Another entry in the diary of an 80’s neurodiverse schoolboy
It’s Monday morning registration, Mrs Smales hadn’t started the register before Mrs Julene the head of year walks in, this woman hates me with a passion. She is stood at the front talking quietly to Mrs Smales and after a few minutes they both look over, “come with me Gordon” comes Mrs Julene’s sharp tone.
Walking over to her I feel everyone’s eyes on me, my eyes begin to roll around uncontrollably and my head begins to flick backwards. Just as I get to her she turns and walks to the door, with me following behind like a head flicking, eye rolling sheep.
Following through the school with no idea what I’ve done this time, I feel detached from myself, sort of an outer body experience. I’m racking my brain trying to think what it is I have done lately to be in trouble.
When we get to her office, we go inside, she closes the door then takes her seat.
“stand there” she says while pointing with her eyes to the centre of the room, she continues with her hateful tone “ok, the reason I’ve pulled you from your class is that I have made a decision, based on your behaviour you will be placed in isolation until further notice, you are to have no interaction with other pupils while on school premises”.
There is no discussion, I don’t ask any questions, I just accept my fate and that I’m in some sort of punishment once again.
She begins to explain my new school life to me, my work will be collected daily from my teachers, I will be collected at dinner time and escorted for my lunch, I didn’t listen to the rest as her voice became a drone and I drifted away inside my own thoughts.
“come with me” she says as she stands up and opens the door. I follow her to an empty classroom down the corridor, it’s quite a small room only a few tables and the windows look into a small courtyard with a tiny patch of overgrown grass and a scabby dead looking tree. She leaves me in the room alone, I guess she has gone to get my work.
I feel like the Count of Monte Cristo.
It’s very quiet and isolating in here, there is the ambient noise of mumbling voices coming from distant classrooms and the sounds of the kitchen down the hallway.
The bell rings for end of registration and I can hear people going past talking and laughing, a feeling of jealousy washes over me, I have nobody to talk to, not even someone to make eye contact with. After a few minutes the hallways slowly go quiet as everyone gradually goes into their respective classrooms, a weird silence creeps up on me and a strange sadness comes over me, I don’t know why I am here, and when I’ll be around other people again?
Mrs Julene is back with a pile of books “here is your work, you have no reasons not to get on with it, there is no one here to distract you”
I ask “how long am I here for”
Her reply is not a good one “I have decided your no longer fit to be around other pupils, you constantly disrupt lessons and engage in dangerous activities and you will be here until I decide you have learned to control yourself”.
She leaves closing the door behind her, she may as well have been closing cell door and bolting it.
Flicking through the books and looking at the assignment sheets I struggle to get into the zone of working, I haven’t got a clue what to do or where to start. Time really goes slow when you’re on your own, in silence and with nothing to do.
I spend my time staring at the white speckled walls and daydreaming, this passes sometime between the bell ringing and the temporary flood of kids in the corridor, this brings some relief from the boredom but it also pulls me from my daydreams, back into the reality and aware of my situation.
When the dinner bell sounds, I am close enough to hear the various dinner queues lining up for dinner. I’ve worked out that dinnertime is almost over, and nobody has come to escort me for mine, maybe they have forgotten me, maybe I won’t be getting any dinner or lunch as the teachers call it, why do they have to call things differently to us? They call dinner lunch, tea dinner, trousers pants, jumper pullover, I could go on forever with this its madness.
Just as panic sets in with thoughts of starvation running through my head the door opens and Mr Thompson stands in the doorway beckoning me from my cell. He doesn’t speak and he doesn’t need to, I know what I must do, walk by his side while he escorts to the dining hall like a prisoner.
We arrive at the dining hall and I can see it is almost empty, when I get to the serving hatch there is not much food left and very little choice, yet another punishment I must endure.
I collect what’s left on my plastic tray and follow Mr Thompson to a table in the corner where I sit alone in silence, he walks over to talk to another teacher. The kids that were still eating were staring over at me like I was a circus freak or something.
Dinner over or should I say ‘lunch’ and my prison guard escorts me back to solitary confinement.
The rest of the day was not much different from the beginning except that time was slower.
I craved conversation so much that I started to talk to myself out loud instead of in my head I even changed voices to make it seem more like there was two of me.
Each school day in isolation gets harder, lonelier and longer but strangely I get used to visiting my cell 5 days a week and I get used to talking to myself.
6 weeks in and the first Monday of week 7 and I’m in my cell ready for the daydream day and Mr Thompson, deputy head, comes in “Gordon join the rest of your class for your usual lesson”
“Sir?” I say confused
“you are no longer being isolated from the school, now hurry along before your late”
As I walk through the school, I’m sort of relieved, hesitant and also in a strange way I want to go back to my room and be alone.
Arriving at my classroom I can see my classmates through the wired glass in the door, I can hear the drone of the teacher’s voice talking to them. Part of me is pleased to be here another part of me is anxious to go into a room full of people, I’m used to being alone and having silence, this is going to be hard.