I told my professor about my autism

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kmarie57
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18 Aug 2019, 7:40 pm

I started a Masters in Math Education over the summer. A decent chunk of my grade was participation. This always worries me, because I am not a huge class participator. I also have strong worries that my professors will think that I don't belong in the program, since I am not the type to share my ideas with the class. I hate being in a class and feeling like I am the only one not talking during a class discussion, which was exactly how I felt over the summer. My professor, Dr. E, often had us working in groups. During one particular group activity that we were doing, my two group members were talking together, and I was kind of working next to them. My professor came over and told me that I could talk with them. I know that she was joking, but it still made me feel self-conscious.

Fast forward to this semester, and I am taking another class with Dr. E. Participation is a large part of this grade as well (even more so I believe). Our first day of class was last Thursday, and we were supposed to be discussing equity in education in our group. I did contribute when I felt like I had something to say, but I was still being quiet compared to my other group members. Dr. E once again came over and commented on how I am the quietest in the class. Once again, I felt self-conscious about it. I already knew that I wasn't talking as much. Even when I know what I want to say, I find it difficult to just jump into group conversations like that. I also feel like sometimes I need to think more about what was said and how to respond, so by the time I'm ready to talk they have already moved on.

I was just recently diagnosed with autism (July 19th, 2019), and I've been having a difficult time accepting it. After therapy last Wednesday, I decided to try again with the acceptance path by recognizing that there are some things I struggle with. Well, talking in groups is something that I struggle with. And it is having an impact on my life, because I worry about what everyone else is thinking of me and it could possibly affect my grade if Dr. E thought that I wasn't participating enough. I decided that telling Dr. E about my autism would be a good step in the right direction.

I hung back after class, and once all of the students were gone, I told Dr. E that I have autism and that makes it difficult for me to speak up in group settings, but that it doesn't mean that I am not listening or actively following along. I explained that I don't have accommodations and that I don't need or want them, I just wanted her to be aware of this.

She actually cut me off to say that she knows I listen and am engaged in class. In our summer class, we had a lot of writing assignments that we had to complete. She said that it was obvious from those writing assignments how engaged I am in class. She then proceeded to tell me that she thinks I am one of the most thoughtful students she has ever had and that she has bragged about me to other professors at my college and told them things like "just wait until you have this student." She then explained that she knows I am quiet and was just making a joke earlier.

It was a huge relief to know that she recognizes that I do belong here in this program. I am also so thankful that she seemed so accepting. Her response was basically "yes, I recognize the part that you're telling me, but I also recognize this other part of you, and that part is more important to me" and I don't think she will ever realize how much I needed that.



IsabellaLinton
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18 Aug 2019, 7:57 pm

What an uplifting story! :heart:
Thanks for sharing and good luck in your program!



Magna
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18 Aug 2019, 9:13 pm

That's great news. Good for you! That was a courageous thing to do. I am exactly the same way in that I have to analyze what people are saying and I need to take time to formulate a good response and by that time.....like you said, others have moved on.

Your story is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I'm very happy for you.


_________________
"There is no love of living without despair of life." - Albert Camus

"Ain't nothing but a stranger in this world
I'm nothing but a stranger in this world" -Van Morrison

AQ-43 (32-50 indicates a strong likelihood of Asperger syndrome or autism).
EQ-14 out of 80
Rdos: Your neurodiverse (Aspie) score: 173 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 39 of 200
You are very likely neurodiverse (Aspie)


kmarie57
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19 Aug 2019, 3:52 am

Thank you both!