Academic Privilege – Is the Public Education System Destroying NeuroDivergent People?


Hey humans Lyric here, NeuroDivergent Rebel, and this week, we’re going to talk about why the education system isn’t always ideal, and can even be traumatic, for many Autistic or NeuroDivergent People. If you would like to know more about my thoughts on this particular topic, please do stay tuned.

Whew. Education is a big one. It’s a big topic.  It’s something that is painful for many NeuroDivergent People, Autistic People.

 That is because the school systems are designed and tailored to teach one style of learner and one type of teaching.  Those of us who learn, and experience, and process information differently are often treated as if we are problems, when we fail to fit into the neuro-typical education system.

As a young person, the school treated me like I was a problem and I felt like I was inferior.

By the time I left school, at the age of 18, there was no way I was going to continue on to higher education and university.

Remember, I was an undiagnosed Autistic, multiply NeuroDivergent adult – I have ADHD as well.

 I went through my entire elementary school, middle school, and high school, and some of my work life not knowing I was NeuroDivergent. 

Having no accommodations in place to help me with my learning, I believed that I was a complete failure, incapable of learning, the biggest garbage human in the world – by the time I left school – because of being told I was wrong, and inferior, and just barely making it through my classes, being unaccommodated.

 For me, school was a very traumatic experience, and there was no way I was going to continue and pay – take out loans to be tortured, when I had barely made it through the free public education and I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to continue with continuing education after that.

Now I am someone who spent time in the general education classroom. I spent time in the special education classroom, and I also spent time in gifted and talented classes.

 I’ve been all over the public education system in Texas, where I’m from.

 I’ve even been to private school, because my parents were desperate in elementary school, when the public school system didn’t really seem to know what to do with me.  They were convinced that I was so bright and so capable, but in public school, and even in the private school educational environment, I did not show case well.

The school, even at one point, in first or second grade, I believe, maybe third, but I’m pretty sure it was first grade. 

I have trouble sequencing things, in my head. All the events are floating around, like this, and there was no timeline, really, just a bunch of things.

 I, I, I, I struggle with timelines. That, that made  government economics and history really difficult-  not one of my best subjects.

Um but… where was I? ADHD. Oh my goodness.

Got it.

I had to go back and rewatch it to figure out where I was going with that.

  I was struggling, early in school, elementary school.

The school did go to my guardians and request we do testing for learning disabilities, but when they did, so they said, “we think there’s something wrong with that child, and we’d like to have them checked” and my NeuroDivergent family, many of which didn’t know they were NeuroDivergent, or may still not know they are NeuroDivergent, but are all very similar to me, being told “there’s something wrong with that child” who you all resemble.

My family went, “no, no, no, no, no. How dare you. We’re not testing that child for anything. There’s nothing wrong with the child.”

 I did get some tutoring because of that, but they declined to have me tested for learning disabilities.

 I have a typed copy of that letter on the typewriter that was typed up and given to my school.

Wow. Typewriters that just age myself a little bit there.

I had a typewriter as one of my early accommodations because my handwriting was so bad.

Eventually I did get a really old crummy used laptop by the time I was in high school instead of a typewriter. Thank goodness.  That was just one other way. That school was hard on me.

I should’ve pulled out my old report cards from elementary school for this, so you can see the citizenship report that talks about handwriting and neatlyness and all of these really ableist concepts that set NeuroDivergent, Autistics specifically and ADHD kids, up for failure.

I hope report cards aren’t still using these  metrics they use when I was a kid.

As I hinted at earlier, with history not being a very easy subject for me that I generally barely would pass, if I could pass at all, I tend to be either exceptional at something or complete rubbish at it and there is no in between.

I was an exceptional music and art student. I did very well in literature and writing. I did really bad in geometry, but did great in algebra and was horrible in biology and certain kinds of science, but a lot of that, also, would have to do with how the information was presented, and how well my teacher  would interact with me.

For example, I had a math  teacher, in algebra, where I would draw and doodle in class the entire time that teacher was teaching.

 Most teachers would have taken away my sketchbook, which then would have caused me to probably fall asleep in class instead of listening. Despite the fact that I was drawing, I was in fact actually listening.

 So if the teacher would have taken away my sketchbook, I would’ve probably fallen asleep and would have been completely unable to engage in the class, and would have therefore learned nothing.  Teachers had a really big impact on my ability to succeed as well. Not looking like I was listening was a reoccurring problem in my life growing up.

Teachers that took this personally were often, for me, very hostile classrooms to be in, because being demanded to look at someone and pretend I’m paying attention to them, means I am unable to actually pay attention to them because I’m too busy thinking about, “do I look like I’m paying enough attention? Am I being still enough? Am I not moving too much? Am I awake?” Because I’m just focused on “look attentive, look, attentive, look, attentive, look attentive.”

I was the kid that was bouncing around the room, crawling around under the desk and bouncing off the walls, making noise, talking to themselves, singing to themselves in the classroom.

