Hi, this is something that I have kept secret from all but my close family and it is something I have only realised now is worth discussing:
I was diagnosed with Asperger's aged 11 and throughout most of my life I learnt to cope with without not a lot of people knowing. I went to University and achieved a good class Honours degree with the aim of pursing a career in teaching - basically things were going well in my life and I felt in complete control with what was going on with regards to my autism.
However I attended a different university to study my teacher training course and I was bullied by the course leader for the programme - she constantly berated me in front of my peers and at one time in front of a colleague in an open, public area of the university due to my 'behavioural mannerisms' and 'lack of professionalism' on campus. needless to say I did not graduate from the course due to thos reasons despite my willingness and determination to complete the course.
However worse was to come, I finally became brave enough to make a formal complaint to the university as I felt strongly that her behaviour had impacted my life and left my self-esteem shattered; however, the university refused to accept responsibility and did not conduct a thorough investigation stating that I had 'misinterpreted' the behaviour of the employee.
I complained further to the OIA and independent adjudicator to review the case in which I subsequently discovered that the same employee had made fictitious lies about my conduct and behaviour when I was her student and even falsely accused me of being directly involved in another investigation when another student had complained about her behaviour.
There were also other members of staff who had written statements on behalf of the University's employee in which they attacked me by claiming that I was 'rude' 'aggressive' and at times confrontational. One member of staff even said that I 'asked questions that were obvious to other students with a more professional outlook.' and another further stated that I 'lacked the ability to take on feedback and advice given to me.'
Needless to say that the OIA investigated the case and found the university at fault for their actions but I never received any form of apology or any remorse from the member of staff that bullied me and knocked my self-esteem.
I currently attempted to undertake a masters degree to pursue a new career but due to my financial circumstances based on my experiences at that previous university I am unable to cope with completing the course.
At this moment I have felt the lowest I ever have in my life - and I have often contemplated the thought of suicide because of the way that university treated me during my time there.
I hope this story reaches out to people so that people can realise that even to this day the ignorance that exists in society and lack of understanding about people like me who require additional support that we are left to suffer. I wish to tell people about my story so that other younger people with ambitions of studying at university never go through the experiences that I had.
I’m sorry to hear about the problems during your education.
Personally, I always tell people I am autistic if there is going to be any sort of ongoing professional or personal relationship. I don’t see it as a dirty secret, but I am 62 and past caring about the opinions of idiots.
Don’t give give up on your aspirations. If you are 25 or under you may find some useful information here: https://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/search/google/graduate%20schemes
Different levels of help are available according to postcode. A good place to start may be an advocacy service, try here: https://www.pohwer.net/contact
All the best in moving forward, Graham.
Many thanks for your response it really helps to feel I am not alone
I have aspirations for what I want to do with my life since the dreadful experiences however financing and personal circumstances are the barriers for me at the minute so I don't know how I would get around this
I don’t know if you are still hoping to be a teacher or have your mind on another career now. You could always study at home, so when you are able to continue your education you may well be allowed to shorten your attendance time and hence the fees.
There are a lot of free text books available from here: https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks
There is also the possibility of Phd by publication: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2018/08/20/a-phd-by-publication-is-a-great-way-to-build-your-academic-profile-but-be-mindful-of-its-challenges/
I find learning and trying to get my head around complicated subjects and ideas, help me from falling below the water line.
If it would be possible to potentially explore another route into it then it is still something I would love to explore. I have dreamt of doing it since I was 14 years old and my whole life has been dedicated to helping and supporting young people.
My masters was to have the ambition of going into clinical or educational psychology however due to my circumstances I have had to suspend my studies to work and reflect on how I will achieve this ambition.
A friend of mine became an educational psychologist at the age of 37. He went to night school and studied at home.
I was living at home whilst doing my masters but again due to financial reasons I cant complete my masters right now
I hope to do so relatively soon and get a good degree so I can get into it.
Have you looked into schools direct if you are still considering teaching? You train on the job and many (not all) of the posts are salaried. There would be a small amount of university involved but that is only a day a week at most. The people I know that did it found the courses very supportive. Dont let that experience put you off. Not all universities are like that. Good luck with what ever you decide to do.
Hi, thanks for your advice
it was something that I thought about both the salaried and non-salaried posts. However because I have already been funded by SFE I don't know if I would be able to do it.
I've considered a change to go maybe into primary education but again I'm unsure as to what to do really.
The funding seems to vary from school to school. Some schools will fund your training. Others expect you to. I don't know what your hands on experience is like, did you do any in school placements? If you didn't, what about looking at a TA job? They are not particularly well paid but it would give you an idea as to whether you want pursue a career in education and at least get some income out of it. I'd imagine for teaching and ed psych they'd want some practical experience. Just a thought. Have you considered working in SEN at all? I do and I consider my autism a positive as it enables me to relate to the needs of the kids.
I am sorry that your experience was dictated by poor management and unacceptable bullying. Please consider continuing into teaching. I am high functioning Asd with co-morbid difficulties and I retired three years ago as an Assistant Principal after 35 years in Secondary Education. I tell you this because I understand the value that those who have Aspergers bring to our schools. The fact that you have this diagnosis means that you will have strengths that could benefit others. There are bursaries still available in teaching particular subjects, and there is a real need for teachers if you live in the U. K. Going to a local college/University and asking for student services might be a first step for you to find out what is available to you as options now. You may be pleasantly surprised. You may choose not to pursue it. One thing is certain. You have begun on your path. You have met obstacles. You are worthy of moving forward now because those obstacles are no longer there. The problems are in the past. You can now forge ahead with your future. Ask for course advice from a local provider. Celebrate your difference and tell your course provider about your Aspergers. Know what you can do to make life less stressful in terms of money. When you know, then you can make your own choices. May you be blessed with information that supports your move forward. There are many in our education system who would welcome your difference.