Like others out there on the spectrum, I do not have my High School diploma. This is something that I’m not proud of, something that I’m rather ashamed of. It frustrates me and stresses me out to think of all the circumstances surrounding the situation. I absolutely hate talking about it, mostly because it makes me feel like a complete and total idiot. My poor boyfriend has learned this because I kind of freak out every time he tries to talk to me about it, even though he’s being kind and trying to help me. Despite this, I will explain the situation and frustrations here so that it may help others.
(Any parent of a child with Asperger Syndrome knows that school and grades are an extremely stressful part of life. My mom could tell you all about how I would slack off on everything, except in my classes with teachers that I especially liked. If I wasn’t interested in the class or what they were trying to get me to learn, there was zero effort put into anything. This says absolutely nothing about my intelligence or the intelligence of others with AS. It’s just a part of our quirkiness.)
Let me start off with my senior year. For the first Semester, I did relatively well. I was passing my classes. I may have been struggling with a few things because I hated those classes, but I was passing. The school I attended that year was a private Christian school that used a curriculum from a school in Florida. The credit requirements for this school were more intense than that of California standards. So, in the middle of the third quarter, the director of the school was informed that I needed to add three more classes to my already full class load. Because of this, I was watching my classes (we had DVD’s with recordings of classes that we watched every day) from 7:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon straight. I had two 10 minute breaks and I had lunch, but other than that, I was watching my classes all day, without stopping. After school, I went home and spent hours on my homework. Often I would wake up very early to finish what I could not the night before. I didn’t even get a Spring Break. I spent the entire time watching my classes all day, often longer than normal school days. I did this to catch up on the classes that had been added on last minute. With this full schedule and helping out at home and at church, I was not able to focus long enough on things to properly learn certain things. For the most part, it was Pre-Calculus. So, I did not receive my HS diploma because I failed one class. Pre-Calculus.
The summer after my “graduation”, I dove into being busy with working at the gym. I avoided taking care of getting my diploma because of no real reason. It just irritated and stressed me out to no end whenever my parents brought it up. I would shut down and shut them out to crawl into my little box or I would fall apart and the situation would end in tears of frustration. What made me even more frustrated at the situation was feeling like a small child because of my reaction.
That fall, I decided that it was time to do something about it, and I looked at my options. I could go through either of the continuation schools in town to get either a diploma or a GED. Neither of these options was a pleasant idea for me because it would ruin the reputation I had of being a very smart person. Obviously, I hate looking like an idiot. Another option would be to pay money, take a test, and get a GED. I didn’t much like this option either. I would have to pay money, and even though a GED is technically the equivalent of a HS diploma, it screams ‘I screwed up and couldn’t get a diploma like a normal person’ to potential employers. The last option that I knew of was going to Job Corps. In America, this is a government and big-business funded program. They have campuses in every state of the union. They are trade schools. This idea suits me because it’s pretty much guaranteed that what I would be learning would be specifically geared towards the career I was receiving training for. Another bonus to Job Corps is the opportunity of finishing all credit requirements and receiving a diploma. With this, you would also get money for getting your diploma through them. I pursued this option and was halted in my tracks. I filled out the application and went through the interview process with little incident, but the two things that were missing from their information stopped me from being able to join. The school faxed my transcripts to them at least three times, but they apparently never received it. I also had to present proof that my parents weren’t claiming me on their taxes; however, my parents hadn’t filed their taxes yet. I kept in contact with the counselor assigned to me and kept her updated on the situation. My application expired before my parents had finished, so the counselor told me that she would send me another application to fill out. I gave her the information to e-mail it, mail it, or fax it to me, but I never heard from her again. I kept calling and e-mailing her, but she never replied.
Needless to say, I was quite discouraged after this had happened, so I just gave up for a while. The boyfriend has reminded me of how important having a diploma is. Yes, I’m still frustrated and stressed out by it. No, I really don’t want to deal with it or take care of it, but I need to. I see that now. Thanks to the boyfriend. 😀 Sometimes what I need is to be pushed. Having someone being understanding only goes so far. Sometimes being pushed is the only way I’ll do things. So, with this new motivation, I prepare myself to reevaluate the options and make a decision and pursue it.
I know that I’m not the only Aspie that has not obtained a diploma, but it really is something important. I would not suggest dropping out of school or slacking off because you’re not interested or you don’t see the point. I hated High School because I wasn’t learning anything about what I knew that I wanted to do with my life. I saw all the learning and tests as pointless, but I trudged through because I knew that I needed the education to be able to do what it was that I wanted. The same goes for other Aspies. It’s something that you need. Even if it bores you to death, just get through it so that you can move on what it is that you really want. Then you won’t have to go through all the struggles I’m going through.