My proudest moment of the term was our Deputy Head boy’s assembly in the last week. He was fantastic in speaking to the whole school and was received with great respect by the student body. It tells you so much of what you need to know about this wonderful school.
These are his words – published with his permission.
My name is Daniel Bennison-Pauls and I am autistic. This doesn’t define who I am but it is a part of me, just like it is a part of someone if they have ginger hair or are short or tall.
It means that often I see the world from a different perspective than everyone else. Everyday things such as noises, smells and even peoples’ faces often appear differently to me than they would to you. I cannot really read facial expressions very well and find eye contact difficult at times.
However, even if I’m not looking directly at people, it does not mean I am being rude or not listening to them. Words often become a little jumbled to me and I need time to sort out what is being said to me and also what I want to say. I didn’t speak properly until I was about 6 years old and 2-way conversation still at times is tricky and tires me out.
However, I do love to talk and I am interesting and am worth listening to… although get me onto one of my pet subjects like football or Liverpool and I run the risk of boring you!! Remember, I wouldn’t recognise your glazed expression as ‘boredom’!!
I like routine and I am not keen on sudden, unexpected changes during the day whether at home or at school. Familiarity to me means safety. At school, I have coping mechanisms to help me with the day and my T.A Mrs. Nutt helps me cope with anything that is thrown at me. The teachers recognise my autism and help me feel safe and a valued member of the school. During exams, I have certain measures in place so I can be quiet and calm and in a room of my own.
So, as I said to begin with: I am Daniel Bennison-Pauls and I am autistic. However, I have journeyed through Banovallum safely and happily and arrived in my final year having achieved plenty. Please remember autistic people may need you to speak clearly and slowly, be a little less noisy around them and sometimes not touch them too much. But most of all, we are individuals just as you all are, we have our own personalities and we are unique. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what makes up your character, we are all as important to each other. Different doesn’t mean less, it’s just different.