Mount Highschool and the Emerald Valley
If I was to draw a line graph of my life where the peaks are the tough times, my years in the secondary school system would look like Mt Everest… if Mt Everest were an active volcano and I was a scarecrow doused in lighter fluid.
I know I’m not alone here either. I mean, coping with puberty, algebra, (which I still haven’t used once in the 8 years since I finished high school) and the ever-present threat of bullying all at once is a tall order for anybody.
It can be particularly difficult for kids on the spectrum, where difficulties with socializing can add an extra layer of confusion. It can almost feel like you’re studying at a school in a foreign country where you don’t fully understand the language or the culture. Throw in the pressure of study and the increased attention from bullies that comes from being different, and it’s like trying to learn trigonometry in Norwegian while fighting off a pack of tiger sharks with a Styrofoam pool noodle.
But here’s the thing; moving passed this peak in the graph, there are certainly more mountains, but none quite as harsh. And the last few years in particular have been a broad valley of lush greenery.
In my work with high school aged teens on the spectrum, this is one thing I always try to emphasize; things might be tough now, but it gets better.
I know that when you’re climbing the volcano, it’s hard to imagine that things could ever improve; when I was in high school, I thought my future looked bleak indeed. But my life now is better than I ever dared to imagine back then.
High school can be a trying time for young people on the spectrum. But high school doesn’t last forever.