Are people with autism misunderstood?

"I didn't like it at all"

Anke Stang, Hanover: When Jonas was little he didn't want to hear from other children. When he talked about them, he said "the children" as if he wasn't one of them. Social conventions are a foreign language for him. He says what he thinks, and that's not always kind. His senses are unusually strong. Once he cried in pain while combing his hair. His ears are particularly sensitive and he cannot stand the sound of a cough. He was never cognitively conspicuous, but motoric. He had trouble opening a zipper or tying his shoes. When he was four, Jonas was diagnosed with Asperger's autism.

We wanted to send him to a special school for emotional and spiritual development. The headmaster replied: "We don't take autistic children, the teachers stay sick for me." So Jonas went to a normal elementary school, a school companion was put at his side.

Jonas Stang: The time in elementary school was nice. To have some peace and quiet, I often went for a walk along the canal during the hour. Then I'll be back to class.

Anke S .: In the third grade, Jonas switched to a school with a special focus on language. Things went well for a year, then the class became too restless for him.

Jonas S .: I was on the toilet most of the time because the kids were so noisy. The teachers didn't like that at all.

Anke S .: Jonas' third school was a comprehensive school, he was never in his class. For one school year, Jonas studied alone in the basement, only with his school companion. The teacher gave him assignments.

Jonas S .: That was nice, we worked in the basement. It was quiet.

Anke S .: After a year Jonas had to go. He came to a special school for intellectual and social development. School was the horror for Jonas.

Jonas S .: I was afraid of the students, I was afraid of the teachers. I didn't like it at all.

Anke S .: Jonas bit his hands bloody in the school bus. Once he tried to jump off the bus on the autobahn, and once he ran away at night, barefoot through the snow to the police, to report that he no longer wanted to go to school. It was no longer possible. Jonas was hospitalized for three months.

After that he was on sick leave and received homeschooling. A teacher came to us once or twice a week. Jonas calmed down, it was a great relief for the family. Then on Christmas Eve two years ago I received a letter from the school administration. The lessons have to be stopped, the teachers can no longer be dispensed with. Since then he has had no contact with this or any school.

Jonas is now 18 and no longer has to go to school. He has been working in a Caritas workshop since August. He's on the trail now.