes say, “Oh, we tried to tell you that,” but sometimes, they didn’t tell you in a way that you understood. Or maybe, by criticising your hand-picked friend, they pushed you closer to them. Sometimes, rather than giving advice, people should help you see for yourself where you’re going wrong.



Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.

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Peter Wynn

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.