How to Succeed in School if You're Autistic

For some kids, school can be a pleasurable, friendly experience. However, it's never easy when you're different - and being autistic in school will make life more difficult in some ways. In fact, 94% of autistic people said they found school a horrible experience. This doesn't have to be you. Here are some ways to try to make your school career easier.


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    Before you do anything, make sure you acknowledge the fact that you do some things well. Just because you find school hard doesn't mean that everything else is hard, too. Everybody, from the most everyday of neurotypicals to people such severe autism that they can't talk, has something they are good at, academically or not. If you would like, you could try out different activities, like martial arts or drawing. If your strength just so happens to be in an academic subject, well, you are gifted.
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    Now, think about what you find the most difficult about school. Maybe it's the crowds and noise, or perhaps the worry about bullying, or the academics, or teachers stereotyping you as "thick". Whatever you choose to put down on there, everybody has something that causes them hassle. It is completely natural to not enjoy something as a whole.
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    Decide how you're going to tackle it. (See Things You'll need for supplies!) For example, if you were being bullied in lessons (the majority of autism spectrum kids are), you could plan to avoid the bully as much as possible, and find out what behaviour makes them do it more and avoid doing it, or tell the class teacher. Or if you're falling behind in class, you could find out your individual "learning style" (type "VAK model" into Google for details of this) and use this as a basis for your learning approach. In fact, you could even use your skill from step 1 to fix this dilemma. All problems have a solution!
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    Try to follow your plan as well as possible. If you do not succeed at some points, it doesn't matter - so long as you learn from it and try to limit mistakes. Everybody has off days. Alternatively, this could mean your plan needs some changes to make it right for you.
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    Have special "coping strategies" to help you cope with tough situations. But don't try anything self-destructive. That will just make your situation worse. Try researching something you are interested in, or doing something you find relaxing once you get home.
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    Finally, remember, all the time, that you are special in your own, amazing way. Just keep thinking positively, and one day, it will be easy for you.


  • Need a quiet, solitary place to escape to? Most school campuses have spots, in the school grounds or just outside of them, where no-one ever seems to go. Find one, and make it your retreat spot. But be warned that many of these places are out of bounds, though - so don't get caught. But sometimes, rules just have to be broken - and breaking normal rules could just save an Aspie's life. If there's a particular subject you like, go and hang out in that department if it's not full of people at break times.
  • If you've got a friendly, understanding teacher, you can ask for help in getting official permission for retreating to an (otherwise off-boundary) quiet place.
  • Focus on the good things about school. If you do that, then hopefully you won't need to read this article.
  • If in a bad mood, try to think of something that makes you laugh.
  • Have a "role model" to imitate in social situations. If you get into a hard situation, imagine how they'd handle it and copy their behaviour. A good role model would be friendly, approachable, kind and gentle. Just don't cover yourself up too much - you have a right to be you!
  • As hard as it is to make friends, try to become friends with at least one person who seems okay and hang out with him/her a lot. Bullies won't be able to approach you as much if you have friends.
  • If you aren't sure what to do in a social situation, try acting it out in your head, but from the opposite perspective. For instance, if you want to discuss your favorite TV show with someone, imagine if a different person came up to you and launched into a conversation about their favorite show? It would be off putting and strange, so you shouldn't do it either.


  • Some autistics manage OK in school, but many really don't. If you are one of them, talk to someone about it. Don't suffer in silence.
  • Remember that there are people on your side, too.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself if school's a pain. Everyone's different, and some are more different from others.
  • Many of these "hideout places" could be outside of school grounds. Try not to get caught sneaking around. And this should only be a VERY last resort.
  • If you are caught hiding out somewhere, teachers/staff should be sympathetic if you explain how you are feeling and why you want to be alone sometimes. It might even turn out to be a help rather than a punishment.
  • Stay aware of mental health problem symptoms. If you have any, get it sorted via your GP.

Things You'll Need

  • ALL the information available to you on Asperger's Syndrome
  • Friends who accept you and love you unconditionally

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Autism Spectrum | Surviving School