As you have learned about in my past forty-four blog posts, I have been in many situations where people have not understood my behavior. Because of that, I was repeatedly teased and ridiculed in school simply because I was not like everybody else. That was especially the case during my years at the Freeport Area Senior High school. My memoir is going to talk about quite a few situations I experiences where people didn’t treat me like I was a human being and not a number or a face, which is why I am writing about why I think the program at Lenape Tech should not ever be changed. I was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was in the second grade, and I didn’t really gain a good understanding of the “disorder” until my sophomore and junior years of high school.
I have also talked about how I had the difficulty deciphering if a person is just and acquaintance or a friend. I tended to rush friendships and become too trusting and to have too many expectations from those people. As a result, they would either feel uncomfortable around me and avoid me or they would try to manipulate me. Ever since then, it has become extremely difficult to trust people. I have dealt with therapists in the past who have pushed me into being a more “public” person, but it didn’t help me at all. It made me even more nervous and overwhelmed during social situations, especially in school.
As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, there have been situations where people who really did seem to realize I was not comfortable at school. The majority of those people were the bullies. There have been instances where they have convinced me into thinking they were trying to be my friend, when they really were not. Again, I became too trusting of people, and those individuals that bullies will most likely try to manipulate. At both Lenape and Freeport, people have asked me the same ignorant question “why are you so quiet”? When they ask me things like this, I turn around and ignore them. I consider that part of who I am, and that is something I will not change about myself. I think it is completely wrong to change somebody for who they are, regardless of the circumstance.
Because it is so difficult to me to trust people, I also find it difficult to understand whether somebody is playfully joking around with me and trying to be my friend, or purposely trying to manipulate me and cause me to become the laughingstock of the crowd. I am going to give you some examples of these situations. One of them, it was difficult to decipher at first, and the other it was completely obvious they were not trying to be my friend. The first one took place during the beginning of my freshman year at Freeport. It was about the second or third week of school, and everybody in my class was mostly settled in and the pretty much liked the overall high school experience. I was the complete opposite, I dreaded every minute of it. At lunch I would try to find somebody to sit with, but they just didn’t show the interest in including me in their table conversations. This particular person I am going to talk about was in my seventh period biology class, and she seemed to realize that I was having problems fitting in with the crowd. She would talk to me in a very patronizing tone of voice “Derek, how is high school? Do you have lots of friends?” I just responded with a one word answer, “okay”. She then started repeatedly calling my name and asking me “why won’t you talk to me”? “I’m only trying to be your friend”. I then ignored her, because there have been times where she was rude to me in the junior high. It was a lab period day, and I was in the class for sixth and seventh period. When the change bell from sixth to seventh period rang, the teachers let us take a break and visit with our friends in the other biology class next door. Students are given three minutes to change classes, and they were expected to be in the classroom when the tardy bell rang. During those three minutes, the teacher stood outside in the hallway to monitor hall traffic. I decided to stay in my seat and finish the assignment we were working on, and when she walked back into the room she started talking to me again. She then started violating my personal space, which she knew I didn’t like, and touched me inappropriately. She got a few of the other students in the classroom to laugh at me, and after that I couldn’t take it anymore and yelled out “get the fuck out of here”. She then bluntly and sarcastically responded “Derek, that is a bad word. Why would you talk to me like that? I am only trying to be your friend. I’m gonna get somebody to jump you. You are such an asshole”. I then walked out of the room to get a drink of water, then went right back to my seat. When I walked back into the door, she walked over to the table I was sitting at, and she shoved all of my belongings off of my desk. After I picked up all of my things, the tardy bell rang and the teacher came back into the room. My mother reported it the next day, and the office decided to give her two weeks of in school suspension for her actions.
The motives of the girl in my biology class were difficult to understand at first because it seemed like she was trying to be nice. The other person I am going to talk about tried to perform a similar trick on me. He was the person I mentioned in my letter to the school board about Lenape. He would harass me in the locker room by inappropriately touching me and repeatedly saying “Derek, I love you. Give me a kiss”. I tried my best to not pay attention to him, but he would keep on doing it. Just like the girl in my Biology class, he would invade my personal space and touch me to try to get me angry. I decided to ignore it because it only happened once, but the next gym class he would do it again, and this time he would do it more often. I talked to my mother that evening and she emailed the school, this time they only gave him a thirty second “don’t do that again” speech. Into my sophomore year, this behavior kept on happening. My mother emailed the school twice before anything else was done, then they finally sent him to a different school because of another behavior he exhibited.
Even though they did remove that student from the school, they could have dealt with the situation in a more professional manner. This brings me to my final point, people often tell me that I need to “loosen up” and “be more open”. That is something that still is extremely difficult for me, even after I went through counseling with many different therapists. People often think that social anxiety and depression are things you can “snap out of”. That is a very ignorant statement to make. People have told me countless times that I need to “laugh at jokes more often”. I can’t laugh at certain jokes because I don’t understand if it implies the person is trying to be friendly or trying to manipulate me. It is hard for me to come out of my shell and open up to people like that.
To wrap things up, I do fear things like this will happen in college, wherever I decide to go. I am still not sure if I really want to experience the dorm life or not, because I could get stuck with roommates who are rude and judgmental about me, and who leave me out of their activities. However, I do know they are not my real friends if they treat me like that. Programs like Computing Workshop have been extremely beneficial to me because I have met at least one person whom I do consider my friend. Even though I don’t see him often during the school year, I am glad he does keep in touch with me now and then. After reading this post, I hope people will be more understanding of not only me, but anybody else who has been through similar experiences. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I will be back to write again soon!
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