Jules works at MacIntyre School as a teacher. She was recently diagnosed with ADHD and is on a waiting list for Autism assessment. This is her story.
What was it like for you growing up?
My need for additional support wasn’t recognised as I didn’t stand out. I think my age and the fact I was female also had an impact. I was seen as the wild child and did silly things on impulse.
At school I would day dream and struggled to build relationships or maintain them. I found it difficult to make conversation naturally. If you know me you might find that surprising, as when I am with people I know, I can talk a lot. But in new places or environments I am not comfortable, and can remain mute.
I struggled to learn new tasks at school, and understand what I needed to do, I was unhappy and struggled to grasp lessons and keep attention. I would jump and flit from one thing to another.
I managed to scrape two GCSEs and had to beg my head teacher to let me do A-Levels. They agreed to let me do the first year on condition I had good mock results. I managed to get my A-Levels but it wasn’t enough to get me into university to study teaching.
So what did you do next?
I knew I wanted to work in care, so I started a job at MacIntyre
My dream was always to be a teacher so I moved over to the school and got experience of what it is like to work in a classroom
When I was offered the chance to study my level 5 and take a step closer to my teaching dream I jumped at the opportunity.
When did you start to notice you might have ADHD/ASD?
I attended MacIntyre’s training to be the best Learning Support Assistant I could possibly be.
When working at MacIntyre I began to notice things the young people would do that I could relate to and saw in myself. I started to read more information on ADHD and Autism in order to get to know the young people better.
Through all this I realised I too had symptoms and so got a referral through my doctor.
What was your diagnostic process like?
It was a long process, but short when compared with people who have had to wait years.
I spent one hour with a psychiatrist and we looked at the assessments I had done. They asked me some questions and at the end of that hour, I had an ADHD diagnosis
Whilst with the psychiatrist they asked me if I had considered Autism and I hadn’t really as I always felt it was more ADHD but I know these can be heavily linked together. They completed a brief assessment with me there and then and now I am on a waiting list for further assessments for autism as I am showing some traits.
How does it feel to have a diagnosis?
I feel okay with it, like I finally have a reason why I can appear aloof sometimes and why I can struggle to make plans or organise myself.
How does it impact your work?
I have carried on reading more about ADHD and autism and feel I have more of an understanding now of the people we support who have complex needs. I am able to relate to the children I work with and see things in them that others may miss.
MacIntyre helps me to feel like I fit in and enables me to just be myself. I think that is all anyone wants really, to just be able to be themselves. With the children, I can be loud, fun and silly and I do not feel judged.
If I need to attend a training course now, I am able to tell the trainer I will need to be able to get up and move about, or to doodle.
What support do you receive at work?
MacIntyre supports me really well as an employee. For example, just before Christmas, I had a period of burnout. I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I had a day I simply couldn’t cope, and couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car to walk into work.
My manager came to see me in my car and I explained what I was going through. She asked me “what do you need?” and I told her I just needed to be at home, with no children around and no demands and to have time to myself. She sent me home and I managed to sleep and take the dogs out for a walk.
It was the best day. I was able to reset myself.