What Would I Tell My High School Self?

Published: Sunday, 09 August 2015 Written by Dawn Marcotte


This is the last question that was asked in my recent survey of almost 60 autistic college students.

If you have read the other articles you know that I summarized the comments, consolidated the information and made recommendations based on the responses and my experience as a parent and a teacher.

For this question I am doing things differently. I am providing all of the answers directly from the survey. It was completely anonymous and I think the advice given is worth reading just at it was given to me.

Some of it reflects the pain of high school and some responses reflect a sense of humor. All of them represent a life lived.

Do you want to download a PDF of all of the responses? Click here.


If you could go back in time and give a piece of advice to your high school self, what would it be?

Take an AP course instead of so many study halls. Study halls get so boring.

you will get through this

to not rush life away.

to focus on my strengths and not be so ashamed of my weaknesses... and to be okay with taking time for self-care (I tend to worry about not working/accomplishing something every moment)

Start earlier in working on overcoming social anxiety

I would tell myself to be more assertive. I would tell myself not to worry about offending the teachers or getting in trouble by standing up to them. When the problems I had at high school were causing obsessive thoughts, clinical depression, or other negative emotions, I would advise myself to skip class and not worry about getting in trouble. If I got detention, I would advise myself to refuse to attend. I would also teach myself to study for exams because I never learned how to study in high school. All my high school classes were either too easy or too hard so in either case I wasn't learning.

To not dropout of high school and to have been informed in depth about autism instead of having to be hospitalized and misdiagnosed and abused

For the love of god stop worrying what others will think and ask for help if you need it.

you have Aspergers! Knowledge is power - research it now!

Seek help now. Don't wait till college, because I spent a lot of money unnecessarily and struggled more than I should have needed to before my problems began to be addressed. Also, pursue more physical science classes. I have great talent I could have fed that and had more fun and I didn't really care for the biology classes I took anyway, and I didn't learn much from them.

No one else feels as agitated by the things that bother you as you do, so you need to tell people when it happens, because they have no idea it's happening, otherwise.

Choose college wisely.

Don't be ashamed to ask for help.

Don't let them change you, for God's sake, don't do it!

You're autistic and trans. Find your communities and learn to accept yourself.

Find a person who you can be close with who understands when you need time to be by yourself, but also pushes you to expand your social life.

Hang in there, kid. Things will be rough for a while. Probably for the rest of your life. But you'll become tougher. Everything will be okay. Nothing is forever. Don't take the pills.

Don't be afraid to use the skills you do have (typing) to communicate your needs to adults--they love you and they will help you, whatever it takes.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Everyone telling you that you're "too smart" to be a teacher or that you'll never get a job with an English Ph.D. is full of crap. DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL. Also, you're autistic. You're not insane, you're not alone, and being "gifted" doesn't mean you're not also disabled. Get a diagnosis.

Learn about sensory overload, and plan about how to avoid it from other autistic people.

It gets better

I will tell him that he's not worthless and he can tackle any obstacles no matter what. In addition, I will tell him not to sink in to pessimism.

Don't stress so much about college applications; if you have good grades, a few school activities, and you can interview okay, you'll get into a bunch of places. Also, GET ON SOME ANTIDEPRESSANTS ALREADY AND STOP PUTTING IT OFF (that advice is pretty personal to me I think).

listen to Mum, she knows how to get the support promised

Hey dork! you aren't stupid, you've actually got autism and dyslexia so go get tested and get some help and resources so you DONT feel like you're and idiot banging your head into a wall...

Keep up the blackmail. It WILL pay off.

Be more in control. I was overwhelmed a lot at that time and I took the path of least resistance.

Don't be afraid to ask for help/support when things get hard and the stress becomes overwhelming.

Stop trying and just get your ged. No one will work with you.

You're not stupid, you just have extra challenges. Look up autism and ask a professional (and not your mother) about it.

just keep learning

be more assertive in setting boundaries with parents. Don't let them tell you that you can't do something if you've never tried.

Don't be scared

To stop worrying about your inadequacy.

be open to students personal needs and be KIND !

I don't know.

Don't settle for the expensive school with financial problems. You've got the grades to get into an expensive school that doesn't have financial problems. Also, you can get scholarships.

I would have advised myself to never miss classes and to start assignments early and do a little each day, but I wouldn't have been capable of following my own advice.

Refuse to move out. Your parents won't understand, they may never understand. But, life would be so much better if you went to a local college and lived at home.

Don't panic about finding the right major. In high school I was freaking out that I'd choose the wrong career path, but in hindsight this was a waste of my energy. To figure out what path is right for me was really a matter of trial and error. I tried classes in different majors, realized they weren't a good fit, and eventually found what I wanted to do by process of elimination. Your advisors (in high school or in college) may pressure you to choose a major right away but it takes time to discover what you want and need out of a career.

try harder to get supports, also make sure you're eating!! oh, and animation is way better than computer science.

"You're doing fine, and it's going to be okay. Also, the psych meds aren't helping, upping the dose is just going to make the side effects worse."


Don't worry about looking normal. Social rules are made to be broken, and how you break them defines your personality. Self-protection can be helpful, but it can also be extremely destructive when it involves pretending to be someone you're not.

Make friends.

Don't be so hard on yourself and beat yourself up for things you can't control.

stop casting love spells and don't take the xanax.

You know how you suspect you might be autistic and people keep on using it to insult you? I don't care if you're parents keep waving you off. Get yourself a god-damned diagnosis already. Especially if you're pre-year 10. It'll save you so much pain and humiliation, I promise. At the very least, you would be able to understand it more.

You're not a freak. You don't have ADD. You're autistic. And you're not broken. Find the autistic community and learn about what autism really is- the "experts" have it wrong. Your experiences are the truth of it. Your experiences are the valid truth. What they tell you isn't backed up by correct science and they've done their best to ignore autistic people's voices on the matter.

I would tell my high school self that they needed to convince someone to get them proper accommodations, or look into alternative schooling options earlier.

I'd have myself look into autism sooner, and try to find ways to advocate for myself.

Watch your weight. It's easy to gain weight in college.

In High School- Focus on your grades and getting into college. Most friends from high school will fade. If you don't hang out with them outside of high school during the school year, you probably won't hang out with them outside of high school ever. If high school is difficult for you, take heart that you can truly begin again in college and everything will feel much more free and independent. Also, it is NOT shameful to do your core classes in community college. It will actually save you a lot of money.

Don't try to be anything you aren't.

Tell Dad to be more quiet when he decides to randomly stay home for a week because he is too freakin' noisy.

Please share this article as widely as possible to help autistic voices be heard.


Do you want to see all of the responses?  Click below.


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