“Tim, please settle down and see me after class!”

Today I’m going to share something that I’m REALLY embarrassed about, and took a bit of courage on my part to post. I say this because it earned me a fairly negative reputation in middle and high school, and probably contributed to why I didn’t make a whole lot of friends back then. Looking back on this topic isn’t easy for me at all because it brings back some rather painful memories.

However, I strongly believe that it needs to be shared in order to give my readers good idea of what Asperger Syndrome can look like in several cases. From what I understand, the kind of behavior that I shall describe in this post is somewhat common among many individuals who are on the autism spectrum. So perhaps there are some of you who can relate to this issue a little bit, and it is my hope that I can help some of those without Aspergers or similar disorders understand it slightly better.

Ok so starting in middle school, up to my late high school years, there were numerous instances where I would completely lose my cool and have an emotional outburst during class. The exact specifics of my outburst would, of course, vary, but most of the time it would generally look something like this:

  1. To start with, I am probably in a bad mood or particularly stressed from schoolwork.
  2. One of two things will occur at some point during class:
    o The teacher will talk to the class about a challenging assignment or exam that is due in the near future, which makes me feel extremely worried
    o OR a couple of other students in the class will engage in what I find to be particularly mean, obnoxious, disrespectful, or disruptive behavior – which is either targeted toward me or toward the teacher.
  3. After one of those two things occur, I will start speaking to the teacher without being called upon, gradually raising my voice and becoming aggressive
  4. The teacher will try their best to quiet me down and maintain control, clearly getting more and more impatient with me
  5. Not obtaining what I want, I become even more emotional and will not stop shouting either till the teacher somehow convinces me to sit down and talk to them after class, or till they dismiss me from the classroom and send me to the principal’s office.

Like I said, not all instances of my outbursts happened exactly like this, but I believe the vast majority of them followed this basic formula. Anyway, these classroom temper tantrums didn’t occur until I was in middle school, and kept happening all throughout high school. In fact, I think that they got much worse in high school. Further, there may have even been one or two instances during my freshman year at Marist when I let my stress or frustration get the best of me and had to remove myself from the class. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure these outbursts went away quickly by the time I was done with my freshman year, and have not been much of an issue since.

Nevertheless, I think you can see why I feel so ashamed when looking back at these classroom temper tantrums. The thing that makes it most humiliating for me is that I wasn’t exactly a young child at the time. I was in my early and late teens! Consequently, not only did I look incredibly childish to the other students, but I also think it secured an image for myself at school as the kid who goes ballistic at the drop of a hat. Even worse, I must have caused some of my teachers a massive deal of anxiety, causing them to often worry that I may soon have another outburst. In fact, I remember someone coming up to me when I was a senior in high school, asking if I was ok with being the male “Teacher’s Torment” for the yearbook. Let me tell you, I was immensely hurt when this was suggested to me, because it was never my intention to torment my teachers in the least.

On one plus side, my parents as well as many faculty members at school did their best to help me understand why this sort of behavior wasn’t acceptable. They usually never got upset with me, and actually tried to calmly explain to me how I should maintain composure during class when I’m experiencing serious anxiety or being bothered by other students. Plus, many of the teachers that had to deal with my tantrums in their classes showed me a generous amount of forgiveness and sympathy. They probably knew that I wasn’t trying to give anyone a hard time, but simply had difficulty properly handling my stress with schoolwork and my frustrations caused by other students.

Despite all that, it’s hard to avoid the embarrassment that this past behavior has caused me. I now fully realize how rude, irritating, and inappropriate it was for me to interrupt classes the way that I did, yelling at the teacher and other students in the middle of a lesson. I sincerely apologize to all of my teachers and fellow students from middle and high school having to suffer through all of it. I wish I could offer a sufficient explanation for why I behaved like this, but unfortunately, I don’t remember the experiences well enough to do so. All I can say is that I’m deeply sorry and that I hope I didn’t cause my teachers and classmates too much pain.

In addition, I would like to say that I fully sympathize with young students who exhibit similar tendencies during their classes at school. Although I don’t have a very clear memory of my own emotional outbursts, I do somewhat understand why many children on the autism spectrum do it so frequently. I imagine that they must find it extremely difficult to handle their stress, anger, insecurity, and other emotions without being able to openly express it. I hope that they receive all of the support and understanding that they need, just as I did, and that more people can realize that these students are not just “annoying little brats who need to shut the f#$% up.”

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