I was the disruptive child, in elementary school is especially, because that classroom environment, with all of those kids was so overwhelming. The fluorescent lighting, the kids, the everything, the teacher, teaching things I actually already knew before I started first grade.

So, not only did the teacher need me to sit still and pretend to pay attention and pretend to learn something I already knew, I was vibrating, with all of the extra sensory stimulation, and overload, and energy from the room. It was so overwhelming.

Asking me to be still in that environment was cruel and unusual punishment.

This may be different depending on where you’re from, but, where I live in Texas United States, 12th grade, high school is generally thought of as the minimum goal you’re supposed to reach for in life, otherwise the other options would be a GED, if you’re not continuing on to university.

I didn’t even take the SATs. I didn’t apply for a single university. I didn’t apply for a single grant, or any tuition money to attend. I didn’t have any faith in myself, or my ability to succeed in a university environment, after going through public education system,  until it had exhausted me.

I went straight into the workforce.

So many Autistic and NeuroDivergent People live in poverty, and because Autism is genetic, a lot of our NeuroDivergent parents  are likely to have dealt with many of the same difficulties.

That is another reason that higher education, and getting a decent education, because in my opinion, public school education is not a decent education, is off limits for so many Autistic People.

 This is another problem with the academic realm, because it excludes so many Autistic and NeuroDivergent People.

 So many Autistic and NeuroDivergent People are excluded from continuing education, yet, if we look at where research and information about Autism, traditionally, has come from up until recently. It was coming out of an academic realm.

We have academic gatekeepers all around Autistic People, and the narrative of Autism and the diagnosis of Autistic and NeuroDivergent People, that the have gone to university and have higher education and use their degrees and their privilege to control the lives of Autistic People and NeuroDi vergent People who are less privileged and squeezed out of these systems.

 People say “I have an education. I know more about this. I did the time and I got educated.”

You got educated in a university. You’re book smart, but that’s not the same as real world lived experience.

A lot of neuro-typical non-Autistic researchers, researching Autism and Autistic People – you’re looking at us under a magnifying glass, like we’re ants or subjects, and you’re completely missing the human aspect, with your academic lens.

Do we really want to say that the academics, because they’ve studied something from the outside, are more knowledgeable on a topic than those who actually have lived experience in that subject matter?

I can respect that you put a lot of time, energy, and effort into getting a degree, and that you’re proud of yourself for this accomplishment, but as someone who never felt welcome in academic settings or university, I can’t be proud of you for going to university.

I’m sorry. The pat on the back for continuing your education is not going to come from me.

Although if you do use that privilege, that you have managed to acquire, for something good to help amplify the voices of Autistic People with lived experience, those who are the most vulnerable, and the least likely to have access to academia and continuing education. If you help  those voices be heard, that’s something I can respect.

Going to university because you want people to take you seriously and you’re trying to get clout, and notoriety, and a bunch of titles, and things to list on the end of your name so people will think more of you… just like in elementary school, when I literally didn’t understand why I had to prove to my teacher, I knew how to read or could do math… I still don’t feel the need to have a bunch of abbreviations and labels on my name to prove to others what I know. I like to let my work speak for itself.

Thanks everyone hanging out.

I have unintentionally done another 20 minute long video.

These are supposed to meet 10 minute long videos, and this is creeping up on 18 minutes now. What have I done?

Hopefully it’ll get shorter in editing, when I go chop out all the “ums and yeahs”.

DScript  is the software I’m using for that, if anyone is curious, it transcribes my videos for me.

This is not a paid promotion. It is just a software that has changed my life.

Anyway, thank you all for hanging out. I hope you found this, longer video, helpful and educational.

If you did go ahead and please subscribe. I put out new videos each and every Wednesday. Don’t forget to turn on notifications so you don’t miss when those come out.

 An extra special thank you, as always, to the Patreon subscribers, YouTube channel members, and Facebook supporters – who do a little bit of a monetary subscription to help amplify, and support, the NeuroDivergent Rebel blog, and the creation of this high quality content.

 You are the ones that helped me do things, like get DScript, so that I can transcribe and closed caption my videos.

Closed captioning and transcriptions are always available for these videos are at NeuroDivergent Rebel dot com, thanks to those monetary subscribers.

Thank you everyone for being here, for commenting, sharing, getting your video suggestions.

If you have a question or a video, future video, topic idea, please drop it now, because I want to make videos about topics that are helpful and useful to you. To You!

I don’t do these videos for my own health. I do them to, hopefully, make your day, your life, and your world a better place.

So, that’s it. I will talk to you all next week. We’ll see you later, humans.


Help me get the word out!!! – If you like what I do, and would like more, please consider subscribing on Patreon. This blog is made possible by support from readers like YOU!  (Sharing my content is also, equally helpful!) with gratitude, Lyric

One thought on “Academic Privilege – Is the Public Education System Destroying NeuroDivergent People?

  1. The insights you shared about the challenges neurodivergent individuals face within the education system are eye-opening. It’s important to raise awareness about academic privilege and work towards creating an inclusive environment for everyone. Thank you for shedding light on this issue and advocating for change.

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